Pick Fortified Versions of Vegan Products: Make sure you purchase a fortified soy or almond milk that contains plenty of Vitamin D, calcium and B12. Soy milk is higher in protein than almond and rice milk.
Boost Foods Your Children Love With Fruits & Veggies: Chop up leafy greens & mushrooms and add them to spaghetti sauce, add raw greens to smoothies, mix finely grated carrots into dairy-free cream cheese. Make avocado chocolate pudding or black bean brownies for dessert.
Supplement with B12: Like all vegetarians, children should be taking an adequate Vitamin B12 supplement and have B12 levels tested by their doctor. It’s easy to find at any regular pharmacy.
Play with Your Food: Children love to grow, cook, and discover new foods! Get them involved and make it fun. Kids who are engaged in their food from seed to table are likely to have healthy eating habits for life.
Visit to a Farm Sanctuary: There are many wonderful farm animal sanctuaries and animal rescue organizations that you can visit and support. Having respectful, educational and fun experiences with animals will foster compassion in your kids. Find a full list of Ontario farm sanctuaries here.
5 Easy Meal Ideas for Kids
Vegan Pizza: It’s so easy to get vegan pizza these days! Mamma’s Pizza, Pizza Nova, Panago Pizza, Pizza Pizza, 241 Pizza, and Pizzaiolo are common chains that offer dairy-free cheese. Or simply order pizza without the cheese and ask for extra veggies! Make a quick pita pizza at home by picking up a can of pizza sauce, Yves veggie pepperoni slices and Daiya dairy-free cheese, all available at most regular grocery stores.
Veggie Dogs and Burgers: Veggie dogs and burgers are now found widely at any regular grocery store, with common brands Beyond Meat, Lightlife, Yves, and Tofurky.
Hummus and Veggies or Pitas: There’s so many different flavours of hummus these days, your kids will have fun picking out their favourite in the grocery store! Send them to school with a pita and a mix of chopped veggies for healthy lunches and snacks packed with protein and iron.
Burrito Bar Night: Involve the kids by setting up a buffet burrito and taco bar in the kitchen! Get a mix of hard and soft tortillas, a jar of salsa, heat up black beans, prepare guacamole and veggie ground “beef” with taco cumin and chili powder, and prepare torn up lettuce. Kids can pick their own toppings and mix and match!
Kids Love Pasta! Throw together a simple spaghetti and tomato sauce with veggies and/or vegetarian ground “beef”, or a mac and cheese made with dairy-free Daiya cheese. Get creative in the kitchen making lasagna with layers of veggies like thinly sliced zucchini and tofu, spaghetti with tomato-red lentil sauce or mac and “cheese” using a homemade cashew sauce.
TVA’s Veg Guide: Get familiar with places to order vegan birthday cake so your kids don’t feel like they have to miss out on anything. There are plenty of places in the GTA like Sweets from the Earth, Rashmi’s Bakery and Bunner’s Bake Shop that do custom cakes for any occasion! Veg.ca/directory (Search bakeries)
Veg Families Social Groups: Visit veg.ca/groups to find a link to the Toronto Veg Families, and York Region Vegetarian Families Groups. Give your children a chance to meet other vegetarians, and chat with other parents of vegetarians to get ideas and support.
Books: Check out Raising Vegetarian Children by registered dietitian Vesanto Melina, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Eating For Kids by Dana Villamagna and Andrew Villamagna, M.D. and Dreena Burton’s Plant Powered Families.
Eat Right Ontario: Visit eatrightontario.ca and search for vegetarian children. The first article that comes up is a great resource for planning a healthy, vegetarian meal plan for your children. You can also use the toll-free number on their website to speak with a registered dietitian anytime you have questions!
Fun Stuff For Kids: Check out PETA kids for fun games, quizzes and activities for kids. Goodreads.com has a great list of vegetarian-friendly childrens’ books.