Millions of families are vegetarian, eating a vegan diet, be it for health reasons, or because of ethical or religious reasons. More and more health professionals are discouraging the consumption of red meats and animal fats, that have been proven to increase the chances of diseases like obesity and cancer. And many environmentalists are spreading the knowledge of how much of our natural resources are being used in the process of converting animals to food. Without meat, vegans have been able to come up with many vegan diets for babies including the one the following paragraphs will discuss.
Vegan mothers can feed their babies breast milk, or modified baby formula until the baby reaches four to six months old. At four to six months old, solids are added to the vegan diet, but they should be introduced gradually, trying one new food item at a time. Vitamin drops are commonly given to vegan children until they are at least five years old, and can be purchased at vegan stores. If no food of animals origin is being given, like milk or eggs, either soy milk should be supplemented, or a vitamin B12 supplement should be taken orally, which can also be purchased at most vegan stores.
When weaning the infant from its mother's breast milk or formula at four to six months old, it should be done gradually, and solid foods should be introduced slowly, small portions at a time. Once the baby starts getting used to the new food, quantities can be safely increased, and you can try a little variety in the baby's vegan diet. Foods suitable for a vegan diet are:
1. Baby rice mixed with water or formula
2. Smooth mixture of fruit
3. Smooth mixture of vegetables
Remember, if the baby is thirsty, boiled water is suitable, as well as extremely diluted fruit juice. No salt or sugar should be added to the babies food or beverage. At about six months of age, the baby can be given apple wedges, and carrot sticks, under very close adult supervision.
At seven to nine months of age, the baby should be completely weaned from the breast milk or formula, but will still need to have at least one pint of milk a day. If cow's milk is not an option, soy milk substitute can be used, but not without first consulting with a pediatrician. The baby can now eat foods that are chopped instead of blended, and new foods can be introduced to their vegan diet, like rice cheese and tofu.
Between nine and twelve months of age, the baby's vegan diet should consist of three meals a day. Most foods that the baby's family will eat in their vegan diet will now be suitable for the baby. However, foods high in fat should be avoided, as well as nuts. Remember, in order to get the best nutritional value from the meals, it is necessary to ensure a mixture of foods are being eaten at each meal.
With more and more people becoming vegetarians for various reasons, a healthy vegan diet has been developed for children for their first year of life. It has been proven healthy, and the necessary vitamin supplements can be purchased at many vegan stores nationwide.