Could You Do a 'Veganist' Diet?

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Virtually all children like the following:

Legumes: baked beans (okay to add cut-up veggie hot dogs), lentil soup, split pea soup, peas, bean burritos, bean tacos

Vegetables: carrots, green beans, vegetable soup, salads

Grains: rice, whole grain bread, oatmeal, cold cereals with soy milk or rice milk, corn, vegan pizza, spaghetti with chunky tomato sauce

Fruits: apples, bananas, and all others

Meat analogues: veggie burgers, veggie hot dogs, etc.

The soy-based ones have a cancer-preventing effect for girls, and are healthful for all children. It is also important to provide a pediatric multiple vitamin. PCRM has a book called Healthy Eating for Life: For Children, which is very detailed on veganism and kids.

Frequently Asked Questions, Answered by the Doctor

4. Do I need to take any particular vitamins or minerals because of eating this way?

Actually, vegans generally have better overall vitamin intake, compared with meat eaters. Meat has essentially no vitamin C and is low in many other vitamins as well. In contrast, vegetables, fruits, and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils) are vitamin-rich. In controlled studies, people switching to vegan diets typically increase their intake of several vitamins, and reduce their intake of the undesirables—saturated fat and cholesterol, in particular.

Even so, two vitamins deserve special comment:

Vitamin B12 is made, not by plants or animals, but by bacteria. Animal products contain B12 made by the bacteria in their intestinal tracts. A more healthful source is any common multiple vitamin. B12 supplements are also widely available.

Vitamin D normally comes from exposure to the sun. About fifteen minutes of direct sunlight on your face and arms each day gives you all the vitamin D you need. However, if you are indoors much of the day or live in an area where sunlight is limited, it is important to take a supplement. Any common multivitamin is fine. Most foods have little or no vitamin D. Certain fish contain some vitamin D, but they also harbor cholesterol, mercury, and other things you don't want. Surprisingly, mushrooms (for example, shiitakes and chanterelles) contain vitamin D. Five dried shiitakes provide roughly 5 micrograms of vitamin D. You'll also find it in fortified soy milk.

Nowadays, some health authorities recommend high vitamin D intakes—up to 2,000 IU (50 micrograms) per day,because of its reputed cancer-fighting properties. To get there, you'll need to take a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is plant-derived, while vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, typically comes from lanolin in sheep's wool.

Frequently Asked Questions, Answered by the Doctor

5. How much protein do I need and where is the best place to get it?

A plant-based diet easily provides all the protein the body needs. There is no need for meat, dairy products, or eggs for protein, and you are better off without them. Vegetables, grains, and beans give you plenty of protein, even if you are active and athletic. And there is no need to eat these foods in any special combinations. The normal mixtures of food people choose from day to day easily satisfy protein needs.

For people who like technical details, protein is made up of amino acids. Each amino acid molecule is like a bead, and many amino acids together make up the protein chain. There are many different amino acids, and all of the essential ones are found in plants.

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