PETA Asia’s Vice President Of International Campaigns Opts For A Vegan Diet For His Son

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I'm not going to say that vegan foods are the sole reason for his upbeat, energetic personality, they certainly haven't hurt.

Why a vegan diet?

Photo from: Jason Baker

Photo from: Jason Baker

We now know that some of the most dangerous health conditions – including artery disease, which leads to strokes and heart attacks and several common cancers – begin in childhood. Children as young as 3 years old have been found to have clogged arteries, and paediatricians are reporting an alarming increase in the number of children with type 2 diabetes, a disease that has typically affected adults but is now showing up in kids who are obese or even just overweight.

In fact, researchers believe that the current generation of children will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents because their diets are so laden with animal-based foods, which over time take a toll the body. So while all parents fret about what to feed their youngsters, I'm confident that I'm giving my son the best possible start in life by raising him as a vegan.

I'll admit, I did have some concerns in the beginning. When I first met my son, he was 2 weeks old and in the ICU. The day we left the hospital, the doctor warned me that it was likely that he'd always be small and a bit slow because he'd been born addicted to drugs. But that wasn't my main worry at the time.

The more urgent question was, "How does a single guy get breast milk for a baby?" I soon discovered breast-milk banks and donors, so I began feeding him donated breast milk supplemented with some calcium-fortified soy formula when I couldn't get enough breast milk.

Go to the next page to learn more about a vegan diet for kids!

At around 5 months, like other kids, my son started eating fruits, vegetables, and wholegrain cereals. As he got older, he also had dhal and puréed beans and vegetables. When his teeth began to show, he started eating rice, chapattis, oatmeal, and fruit. He also began to drink juice diluted with water as well as water left over from cooking lentils. It doesn't sound appetising, but he liked it, and it gave him extra iron.

I've been vegan for decades and have read a lot about the health benefits of plant-based foods. I feel like I'm more knowledgeable about nutrition than many people. That gives me an advantage when it comes to choosing foods for my son.

For example, many parents – and, as I learned in the hospital, even a few doctors – don't know about milk allergies in babies (and adults). Duped by the dairy industry's misleading marketing campaigns, parents continue feeding cow's milk to kids.

Even when they're suffering from colic, recurrent ear infections, sinus infections, and other health problems linked to dairy milk. Non-dairy sources of calcium include dark-green leafy vegetables (such as collards and kale), almonds, sesame seeds, tahini and calcium-fortified soy or rice milk.

Go to the next page to learn more about a vegan diet for kids!

Kids (and adults) can get all the protein that they need from peanut butter, whole grains, lentils, beans, and whole soy foods such as tofu and tempeh. Iron-rich choices include leafy greens, dried beans and legumes, and sesame seeds. Unlike meat, eggs, and dairy products, plant-based foods are 100 percent cholesterol-free. Plus, most are naturally low in fat and calories.

Now at age 4, my son is a happy, healthy kid. He loves hummus and almond milk and is always on the go. His teachers and other parents often ask me, "Where does he get all that energy?" And while I'm not going to say that vegan foods are the sole reason for his upbeat, energetic personality, they certainly haven't hurt. He's never sick, sleeps great, and is as smart as can be (no parental bias there at all). He isn't slow or small, as the doctors originally feared. At a recent appointment, the paediatrician said, "I don't know what you're doing, but keep doing it.". I plan to, and I urge other parents to give plant-based foods a try, too. After all, we owe it to our children to give them every possible advantage.

Photo from: Jason Baker

Photo from: Jason Baker

Jason Baker is the vice president of international campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia. To get involved with PETA's work, please visit PETAAsia.com.

Disclaimer:

  • TheAsianParent would like to add that a vegan diet for kids is a lifestyle choice.
  • Additionally, TheAsianParent is not advocating this choice of diet or any specific diet for that matter.
  • Parents also have the responsibility of doing their own research and checking with their paediatrician first before attempting any form of food intake for their children.

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