I have been a vegetarian for as long as I can remember. I would cry if my parents tried to make me eat meat. By the time I entered my tweens, I just refused any meat at all, even bits of bacon sprinkled on something. My grandmother, alarmed by this, brought me to a doctor when I was 11. The doctor ran a battery of blood tests. Back came the verdict: I was perfectly healthy, and he told her to let me eat what I wanted. For good measure, he gave her a list of "high protein foods" like beans and peanuts, that I should get, but I don't recall anyone bothering about making sure I ate them.
Fast forward to today, and I'm still mostly vegetarian (I occasionally eat fish) and sometimes vegan. I finally broke down and began eating cheese made with milk again, after years of tasteless vegan cheese. I also eat yogurt. (True vegans don't eat dairy products.)
At any rate, vegetarianism/veganism is not something that I was introduced to by anyone. I actually have no idea why, as a kid, I didn't like meat or even seafood (I began eating a bit of that only in my 20s). My family all ate meat. They thought it was strange that I didn't.
Today, I am big animal rights advocate. But that is not what started me on vegetarianism. As a kid, I didn't have a clue about factory farms, animal cruelty, or methane gas causing global warming or any of the other things touched upon in Ruby Roth's new and controversial children's book, Vegan Is Love. When people ask me why I am a vegetarian, I like to say, "To annoy you." (Joke.)
But vegetarianism/veganism has worked well for me. I'm the same body size and weight that I was as a teen. I haven't had a cold in almost a decade. I've never had a major illness. My bloodwork is always excellent, and I have double the HDL (good cholesterol) that most people have. Whether this is the result of vegetarism, I don't know. But my diet and my lifestyle (which includes regular exercise) has worked well for me. (Knock on wood!)
However, I have seen veganism not work for people. I once met a girl who had become a vegan a few months before and already her hair was falling out in big chunks and her skin looked pasty white. A male friend of mine tried it and began getting colds all of the time. So, not everyone reacts to this diet positively.
If you want your child to be on a vegan diet I would recommend introducing it slowly, and to note any changes in her skin, hair, and general health. Make certain that she gets her protein from other sources (like green vegetables, nuts, legumes, tofu, etc.). Watch her energy level and sleeping patterns. In short, do it slowly, reasonably, and don't get too fanatical about it.
Would you want your child to be a vegan?
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