Could You Do a 'Veganist' Diet?

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Frequently Asked Questions, Answered by the Doctor

lifetime—he spelled out some good advice for children's diets. He recommended that children be served plant-based diets—vegan diets—and that, to deal with finicky eaters, the best approach was not to arm-wrestle with children, but rather to simply find healthful foods they will eat. For example, children may not like cooked spinach, but they will like fresh spinach as part of a salad. They often are not keen on more exotic vegetables, but they are fine with corn, carrots, green beans, etc.

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?

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