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3 Things Parents of Vegan Teens Worry About

teens children vegan health diet nutrition

More and more children and teens are deciding to go vegan and it's creating a movement in social responsibility, changing how we manufacture our food, and it's shifting how we care for our environment. So why on earth are parents so concerned about this health promoting trend?


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So, your teen wants to go vegan. That’s good news, isn’t it? This is a sign of maturity and social responsibility that shows concern for animals, takes action on saving the environment and the planet, and happily, you'll no longer have to buy your kids all those pricey leather goods. What is more, their new idea of fast food will be fruit -- their idea of lunch will be salads, and your food bill and medical bills will drop substantially. Isn't that a good thing? Why are you so worried about your teen going vegan?

Losing Control

From the time your child was born you controlled what they ate. You either breast fed them or gave them formula, started them on their first processed cereal and jarred foods, and drove them through their first McDonald’s drive-thru. You fed them high amounts of animal protein believing it would help them grow and, you may have (reluctantly) let them have anything their sweet tooth desired – but they’ve got Instagram – and there’s a movement happening called health, and it’s going viral.

Now that your teen has witnessed this healing movement – the posts of fruits and vegetables and beautiful bodies and good health, they want in on the action. Trust me, things could be worse.

More: Here Is How High Protein Diets Cause Type 2 Diabetes And How You Can Reverse It

Veganism Is Educational

Back when I was a teen, there were starvation diets. I remember having one peach all day, then working out at Lucille Roberts with my friends to burn it off – not healthy. Today, our teens are actually getting a lesson in holistic nutrition – they’re learning how to eat to maintain their gut health, they’re gaining an understanding of the tricks and deceptions of the food industry, they’re avoiding dairy, red meat, artificial sweeteners, MSG, GMOs, and by making these food choices they are changing the food landscape. Whether your teen takes up veganism as a phase, or for life -- in the end, they’ll be all the healthier for it.

More: How To Vegan Responsibly

Here are three things parents of vegans worry about that they shouldn’t:

1. Is My Teen Getting Enough Protein?

If there’s one thing to understand about consuming enough protein, it’s this: there are no reports in U.S. of anyone being protein deficient. In fact, we eat too much protein, no thanks to clever marketing from the meat and dairy industries. This is why we are seeing an obesity epidemic, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer epidemics.

To answer the question if your teen is getting enough protein -- fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and grains have appreciable amounts of protein in just the right amounts to sustain their body and maintain their health. Trust nature on this … fruits such as bananas have protein, as do leafy greens like spinach and kale. All beans, as well as seeds and nuts are excellent sources of protein, so never fear -- protein is one thing your child will never have a shortage of – in fact, they’ll finally be getting the proper amount, which is adequate and far less than they were eating previously.

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Protein should not be the biggest part of every meal.

Huge steaks, burgers, poultry, short ribs and even fish should not be the bulk of an omnivorous diet. They should be a small part of it, if at all, and while the human body can tolerate animal protein along with plant-based foods, too much of these fatty foods overwork the organs and slows digestion. This leaves your teen a hotbed for illness. For optimal health and functioning, it is best to keep the process of digestion quick and efficient. Lowering protein in the diet helps to get that done.

2. Is My Child Getting Enough B12?

The biggest worry for many parents whose teens go vegan are getting adequate levels of B12, and while this is a notable concern, it can easily be fixed by supplementing with a quality B12 taken daily. Getting the correct B12 every day is the key to staying nourished. Most people who go vegan tend to supplement with B12 that contains methylcobalamin, which is only half of what they need to support their health.

According to Anthony William, NY Times Best Selling Author of Medical Medium, Secrets Behind Chronic And Mystery Illness And How to Finally Heal, the ideal B-12 supplement includes both methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. This form of B12 supports the liver, nervous system, eases anxiety and panic, and strengthens the immune system. According to William, “the right B12 supplement is a better choice than B-12 injections, as these shots do not contain the right kind of B-12 blend and have the potential to trigger an overreaction in a sensitive body.” The beneficial and healing effects of adenosylcobalamin – the co-enzyme of B12, are just starting to be studied.

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3. Is My Teen Eating Enough Calories?

A teen on a vegan diet has one special advantage. They can eat all they want until they’re feeling full. The very nature of a vegan diet is self-care, which includes abiding by the cues your body sends you. One cue is knowing if you’ve eaten enough.

If your teen desires two bananas, two apples and some grapes for breakfast, and they’re feeling energized and full, then they’ve had a sufficient amount of calories. Conversely, if your teen seems sluggish to you while eating vegan, it’s likely because they’re not eating enough food. At this point, more calories need to be consumed. This is when more cooked foods such a winter squash, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, or even more avocado may be added to the diet.

Vegan Diets Are More Popular Than Ever

Not surprisingly, the number of vegans in the U.S. has doubled since 2009 from 2.5 percent of the population. This means that 7.5 million people in the U.S. now eat diets that do not include animal products. A Harris Interactive study has shown that approximately five percent of the U.S. is vegetarian (approximately 16 million people) and about half of them are vegan.

The study also revealed that 33 percent of Americans are eating vegan or vegetarian meals more often, though they are not identifying as vegan or vegetarian. That’s upward of 100 million people choosing a plant-based diet and this number can only be expected to grow.

Not Sure How To Go Vegan? Get Help.

If there’s one other major bonus of your teen going vegan, it’s that he/she may have given you a greater insight into how to regain your own health. Follow your teen’s lead on this one. If you don’t know where to begin, consult with a capable Naturopath or Holistic Nutrition Practitioner to get started. You have nothing to lose, but poor health.