Although veganism is thought of by many to consist only of choices made about diet, it is actually a lifestyle that advocates avoiding anything that uses or wastes animals, from clothing to transportation. Some parents, who accept this way of life as the absolute truth, want their children to grow up vegan from birth.
It is thought that there are some benefits that have made veganism so widespread, especially in recent years. For example; It is argued that plant-based nutrition reduces the risk of diabetes, cancer and various heart diseases as a result of lowering body mass index and lowering blood pressure. But the common view is; It is also in the middle of the views that it is argued that it is deprived of the things that the body needs, such as sufficient protein, B12, iron and calcium, and therefore it is a very unhealthy diet.
Parents who adopt veganism can also direct their children to vegan diets in order not to involve them in animal exploitation. We have compiled the subject, which has different opinions on whether it is healthy or not, in our content.
What exactly is veganism and vegan nutrition?
Although the recognition of the term veganism in the country and around the world is only recently, the evidence on vegan nutrition goes back to 2000 years, according to some researchers. Vegetarianism, which is seen as a transitional stage to vegan nutrition by some people, experienced a movement that can be considered valuable in England and the United States in the 19th century. The poet is known as a physician and even the people whose words are considered important in the society began to make statements that they see feeding with animal foods as exploitation. In 1944, an activist man named Donald Watson, known to vegan circles, coined the term ‘vegan’ to describe people who do not eat animal products other than meat.
Although vegetarianism is classified as below veganism, it is not acceptable as it does not completely end the exploitation of animals by more than one vegan. Although vegetarianism generally prohibits the consumption of only meat, it is divided into subclasses according to whether certain animal products other than meat are consumed or not.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians, including many vegetarians, consume dairy products and eggs other than meat.
- Lacto-vegetarians eat animal foods other than meat products and eggs.
- Ovo-vegetarians do not consume any animal foods other than eggs.
- Pescatarians, on the other hand, are called semi-vegetarians because they only eat poultry and meat products other than fish.
- Pollovegetarians also do not fully meet the concept of vegetarianism. They consume all animal foods except poultry meat.
In fact, veganism is seen as a philosophy of life far beyond nutrition. Apart from very strict eating rules, they change their way of life in many segments, from clothing to transportation, which they think is animal exploitation. For example, they refuse to use any clothes, accessories or objects obtained from animals. Although it is very difficult in today’s conditions, there are vegans who refuse to even fly an airplane on the grounds that it harms animals.
A person may decide to become a vegan not only for conscientious reasons but also because it is not accepted in terms of religion and morality. More than one issue, such as the climate crisis and environmental pollution, is in the middle of the reasons for being vegan. Because the conditions required for the livestock sector are not sustainable and can cause incredible damage to the environment. People with chronic diseases such as heart disease can also choose plant-based nutrition.
What are the benefits and harms of a vegan diet?
Since vegan nutrition has very strict rules compared to some people, it can be intimidating even if you want to start with conscience or for other reasons. However, many benefits of vegan nutrition have been explained by experts.
- Vegan diet helps to lose weight. Of course, it is not a sustainable nutritional goal to lose weight, but because the vegan diet is plant-based, its fat consumption is low. Due to the fact that it is a diet that is free of saturated fats, which is seen as harmful and mostly obtained from animal foods, people who eat vegan have a lower body mass index compared to other people.
- Vegan diet reduces the risk of many diseases. It lowers the chances of type 2 diabetes by providing lower blood sugar. At the same time, it has also been seen that it improves kidney functions, according to some studies, even if it is not proven. Diseases that can be fatal, such as cancer and heart diseases, are also less common in vegan people, according to some studies.
- A vegan diet is also thought to be beneficial for issues such as stress and anxiety. According to one study, there was a link between a vegan diet and low stress levels.
- In a study of a heavily vegan-eating island nation in Papua New Guinea, people’s skin was found to be brighter and smoother. At the same time, it is thought that milk works can cause acne.
- And of course, when you eat vegan, you prevent livestock, which is one of the main causes of environmental pollution. Every year, a lot of forests are destroyed so that there can be animal consumption in the increasingly industrialized food section. In other words, it is possible to prevent the opening of areas by destroying the forests for the development of animal husbandry by feeding vegan.
Although vegan nutrition has many benefits, it can also cause losses when applied without considering how much of each food should be taken. It is a fact that many of the essential minerals and vitamins that every body needs are more abundant in animal foods. If you don’t stop consuming only animal products and stabilize your diet, you won’t get enough of ingredients like B12 and protein.
Legumes are the main protein source for vegans. However, excessive consumption of pulses can lead to digestive system disorders such as bloating in the stomach. In order to avoid all these, when you decide to eat vegan, it is useful to create a diet list with an expert or to learn the contents of the foods and how much you need.
So, is a vegan diet healthy for kids?
The trick to a vegan diet is to include ingredients from mostly animal foods while using a plant-based diet. If it cannot be obtained, you will not be able to eat enough, and it will cause more harm than health. Discussions about vegan diets for children arise mainly because of this. Vegan-fed families can make their children vegan from birth because they think that veganism is the truth.
Nutrition in children living in the development and growth phase can directly relate to this process. The basic rule for a healthy and sufficient diet is to create a system in which more than one food can be taken and the variety is abundant. Since a vegan diet limits the consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol, which is generally supplied from animal foods, it is thought to prevent diseases that may arise from these ingredients in children’s adulthood.
In short, vegan nutrition is a diet that needs to be planned and implemented in detail, regardless of childhood or adulthood. If the truth is not applied, it may cause the child to be inadequate in development, but it has been accepted according to some researches that it can even benefit the child if it is done by making sure that all nutritional contents are taken.
What does scientific research say about vegan nutrition for children?
There is a study conducted at Harvard comparing navegan children who eat animal products and children who eat vegan. According to this study, navegan children enter puberty earlier and grow faster. This is because animal products contain too much growth hormone. It is thought that it is healthier to grow over time than to grow suddenly. In a study on intelligence development, it was found that vegan children had a higher intelligence level.
Nutrition is very valuable, especially in diseases related to the heart and blood vessels. According to research, problems such as lubrication in the veins actually date back to childhood. A study on vegan nutrition was conducted at the American academic medical center called the Cleveland Clinic. The children selected for the study were divided into two groups, and one group was given a low-fat vegetable diet, while the other group was given a heart-protective animal-based diet. As a result of the study, the weight of the children on plant-based diets decreased, their blood pressure became more beautiful and their blood pressure decreased. This study convinced many American and Canadian physicians that a vegan diet for children might suffice.
Although there are positive studies on vegan nutrition of children, another study on children who are born vegan thinks that vegan nutrition will create a deficiency of vitamins A and D. There is not enough research and certain information about feeding children vegan, but experts emphasize that in general, children who eat vegan should undergo routine health checks.