In 2019, the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium determined that raising children with a vegan diet is “unethical”. Their opinion will make it easier to prosecute parents whose children experience health problems because of a strict vegan diet. There may be many ethical and principled reasons to follow a vegan diet, but could it actually be unethical to raise your children vegan?

There are plenty of horror stories. Last year, two parents in Sydney, Australia allowed their toddler to become so malnourished while following a vegan diet that her bones fractured and her teeth fell out. The same year, a Swedish court sentenced the vegan parents of an 18-month-old to three months in jail for almost causing her death from malnutrition.

In 2017, a Belgian baby died after being fed a diet of vegetable milk made of “oak, buckwheat, rice, and quinoa”. In 2016, a vegan couple in Italy lost custody of their 14-month-old son after the baby was taken to hospital suffering from malnutrition and, also in Italy in 2016, a two-year-old girl was hospitalised for vitamin deficiencies caused by her parents’ vegan diet.

Experts say it is possible to raise healthy children according to a vegan diet. However, it absolutely must involve consulting with medical professionals for advice, be well-planned, varied, balanced, and ensure any missing vitamins and nutrients (such as B12) are given via supplements.

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Nando saying: “[Many people] think they have to eat meat or else their children will be undernourished or weak.” Is that right? Would giving a child a vegan diet mean they might grow up undernourished?

To get a response, we spoke to Luisa Crisigiovanni, Secretary General of Altroconsumo, the largest independent consumer association in Italy. What would she say?

For another perspective, we also put the same comment to Isabelle Mulkerrins, who blogs on nutrition, veganism, health and lifestyle. How would she respond?

It is, in fact, possible (and healthy!) for children to eat a completely vegan diet, or at least a vegetarian one. And it can be very healthy for them to grow up eating a lot of fruit, vegetables, nuts and pulses. Not to mention the health benefits of limiting their intake of red meat, saturated fat in animal products, and dairy, as well as hopefully minimal amounts of processed high sugar foods. But a vegan diet for children does also require knowledge about nutrition or meeting with a dietitian to ensure proper nutrition.

Is it wrong to raise children with a vegan diet? Is it “unethical”? Or, with careful planning and professional medical advice, is it a perfectly viable option? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock – (c) julianeroznak

86 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    It’s wrong only if you want them to grow old

  2. avatar

    Yes. Humans are omnivores. The first and only food we eat for numerous months after we are born is milk. That should tell you enough.

  3. avatar

    Are the veggies going to be full of pesticides? Let’s debate on how healthy ALL our products are, without harming the environment or any other kid in another continent first.

  4. avatar

    ehm no… all stages of life are acceptable for veganism.. you do have idiotic parents whom do not know how to feed people.
    I dont get why you post this here as this is commonly known. Unless marketing which is ofc good :P
    And those supplements are also in ones cow and are from milking bacteria* (not an animal).
    Sofar have my blood checked each x times and did not have any problems aslong as you ofc take B12 and imo D.

  5. avatar

    Not sure how you can debate on somethign that has to be settled by science.

  6. avatar

    As in condition of sickness, the organism compensates until it could. The same thing is with the vegans who go to the doctor and ask to compensate the lack of natural supplements with different perscriptions and sinthetic consumptives.
    I agree, that it is savage to mass kill so many animals, but most of them are farmed there, not out in the nature. Maybe we should just consume a little less meat.

    • avatar

      or not at all as facts show there is no issue but it also shows that meat has a big effect on the climate. Besides that farming is currently still savage.
      Also bio meat farming is even a more environmental problem.

  7. avatar

    I have only eat vegan for the first three years of my life and I’m alive and well, so. No prob

  8. avatar

    One has to be turbo ignorant to ask such question. Also most of the vegans either don’t admit or doesn’t know yet, that they have serious problems with their health. Most of them take supplements, but they dont share these facts.

    • avatar

      oni Velikov plus they think the supplements and almond milk are healthy altetnatives and save the environment. When in actuality they are synthetic and take many processes to produce with is counterproductive in saving the environment since these processes create CO2. If wr wanna get real deep, raiding ur own chickens and eating them and eggs is more environmentally healthy than stupid vitamins that arent even absorbed by your body.

    • avatar

      + i bet most vegans use airplanes + transportation . That is more detrimental to environment. They should use boats instead or become menanites too

    • avatar

      Predators have their eyes on the front side of their head, they have canine and other teeth specially for meat, also special enzimes, their constitution is built specifically. These arw just some of the signs and factors.

    • avatar

      I think vegetarians consume milk, cheese and eggs, but the vegetarians are even worse.

    • avatar

      But hey facts, veganism is suitable for all life stages.
      ofc create your own story that has nothing to do with the facts.

    • avatar

      like gorillas xD
      Your simplification of biology or anatomy shows how factless you are.

    • avatar

      The vegans should put some real arguments backing their position, it is silly just to insist on something.

    • avatar

      there is no conversation as the experts know whats up. You just keep spreading fake news.
      First one doesnt need to read anything when the experts are clear on it.
      Secondly I have read more about veganism than you will ever have as I am not switching diets just because I can.
      What you are doing is what we should call the meat addiction. Not wanting to see facts as you do not want to switch your behaviour.

    • avatar

      I am expert funny boy and don’t mistake my diplomas with google and the countless different agendas there. I leave you to the natural selection and the “scientists said” level.

    • avatar

      lolz i mean eating chicken and eggs is more environmentally friendly than buying from a store that uses transportation. + I mean more nutritious bcz ur body actually absorbs the nutrients rather than supplements that are not absorbed.

    • avatar

      if you had looked in the link i posted you woulvé seen that transportation is only responsible for a very small percentage of CO2 emmissions of meat & dairy products..

    • avatar

      i dont insist facts are facts. Lol yet you come with nothing but random ranting.

  9. avatar

    Nice whataboutism Stella Gk. the few studies that exist suggests a vegan diet is possible for children although there are some concerns regarding the lack of adequate research.
    And the use of almond milk actually is good for the environment with respect to using cows milk.…/carbon-footprints…/
    Im not sure what data you are using but i’d like to see it.
    Whats more detrimental ultimately depends on how much you use of it. Transportation is a big factor for global warming, but so is the way we deal with meat. Raising your own chickens and eating eggs is definetly not gonna help in reducing worldwide CO2, it might feel nice but it is not gonna be very helpful when chicken CO2 emissions are already low.
    If you really want to care about CO2 emmisions buying less clothes is the best option since the fashion industry has 8% share in world CO2 equivalent emissions.
    PS: something being synthetic doesn’t mean its bad.

  10. avatar

    ah your great laugh smily ofc coming from a dietitian agency. Stop spreading fake news.

  11. avatar

    you mean, people can survive being vegans.

  12. avatar

    Yes, it is child abuse and will have far-reaching consequences for the child in terms of development and health, especially endocrine and cardiovascular.

    • avatar

      no it doesnt. All stages of life are for vegans. You do have people that do not understand what food is and they will fck up. So education is key.

    • avatar

      We are biologically omnivores and so veganism doesn’t work for everyone, most of the time gves all sorts of deficiencies so definitely shouldn’t be forced on children, when they are of age to understand they can choose by themselves

    • avatar

      actually, deficiencies are common among the entire population (eg. Vit. D). The only nutrient that cannot be found in anything but animal products is vit. B12. But ironically, because vegans are usually aware that they have to pay attention to their intake and take supplements, they tend to be less prone to deficiencies as the general population.

  13. avatar

    No it’s not wrong if you really understand how to eat the correct balance between protein, carbs and various vitamins. Many young children don’t like much meat anyway. The problem is most people don’t know or understand how a balanced vegan diet should work. B12 is now being added to most plant based milk so that’s not an issue.

    • avatar

      The question isn’t how a grown person should chose to eat. It’s about taking away that choice from children and enforcing a diet on them based on your own choices and views. Not to mention there are numerous detrimental effects a bad diet can have on the developing organism of a child.

    • avatar

      B12 you find in meat is nowhere else to be found. Not with the same effects.

    • avatar

      is not teaching them to like meat forcing your views on them too? Also the milk you drink might not be as healthy as you think it is. All mammals produce milk that encourages antibodies and immune systems in the newborn for the first week of lactation, then after that the milk changes. Farmers though are taking away calf’s from their mothers as soon as they are born, so you are consuming this milk which is hardly healthy, you are not for example a baby cow.

    • avatar

      really, then how come so many Vegan athletes are doing so well
      Great Vegan Athletes: World Class Vegan Athletes

    • avatar

      it is not just about B12, the veganism, as the genderism is against the nature, but leave them and their choices on the natural selection.

    • avatar

      we are talking about very young children, whose bodies need all the elements which are crucial to a healthy growing. Don t mix the grown ups here, please. Those athletes’ diet is closely monitored by specialists.

    • avatar

      whose choices?

    • avatar

      Fact: Young chidren die every year due to malnurtrition in the developed countries because their idiotic parents force their vegan diets on them.
      Children eat what they grow accustomed to eating. They don’t like bitter tastes and things with unhomogenous texture.

    • avatar

      I don’t care if they like meat, I know it’s good for them and they should eat it. Plus there are also eggs and dairy products, in case a kid hates meat so much. The fact of the matter is these foods are extremely good for a growing human being. That doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t eat vegetables. In fact the best diet is a balance of meat, eggs, dairy, cereal (grains) and greens. No processed foods and no junk food.

    • avatar

      To each his own….but when you are forced to take supplements to ensure vitamins, minerals and enzymes….isn’t that enough evidence ?

    • avatar

      I’ve also seen peeled oranges being sold in plastic containers.

  14. avatar

    Leave the damn kids to eat whatever they want as long as you guide them on healthy food. And when I say healthy I mean lean beef, lean chicken, fish etc. Not just some garden flowers.

    • avatar

      take them to a slaughterhouse then aswel

    • avatar

      u don’t need to see where veggies are harvested to eat. Your comment is just stupid

    • avatar

      I’d gladly show my kids where meat comes from. Eating animals is perfectly natural.

    • avatar

      farmers kill their animals themselves. Killing a living being in order to obtain food is not wrong, is natural. Also plants are living beings, yet we kill them to eat vegetables and fruit. Of course veg&fruit don’t scream when you cut them, but they still are living beings.

  15. avatar

    Of course it’s not wrong, though you won’t be raising them for long on such diet.

  16. avatar

    Why not raise them with “a bit of everything” diet? Probably will help them to surfise through different cultures.

  17. avatar

    We are all omnivorous, so the answer is clear. People could say poor animals but others could also say poor vegetables as well. If we’re made to eat both meat and vegetables let’s eat them all

  18. avatar

    It’s not wrong, it’s crazy and criminal.

  19. avatar

    I’ve no intention of finding out.

  20. avatar

    It’s not wrong, it’s crazy and criminal.

  21. avatar

    Only in the same way as raising a child to be religious before they can make the choice themselves

  22. avatar

    A 100% vegan diet can be harmful if a child has digestive issues exacerbated by certain sugars food plants, nutrients may not be absorbed so well due to the anti-nutrients in food plants , their bodies may not be able to handle the phytotoxin and pesticide load, their growing bodies may need more absorbable and accessible essential nutrients, they may end up eating too many bad processed carbs to satiate their hunger. It is irresponsible to interfere with a child’s growth, development,hormones with ambiguous non-bioavailable nutrients. Veganism selects bias information to justify their diet. Objective information shows the dark side of veganism. Also forcing children to replace essential nutrients from natural food with synthetic nutrients in the form of non-FDA approved supplements is reckless- the long term effects could be harmful.
    Delete, hide or report this

  23. avatar

    Dear Debating Europe, did it ever cross your mind to ask nutritionists and doctors?
    I understand their knowledge is far less valuable and biased than a blogger that makes money with her opinion or an interest association… but give it a try…

    • avatar
      Debating Europe

      Dear Mário, thank you for your comment! You will find that Isabelle Mulkerrins, the vegan blogger, has actually studied nutrition and is a certified health coach & nutritionist…

  24. avatar

    Mediterranean diet is the best to consume. The foundation of the Mediterranean diet is vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans and whole grains plenty of olive oil. Meals are built around these plant-based foods. Moderate amounts of dairy, poultry and eggs are also central to the Mediterranean Diet, as is seafood. In contrast, red meat is eaten only occasionally.

    • avatar

      And beef, and pork, and chicken, and sea food, and fish…

  25. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    Is it wrong to raise children with a vegan diet?

    Children who are denied milk or dairy products can often be at risk of severe illness as they can go without enough vitamin D, supplied via animal foods, causing them great pain.

    Symptoms of rickets include:
    pain or tenderness in the bones of the arms, legs, pelvis, or spine.
    stunted growth and short stature.
    bone fractures.
    muscle cramps.
    teeth deformities, such as: delayed tooth formation. holes in the enamel. …
    skeletal deformities, including: an oddly shaped skull. bowlegs, or legs that bow out.

    It is definitely wrong for parents not to know of this dreadful problem in a civilised society. It is also wrong to deny them access to the education that would prevent such conditions.

  26. avatar

    You can but it will be underdeveloped

  27. avatar

    Belgian association of pediatricians says yes, it is wrong.

  28. avatar

    There’s a better way of respecting the animals than being vegan. If you buy some meat, at least treat it with respect. Cook it with care. You know, to make sure that animal that lived a shitty life in a slaughterhouse didn’t die just to get in the trashcan.

  29. avatar

    I have been completely vegan for the first three years of my life and I’m alive and well so…

  30. avatar

    Yes. It’s totally wrong. We need all types of food. Not only fruits and vegetables.

    • avatar

      Imagine not even knowing what kind of food is vegan and still speaking

  31. avatar

    Yes. When the child grow up it can choose it’s religion

  32. avatar

    If doing it with intelligence, yes. As everything. But of course, if you give your two months old almond milk instead of his mother milk, you will rush into problems. Omega 3 from algae, and b12 from pills, as the veggie source are not really available anymore. And woosh, you have a kid who will live 90+

  33. avatar

    You have to really understand nutrition and how to balance meals, if you do it right it’s better for them. Many children don’t even like meat, they acquire the taste for it as it.

  34. avatar

    It doesn’t matter what we “think”, it’s about what experts conclude

  35. avatar

    Yes. While theoretically from certain age it can be done, its just that- in theory. Most vegans have tough time making sure their own needs are met. As adults. Who dont have changing needs. Now, childrens needs change rapidly as they grow and you mean to say you can keep track of it? Besides its same as with religion- let the kid decide that for themselves when they grow up once they have grown up.
    Now that isnt to say that people shouldnt eat more plant-based food, they definetly should. But honestly, avoiding anything animal-based is just plain wrong and here is a side effect many vegans dont consider- its raising price of otherwise affordable staple foods in poor regions. I have seen a lot of people say how much “poor people food” prices have skyrocketed ever since veganism became more commonplace.

  36. avatar

    Yes it is wrong, as feeding children with processed garbage is wrong as well. In both cases childrens’ health is in danger because of the lifestyle lead by their parents

  37. avatar

    Of course….We are too many in this planet…Stupid people kids not needed….

  38. avatar

    My little one is allergic to nuts, milk, eggs, wheat I can’t imagine I wouldn’t be able to feed him with fish, chicken or red meat. I checked many vegan products and some of them we use as a alternative to dairy products but I am not blind. To create something which will be similar to meat, milk, or eggs you have to process food much more and put many strange things inside to mimic natural taste ( in many cases more oils or sugars). it is really difficult to balance proper vegan diet for adult. Doing it for fussy 2 years old toddler it is almost impossible (think not only about products but also about quantity – in vegan diet you have to eat much more to cover daily requirements of proteins, vitamins and minerals also you have to remember that some minerals are harder to be obtained from plant than meat or dairy)

  39. avatar

    Yes. It is. Humans are omnivores, we need meat at least occasionally as part of our diet.

  40. avatar
    Elouise P Smith

    vegan isn’t right a minor person. It doesn’t matter what we “think”, it’s about what experts conclude

  41. avatar

    According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, with over 100k credentialed practitioners, have stated that a diet without animal products is appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, and for athletes.

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