Children need a healthy amount of protein and other nutrients to grow, and sometimes people assume that they cannot get the right amount of nutrients from a vegan diet. Thankfully, the awareness surrounding veganism is changing. More people are embracing the power of veganism. They’re also learning about the versatility and variety of nutrients and proteins available. If you’ve recently adopted a vegan diet and want to raise children on a vegan diet, know that it’s definitely doable. It all comes down to understanding your children’s needs and being willing to be creative in how you implement your food choices. A vegan diet can help children grow up strong, vibrant, and full of energy. Consider the following tips to get started.

Incorporate a lot of color

You’ll want to entice your children to eat foods that will build up their immune systems and health. People always eat with their eyes first. This is why it’s best to make sure your meals look as good as they taste. For a vegan, it’s always ideal to prepare foods that are filled with tons of color. Use a spiralizer to prepare cucumbers, squash and carrots to give them a fun appearance. Make sweet potato fries as a side dish with a black bean burger entree. As you diversify the colors, it’ll make kids interested in trying more. Remember that your children will be affected by the foods they see others eat and the foods they grow up eating.

Add grains and beans

Veganism isn’t solely about fruits and vegetables. Use grains, nuts and beans in creative ways to make delicious, hearty meals. If your children love turkey chili, make a multi-bean chili instead. If you have a baby that you’re transitioning from milk, try baby cereal that includes grains like buckwheat, quinoa and lentils. When you add grains, nuts and beans, you’ll increase your children’s chances of growing healthy and strong. Kids who grow up eating healthier meals will naturally prefer them to saturated fat and animal-byproduct filled alternatives. But also be aware that children need slightly different diets than adults. Don’t assume that children will naturally enjoy every food that you do. For example, adults are less sensitive to bitter tastes than children are, and children are less sensitive to sweets, which is why children often hate asparagus and many adults can’t handle a single sugar-filled popsicle.

Prepare food in advance

If you take a look at some of the most delicious vegan meals, they tend to take a little longer to prepare. If you already know that you’d like to make vegan mushroom tortellini in a vegan brown butter sauce for dinner, make the tortellini in advance. Then, freeze it until you’re ready to cook it. When kids don’t have to wait a really long time for meals, it can always help them develop a positive perception of vegan foods. Remember that when kids are involved, it’s easiest to simplify your process as much as possible, so make as many things ahead of time to freeze as you can. Invite your children to help in food prep, as this will make them excited for the meals they helped to prepare.

Take it slow

If you’re starting a vegan diet when your children are babies, it’s not going to be challenging to acclimate them because they don’t know anything else. However, if your children are used to eating meat and animal by-products, it might be a little tough to get them to switch over. Knowing this, it’s best to focus on transitioning instead of a “cold turkey” route. This will take a little longer, but the goal is to develop a healthy, strong child. It’s better that they eat the food instead of deprive themselves because it’s not what they want. To start with, give your children more fruits and vegetables than animal byproducts, and slowly swap out your ingredients for healthier vegan alternatives. As long as this happens gradually, your children will grow used to it. Make sure to listen to their thoughts and complaints, as it is important that your children know you are listening to them and care about how they feel. If they are going hungry, try to have healthy snacks around the house for them to eat. Simply having more of the right foods and less of the bad can make a major difference in what your kids seek out to eat.

Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. Explore different recipes. Personalize them. Pay attention to the foods your children tend to gravitate toward. Before long, veganism will become a way of life for your family. Remember also to encourage your children to experiment, especially with easy foods like smoothies. Giving your children control over their diet will be a major way to help them feel ownership and enjoyment of their food.

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