Giving a baby the best start in life is the mission of many parents around the world, with decisions being made about various parts of the baby’s life. A recent study carried out by the team behind www.VoucherCodesPro.co.uk asked almost 2,200 UK parents with children aged from 0 to 12 months about their babies’ eating habits. It found that 1 in 12 parents are currently raising vegan children.
Raising a child meat-free and dairy-free is becoming increasingly popular, thanks to a new wave of parents who are spreading the word about the vegan revolution via social media, Instagram in particular. Families can share recipes, give each other tips and advice about being plant-based. One vegan family advocating for more to make the change is @uk_veganfamily – Daniella Smith and Adam Jenkins and their two and a half-year-old son, Jack.
Jack was first raised as a vegetarian from birth and at 17 months went vegan. Daniella says, “The reaction is always slightly negative initially until I show them the foods we eat and that I can ‘veganise’ everything.” She explains that people are usually shocked when they find out that she is raising Jack as vegan and often worry that he is not getting the calcium or protein that he needs. Daniella has researched into the diet extensively and has looked at documents from the NHS, World Health Organisation and American Board of Dieticians which all show support for a vegan diet being safe for all stages of life. For Jack, animals are not food, but friends.
Daniella and her partner, Adam are part of Worcestershire vegan families and are hoping to reach out to other families within their area. They have begun to do presentations about the lifestyle and raising vegan children in a bid to change societies views on the matter and have a YouTube channel where they are documenting their vegan journey and showing their everyday vegan life. It was not until Daniella began to breastfeed her son, that she began to question cow’s milk, “It was being pushed on me and I thought it was weird that another species milk was preferable over my own so I never gave it to him.” Daniella also discovered that she had diabetic retinopathy in my eyes, she looked into disease reversal and found veganism. Within six weeks, the couple had ditched dairy and meat and had seen an amazing difference, they then decided to change Jack to a vegan diet.
Jack does not miss out on anything that any meat-eating toddler would, he is catered for when he attends parties and other events. “We always get in touch with the host and let them know about our lifestyle,” Daniella explains, “and nine times out of ten, they say they will make sure there is a vegan cake and snacks or I will bake cakes for Jack.”
There is no compromising for this plant-based family who still enjoyed all the joys of a traditional Christmas dinner. Their vegan roast included a vegan beef wellington (recipe by Gas Oakley), red cabbage with apple and cranberry, vegan cauliflower and broccoli cheese, sausages in vests, veggies and Yorkshire puddings (recipe by Bosh! By Henry and Ian). Not only was their dinner meat and dairy-free, but their Christmas was zero waste, with cookies and cakes made for family and friends – all wrapped using postage paper and string (to eliminate the use of sellotape).
Woody Harrelson, lifelong vegan explained In Style that, “When I first started shifting my diet, it wasn’t as much a moral or an ethical pursuit but an energetic pursuit. Having more energy throughout the day is always a plus when you are constantly busy, and it’s a great reason to want your kids to be on that kind of diet too!” With various celebrities raising their children vegan, including Jenna Dewan, Madonna and Natalie Portman, it is likely that more families will decide to take that step in being more animal and eco-friendly. Daniella’s family is showing just how easy it is to be a healthy, happy vegan family, no matter the age of the child.