If you’re raising kids on a plant-based diet, you’re probably used to defending your decision and have an arsenal of responses to questions such as “Where do they get their protein?” or “Aren’t you depriving your children?” Now you have a new official source that supports your lifestyle choice: a position paper published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that confirms a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet can be a healthy option for anyone at any age. The paper purports that veg diets can be “healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention or treatment of certain diseases” including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of heart disease, obesity, and certain types of cancer. For some of these diseases, the benefits are potentially big: a vegan diet reduced the risk of diabetes by 62% and the risk of heart disease by 29%! Of course, one of the key elements to the positive benefits of adopting a plant-based diet is that it is well-planned and includes lots of fruits and veggies as well as whole grains and protein sources like legumes that are not highly refined or processed. Veg families should also make sure they are getting enough of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D, iron, B-12, and calcium, whether through plant-based sources or through supplements. The position paper also points out that a plant-based diet is generally gentler on the environment and more sustainable. Raising veg kids is still a controversial decision in certain places, and the holidays are a time when these decisions come under fire more frequently as we share meals and conversations with extended family and friends who might not be aware of the health benefits and ethical reasons behind this decision. This position paper demonstrates that a carefully planned plant-based diet can be great for all ages and activity levels. You may even want to print out a copy for nagging relatives to read!
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