The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Feeding a Vegan Toddler

Posted on November 21, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Ashley Kerckhoff, B.S.

Hello, I’m Ashley and my family follows a whole food, plant-based, “vegan,” diet. We became vegan when I was pregnant with our now 16-month-old daughter. I originally made my commitment to this way of eating for environmental sustainability reasons, and later came to learn about all the amazing health implications that come as well. Feeding a young child (especially a toddler) can be tricky, especially when taking out an entire food group. But, that’s exactly what we did and I feel confident knowing that I’m putting nutritious and delicious foods in her little tummy.

I may not be the only mom in the vegan world that has encountered a similar situation at one point or another. During snack time at the park, a play-date, or another fun-filled mom and child outing, a question arises from the non-vegan mother inquiring about what snacks I feed my vegan child. To her surprise, we eat more than just fruit for snacks. I continue to tell her that I’ve come to find that my daughter loves a variety of different vegan snacks that are healthy, easy, and transportable. One great snack is hummus with either veggies or a whole-grain pita. My daughter is a late teether so softer veggies (like steamed carrots or tomatoes) is what we go towards. She also loves homemade vegan muffins (let your kids help make them, they will love it and it fills up play time on those rainy days!), Lara bars, green smoothies (get in those colorful veggies) and homemade protein balls (Plant-Powered Families by Dreena Burton has a great recipe). If your kiddo has plenty of teeth and you are confident your child can chew these items without choking, trail mix (nuts and dried fruit only) is another great, healthy snack! Also, I always make sure to add a good source of vitamin C to her snacks (as well as meals) in order to increase iron absorption.

What about breakfast hits for young children? Besides oatmeal or a sugary and processed cereal of some kind, most households enjoy animal products for breakfast whether it be eggs, yogurt, sausage, or bacon. What seems to be a HUGE hit with my daughter are smoothies! They are so versatile (not to mention quick and easy to make) with nutrition and flavor that both child and mom are happy! We tend do a combination of oats, frozen banana, almonds or peanut butter, chia or flax seeds, a pinch of cinnamon, and unsweetened soy milk (soy milk is usually fortified with vitamin B12, an essential supplement for vegans, which is why we give this non-dairy milk to our daughter). Full of amazing nutrients, this smoothie is both filling, tastes great, and is so quick to throw together on busy mornings. Adding a spoonful or two of canned pumpkin plus some nutmeg gives it a nice fall twist (and an extra serving of veggies!). My daughter also likes non-dairy yogurt such as unsweetened (to avoid all the added sugars) soy or coconut milk yogurt with added toppings like granola and seasonal fruit. Finding a great chia pudding recipe is also a huge life saver as its super easy to make, keeps well in the fridge for a while, and similar to yogurt, is a blank canvas for adding whatever whole food toppings your child likes. Little tip: get your young child involved in the topping-picking process. It gets them involved in the kitchen, lets them be creative, and teaches them about healthy eating. They will also be more likely to eat the snack if they help make it!

For more information, see:

You can also order the book Plant-Powered Families by Dreena Burton from The Vegetarian Resource Group Book catalog:

The contents of this posting, our website, and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

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