Help! My kid wants to go Vegan!

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“Mum, I’m a vegan now!”

It’s January and, at the time of writing, everyone is losing their s*** over sausage rolls. Yes, thanks to Veganuary – the annual attempt to get us to ditch dairy, meat and fish for a month (think Movember but with flares) – veganism is everywhere you look. And our kids are looking everywhere.

So what do you do if your kid decides to go vegan? Have a read of our guide to vegan kids.

Tempting though it is to sigh heavily and declare it another phase, this is one worth taking seriously as it’s not going away. Veganism is becoming more and more mainstream, which means it’s also becoming easier to manage.

Ask your kids if they know any celebrity vegans and the chances are they’ll reel off a list of relevant sportspeople and kid-friendly singers: Ariana Grande, JME, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Serena and Venus Williams, Jermaine Defoe… Basically, it’s not just Moby anymore.

Okay, veganism is finally cool. We get it. But how will they get enough protein and do they need to eat more Marmite (and other clichéd ‘I’ve gone veggie, mum!’ questions)?

The Vegan Society has a ton of useful info written according to the age of your child – download nutrition guides for 5-10 year olds and 11-18 year olds. Note: they do also make it clear that it’s worth talking to a health professional about any major change to your diet, so we’re saying the same.

Going vegan doesn’t mean your kid will suddenly want to eat lentil rissoles instead of beans on toast (spoiler: beans on toast IS vegan!). It’s now possible to do direct replacements for most favourite foods just with a bit of careful shopping.

Plenty of basics are vegan already (bread is one that people are sometimes surprised by), and there are loads of excellent social media accounts that exist solely to alert vegans to ‘accidentally’ vegan products. Plus it’s easy to swap butter for margarine, Quorn for sausages/ham/nuggets etc, pizza without cheese, oat milk for cows’ etc. We also hear apples are vegan – it’s just not that big a deal!

Inevitably, the big supermarkets are all jumping on that cruelty-free bandwagon too, with major new ranges including M&S Plant Kitchen, Waitrose, Tesco Wicked Kitchen and Sainsbury’s Love Your Veg! (try their sausages, they’re disturbingly good) so expect ready meal replacements along the lines of mac and cheese, lasagne, pizza, meatballs and more.

Basically, don’t freak out – there’s no better time than 2019 to enjoy the choices available. And, to be honest, it’s a change that wouldn’t hurt applying to the whole of the family. We could ALL do reducing the amount of meat we consume, if not for health reasons then for environmental ones.

The reasons people – and thus your kids – give for going vegan are varied and personal. It’s a trend, sure, but beyond that there are clear health and nutrition reasons, animal welfare issues as well as those environmental factors. Probably a good idea to chat to your kid about exactly why they’re interested in going vegan – there will be different reasons and, hey, it could actually be an interesting conversation. Make sure they have access to decent off- and online resources so that they can read up on the issues that mean something to them. Why? To help get them prepared for the onslaught of questions that will inevitably come from well-meaning relatives, vegan-curious friends and vegan-bashers alike.

The main issue for parents is nutrition – these are kids, remember, and thus, we do worry about them just eating hash brown sandwiches. Aside from making sure they eat a good variety of fruit and veg, grains, beans, nuts and seeds, there are a few supplements worth taking for kids and adults going vegan. These include calcium, vitamins D and B12, iron, iodine, and Omega-3 fats, but quantities vary according to age, lifestyle and diet so this is where getting professional advice is essential.

So. Your kids is going vegan. Ask them why, make sure they’re eating the right things, supplement that if you need and take an interest. See, it really isn’t that weird after all. Although those sausage rolls are a bit strange…