Should you go Plant-Based for Children?
Growing up and ensuring a balanced diet is essential, especially in an individual's pre-adolescent and adolescent years. Children’s developmental years are essential as it is when a child develops his/her cognitive and physical fundamentals. During this important period, many major developmental milestones are reached. Define the most important periods of an individual in a developmental setting, which would be from birth to the age of five. The initial five years of a child’s life are critical to their well-being, health, and the direction of their health in various ways. Fortunately, there is a multitude of things that parents can do to promote the healthy growth and development of their children.
Going plant-based or including more plant-based foods and limiting the amount of animal produce in our diet can have a profound benefit on health, and also have a very positive impact on our environment. Let's look at some of the benefits of going plant-based for our children.
Benefits of Plant-Based Diet for Children
For children particularly, a plant-based diet can provide an abundance of disease-fighting foods like beans, leafy greens, lentils, and seeds as a foundation of our meals, instead of merely adding a side of vegetables or omitting them altogether.
Some research suggests that since plaque build-up in the arteries starts in childhood, starting plant-based diets early on may prevent heart disease later on in life. Another important benefit of a plant-based diet for children is that healthy plant-based diets are also associated with a lower incidence of overweight and obesity in children, a common problem is developed countries such as Singapore.
The consumption of a well-balanced plant-based/vegetarian diet early in life can help develop healthy lifelong habits. By developing such habits, an individual can curb the risks of developing eating disorders as the peak age of disorder development is in the adolescent years.
There are many upsides to a vegan or plant-based diet, such as the provision of adequate nutrition, avoidance of allergies, disease prevention, for optimal health, and more. Careful meal planning is needed to ensure a well balanced, healthy plant-based diet that meets all the requirements for growth & development.
Tips for Plant-based meal planning for the family
According to the Healthy Plate, a healthy plant-based diet should include:
At least 1/2 plate of vegetables at lunch and dinner, choosing vegetables that are a variety of colours. Also aim to eat green leafy vegetables at least once per day.
Eat smaller amounts of meat or eliminate meat altogether from 1-2 meals per week for your family. Plant-based protein options that can create a filling meal include beans, tofu, lentils, and nuts.
Choose healthy fats, which can be found in nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, and olive oils.
- Consider some healthy plant-based products that can make cooking easier, e.g., HerbYvore Plant Protein Block, which is a versatile ingredient for plant-based cooking, including vegan brownies, "meatless" patties and dumplings, and more.
Make fruit the nightly dessert for your family.
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