Plant-based eating is a way of eating that relies primarily on plant food sources. Many people choose to eat this way because it’s better for their health and the environment. Maybe you still want to include eggs or dairy in your meals but would like to exclude meat and fish. Switching out a few meals a week is the perfect introduction to plant-based eating for kids.
The difference between plant-based eating and veganism is that you don’t have to eliminate all animal products when you eat plant-based—you can choose to use them if they add value to your family’s life.
One of the most significant benefits of transitioning to a plant-based diet is its potential to improve health. Multiple studies have shown that plant-based diets lower cholesterol and blood pressure, thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Plant-based diets are also naturally lower in saturated fat and high in fiber, which can help prevent diabetes and help maintain the ideal weight more easily.
While it may seem like a challenge to get your kids to adopt a plant-based diet, we’re here to tell you plenty of ways to help them make the change, from starting small to encouraging healthy snacking. Here are some tips for introducing plant-based eating to kids:
- Start with small changes. It can be challenging for people to let go of their favorite foods, so you can introduce new foods slowly and give yourself and your family time to adjust. For example, if they’re used to eating chicken nuggets every day, try introducing plant-based alternatives one day per week. Eventually, you can work up to transitioning completely!
- Make snacking fun by creating custom snack trays that they’ll enjoy.
- Be a role model by setting an example through your actions. When children see their parents’ enthusiasm or get the chance to cook plant-based meals together as a family, they’re more likely to want to join in on the fun!
- Be patient. It may take time for your kids to adjust and adapt fully. Remember that this isn’t a race!
One great way to introduce your little ones to plant-based eating is by choosing one day a week to cut out the animal products—for example, Meatless Monday. As a mom, it takes the pressure off you to try new recipes every night. Every week, the novelty of a different meal will keep them interested in trying new plant-based recipes that they might be hesitant about! Keep a log of the ones you all love and add them to the rotation; soon, your plant-based meals will become more and more common.
Don’t worry about missing the protein from your diet previously supplied by meat, poultry, and fish. Both tofu and seitan are great sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, you can prepare them in various ways, including baking, broiling, frying, or grilling. The best part is that they are both inexpensive to buy.
A plant-based diet doesn’t mean giving up your favorite foods, like pizza or burgers! Instead, explore ways to make the same kinds of dishes with different ingredients (such as chickpeas instead of chicken). Start slow and get the kids involved in preparing the meals. Everyone will enjoy the benefits of plant-based eating, and you can feel good knowing that you are nourishing them now and for the future.