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Raising your kids vegan

Hot Button: Raising Your Kids Vegan

I don't eat meat. Or milk or eggs for that matter. I'm a vegan, but I came to that decision as an adult, and am in control over exactly what goes in my mouth, even if some days it's largely chardonnay and French fries.

Choosing not to eat certain foods is a big nutritional decision. Is it fair then, for parents to make firm diet choices like this for their kids?

A recent example of this controversy surfaced in 2007 when a vegan couple in Atlanta was sentenced to life in prison after their six week-old baby died of starvation after subsisting on a diet of apple juice and soy milk. To suss out the whole controversy, please


While blame seems easy to hang on the vegan detail of this story, the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine clarifies the situation by saying this,

"Crown [the child] was not killed by a vegan diet; rather, he died of complications from starvation. His parents had fed him the wrong food—soymilk and apple juice—for any infant, vegan or not. But, the real problem was that he was not given enough food of any sort."

A baby not getting enough food is a crime, to be sure. But is the choice to raise the child vegan, really germane to the argument? Many cultures thrive on diets with little to no meat, and with childhood obesity on the rise, is it wrong to steer our kids toward diets that emphasize fruits, veggies, and plant protein? Why are we hung up on making sure our kids get their Happy Meals? Do you think a vegan lifestyle is appropriate for kids?

Join The Conversation
Cherylish Cherylish 9 years
I'm a vegetarian and I think the best way is to let the kid's choose (although if a parent wants to raise their kids veg, I think that is their choice as a parent). When I have kids, I don't plan to serve them meat, but if they had it at school or something (as long as they weren't forced to eat it) I don't see what's wrong with that. I was not raised as a vegetarian, I made that choice on my own. I plan to let me children choose as well. As for the family, I think it's really sad that their baby starved but I think the media totally twists the story to make it sound like it happened because they were vegans. I think a lot of people are just really ignorant about it--I know I've gotten flack for it. Some people just can't accept what they don't understand and that's where a lot of the ignorance comes from.
RobinFabulous RobinFabulous 9 years
This story wasn't about the parent's food decisions, but their STUPIDITY. A 6 week old or for that matter 6 month old baby doesn't NEED anything except breastmilk. Any juice is nutritonally incomplete for a child's needs at that age. I bet they were scheduling. God people like that make me sick. I've been vegetarian on/off several times, but my children eat meat. My oldest (9) eats no red meat, and just a little chicken, but that's through her own choices. I do offer other protien sources to make her diet more well rounded.
tundrababe tundrababe 9 years
I agree with Bookish that these people were just criminally ignorant.
Nitrobezene Nitrobezene 9 years
I think parents should feed their children an assortment of foods including dairy and meat products and if they don't like it, they can make their own decision not to eat it. I would be pissed if my mom or dad didn't let me at least try it and let me make my own decision.
artemis77 artemis77 9 years
There's nothing wrong with raising children as vegans or vegetarians. I'm a vegetarian, but my husband is not - and even he eats mostly vegetarian now. It's perfectly healthy. The couple in that news story were cruel, misguided, and uneducated - babies need breast milk (or formula if that's what you choose). I could have sworn that most soy milk containers warn that they're not to be used as infant formula.
rickimc rickimc 9 years
Growing kids need a lot of nutrients, so it is up to the parents to make sure they get it. I think vegetarian is one thing, especially if it is done right, but vegan may just be to harsh for a newborn. Let the kids grow up and make their own decision.
Bookish Bookish 9 years
I think the couple was just ignorant- criminally ignorant, not to get their baby help- but still ignorant all the same. I'm a vegetarian, and I'm raising two sons with a non-vegetarian (but very tolerant) husband. I'm the primary cook, and when I'm the one making food, they eat vegetarian, and they don't mind. Sometimes their dad will cook chicken or steak, and they're free to eat it if they want. The older one usually does, and the little one usually sticks with veggies. I can't let it be a big deal. I made the decision to be vegetarian for me, and it's a personal thing- when they're old enough to understand all that it means, they can make that decision for themselves. Until then, they can have their chicken nuggets once in a while- I just want them to be happy and healthy.
andiealex andiealex 9 years
I think it's fine if the parent's are keeping the child's best nutritional health in mind. I have been a vegetarian for 13 years and have changed my diet to fit my needs. My dad and stepmom raised their 3 kids as vegetarians until they could makes their own choices around 5 or 6. I think most hispanic people are not vegetarians because their food is based so much around meat. I am 1/2 Mexican and the only one in my family able to stay a vegetarian.
letsgetloud21 letsgetloud21 9 years
:ROTFL: @ Go Meat..I hate that commercial..I love meat ..well not so much beef,but most of my family is mexican,I don't know many mexicans who are vegetarians :D
MotoLinz MotoLinz 9 years
Our son is a year old and was a vegan until just recently, when we started giving him some meats. He's also in the 90th percentiles for height and the 70th for weight, and he's just now come down with his first bug. He's bubbly, bright, healthy, and huge. The story of the baby in Atlanta was incredibly sad, but it had nothing to do with the child being raised as a vegan (or by vegans). It was pure, sad ignorance. A very good friend of mine is a vegan, and her husband is a vegetarian. They've allowed their children to decide the paths they want. One son is a vegetarian, and the other eats a bit of chicken now and then. They're all healthy and happy.
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
That poor baby boy. I saw the story on this too, and the baby was indeed under four pounds in weight. They showed some pictures of his little arm. I cried.
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
I think that parents should feed their children whatever they feel is healthy. It should be common sense that if you're child is failing to thrive you should talk to a doctor and change your behavior. Also, just a thought, must any discussion concerning whether or not to eat meat degenerate into personal attacks? Can't we just respect each other's beliefs, values, and lifestyles?
JovianSkies JovianSkies 9 years
Just a thought, I think this kid in the photo could've used a few more nutrients himself...not the best posterchild for eating healthfully :-/
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
It still warms my heart to see so many vegetarians on this site. :) I think raising a child on a vegan diet is possible to do healthily, but it requires a vast amount of diligent research, and close relationships with pediatricians and nutritionists. I used to have a friend who guilted her daughter into becoming vegan when her mom made the switch, and she was very unhealthy and had many behavioral problems as a result.
mother2 mother2 9 years
I agree with JovianSkies! Kids will eat what they want to, you can't expect your kid to love to eat what you do. And if you are going veggie or vegan, have some common sense when it comes to a newborn infant, please! Lol at your "go meat" comment! I'm with you, I love me a good steak! :)
JovianSkies JovianSkies 9 years
GO MEAT! (lol, sorry, I had to say it)
JovianSkies JovianSkies 9 years
Here's an idea; let your children eat what they want, as long as it's healthy and in moderation.
mother2 mother2 9 years
That story absolutely sickened me. Did these people even consider soy formula? Hello?!?!?! You want to raise your kid vegan when he/she starts solids, fine. But formula or breast milk is the primary source of nutrition for your baby's ENTIRE first year of life.
princess_eab princess_eab 9 years
That couple were mentally ill and neglectful. Actual vegans are so much more educated about health and the effect their diet might have on children. I do not see how feeding a child hamburgers, processed sugar in juice, and french fries is accepted but a plant-based diet is not. Even Dr. Spock himself advocated a vegan diet for children in his last book. A vegan diet for children is not apple juice and soymilk. I'm not sold 100% on a vegan diet, but since obesity and heart disease are so prevalent in our country and our children, and one of the strongest correlative links between diet and disease is between red meat and heart disease, why we don't talk more about the health of plant-based diets is beyond me.
ellipsery ellipsery 9 years
I was really offended when the word vegan was tossed around so much in this case. It was NOT a case of veganism causing the death of this child, it was uninformed parents neglecting their child. Since becoming vegan, I have been happier and healthier than ever before. If I ever decide to have children, they will most likely eat vegan at home -- I wouldn't try to prevent them from trying new things outside of the home, but I will not buy animal products with my money.
foxie foxie 9 years
Wow, erratic indeed. No, obviously it shouldn't be a crime for animals who are natural carnivores to hunt and eat their pray. Animals don't cage other animals up and breed them in nightmarish conditions in order to eat them. It's not what you want to hear, but it's the truth. Most people, like you, are raised eating meat and grow to like it. I was/did too. That doesn't mean that factory farming is excusable, and it doesn't mean that in the future humankind won't grow to recognize its past mistakes.
karisaamy karisaamy 9 years
I saw this story - I think it was a part of THS Investigates: Fad Diets - I just didn't understand why that couple would choose to not breast feed their child. What was the most alarming was that they interviewed the Dad and he said that he didn't do anything wrong, and that he would not have changed a thing. I have no problems with raising a child as a vegan, as long as they are still getting fed right. Apple juice and Soy Milk is not feeding an infant right.
erratic-assassin erratic-assassin 9 years
well, as long as its not a crime now...CALM DOWN! i was raised that way and I cant help that I like meat! Animals eat other animals THAT should be a crime as well? where does the cycle stop? Leave the meat-eaters alone! People with responses like THAT are the reason Vegans give me a bad vibe....they get so defensive. AND NO OFFENSE TO EVERYONE ELSE! Foxie was just helping me prove a point. now if you'll excuse me, I'ma go throw some steak on my grill! cuz it's a free country!
foxie foxie 9 years
Sometime in the very, very, very distant future it will be a crime. But don't worry, you'll be dead by then, along with a trillion factory farmed animals.
erratic-assassin erratic-assassin 9 years
hey foxie, I like my nuggets! it's not a crime! lol but interesting link. mmmm...nuggets!
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