Mom Splits Opinion Over Plan to Raise Baby As Vegan: 'Let Them Choose'

A mom has split opinion online after sharing plans to raise her baby vegan.

The anonymous matriarch took to the popular forum Mumsnet to share her decision surrounding her future child's diet, detailing that she herself has been vegan for the past year.

"All throughout my pregnancy I was shamed for being vegan even though, if anything, my baby's growth and our health were off of the charts," she wrote.

"Don't get me wrong, I have had soy protein as meat alternatives in foods to ensure we are still consuming a balanced diet so there wouldn't be any limitations on his diet.

"Can I raise my child to be vegan or would it be seen as limiting his diet in a wrong way?" she asked.

The merits of raising children on a vegan diet is debated by parents and experts alike. In recent years, vegetarian and vegan diets have become increasingly mainstream, with studies finding links between cardiovascular issues and certain cancers with the overconsumption of meat.

Baby eating broccoli
Stock image of a baby eating vegetables. Getty Images

A 2021 study in Poland found that vegan children had lower fat mass, blood cholesterol and fasting glucose levels, while having higher intakes of nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, folate, carotenoids, unsaturated fats and magnesium.

That's not to say it's so black and white though, with other studies finding that children on a fully vegan diet had lower vitamin D levels despite taking regular supplements. The 2021 study in Warsaw also found that those children were also on average shorter than non-vegans and measured around 5 percent lower in terms of bone mineral content. Some have argued that studies from other countries had different findings and the study may not show the final height of the child.

In 2009, the American Dietetic Association ruled that a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet was safe to follow at all stages of life, including babies and children. For many dieticians who have spoken publicly, the key is ensuring the diet is well-planned, with plant-based foods often being less calorie and protein-dense than meat diets, ensuring the food a child does eat meets all their basic needs is vital.

With such contrasting views in even the diet world, it's unsurprising that division also exists online among parents. The popular post left respondents split on their views.

"You can absolutely raise your baby just fine on a balanced vegan diet. The hardest part will be dealing with other people's opinions," supported one user.

One mom who claimed to raise her children vegan in the home, but lets them choose elsewhere wrote: "A vegan diet is healthy for a child though, as long as it's done well. I'd speak to a dietician if you want to do it or at least research it well. And obviously give a multivitamin but I think that's a good idea for kids anyway.

"And get rid of these people that are shaming your choices, they're unlikely to be good people to have around your kids in the future."

Baby eating broccoli
Stock image of baby eating broccoli. Getty Images

Others countered the decision, however, saying it should be made later in the child's life.

"I think veganism is wonderful but surely this should be a choice for your child when they are older? I am not a meat fan at all, but I made a variety of things for my children to eat," wrote one mom. "At the age of eight, one of my children made a conscious decision to stop eating meat, which of course I happily support."

For many parents, the concern lies in the risk of vegan children feeling left out in social situations: "I think you need to think carefully about nursery/school later on. Both of the vegan children I knew had huge issues around food including stealing food from others, hiding food and eating off the floor. I don't think these behaviors are inevitable but I do think it's important to think ahead to social situations your child will be in and how you will support them with that," warned one user.

"Can you? Yes. Should you? No," argued another. "Children need a balanced diet and it's hard to get enough alternative protein into children. There are dairy free formulas if that's a choice you want to make but give your child options as they grow and let them choose for themselves."