When raising children, we must come to the realization that they are going to grow into their own people and establish their own identities. This means that they may make different choices than their parents and that is okay.
One mother is learning this as her daughters are growing older and are straying from some of the dietary restrictions that were imposed on them since birth.
Together, the mother and daughters have agreed on a reasonable compromise to make everyone happy and comfortable.
The mother is vegan and makes her daughters pay for any meat and dairy products they want using their allowance money.
Since 2011, 41-year-old Luana Ribeira has been following a strict vegan diet. The Welsh mother-of-two also introduced her children, 13-year-old Seren and 12-year-old Ellie to the same diet and they have stuck to it for most of their lives.
However, as the girls are growing older, they have expressed the desire to expand their diet, incorporating non-vegan options into it.
Ribeira was initially conflicted about their decision. “Being vegan is hugely important to me and it was a struggle coming to terms with the fact that my daughters didn’t want to be vegan anymore,” the mother told Newsweek.
Although, she quickly came to terms with the fact that her daughters had the right to make decisions about their own bodies, which included eating a diet they believed was ideal for them.
“It was a case of them suddenly being surrounded by other kids who aren’t vegan at school and feeling like they were missing out. I was gutted and so confused as they had been so passionate about before,” Ribeira explains.
Since her children are still living under their roof, the vegan mother and her daughters reached a compromise that would allow them to eat a non-vegan diet without Ribeira having to indirectly contribute to the meat and dairy industry.
The girls are required to pay for any meat or dairy products they want with their own allowance money.
“I don’t want to contribute to the meat or dairy industries, so the compromise was that they would buy it out of their own money,” the mother said.
“I’m not happy about it, but I have to give them the freedom to make their own choices.”
The sisters earn around £80 a month, (equivalent to $100 in the U.S.). Half of their allowance goes toward non-vegan products.
Additionally, Ribeira allows them the opportunity to make more money by doing extra chores around the house.
She is not the only parent struggling with raising children on veganism.
Many other vegan parents have questioned if they should enforce the same dietary restrictions on their children.
They often seek the advice of medical professionals and other parents and discuss the benefits and drawbacks before making an informed decision.
A man took to Reddit after he and his wife decided to convert from an omnivore diet to an all-vegan diet. “We have three beautiful children aged 11, nine, and five,” the father shared.
“Although the children are aware of our new vegan lifestyle, they haven’t in six months given the impression at all that they would like to convert also.”
He asked other parents when the time was right to inform them about veganism or whether they should encourage the diet at all.
“At age five, I’d just get them vegan food whenever possible and explain why step by step,” one Redditor recommended.
“If they still want to eat animal products they should be able to but personally, I’d only cook and buy vegan and would them get their stuff on their own.”
“You don’t need to convert your children to being vegan, any more than you needed to convert them to eating animal products in the first place; they’ll just eat what you give them,” another parent claimed.
Research shows that vegan diets are safe for children, but added vitamins are recommended.
Those who eat an entirely vegan diet are at risk for nutritional deficiencies including iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamin B12.
“You want to make sure your children are getting all the vitamins and nutrients their growing bodies require,” says pediatric dietician, Katie Nowacki.
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She recommends parents provide their children with vitamins and supplements to aid their growing bodies if they are following a vegan diet to endure they are receiving all the essential nutrients.
“When a child follows a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is important to ensure adequate protein intake, as protein from plants is not absorbed as easily,” she says.
“Protein is also essential to make sure your child reaches his or her full height potential.”
Additional evidence obtained by Toronto researchers revealed that vegan diets in children are relatively safe and that they found “no significant differences” in vegan children’s growth compared to children who eat meat and dairy products.
Although it was discovered that the children may be slightly underweight, there were no concerning factors found associated with veganism.
Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.