Raising a Vegan Child

My son, Luke, has been vegan his whole life. He is 3 years old.

I nursed Luke until he was 8 months old. When he quit, he drank water or plant-based milks like soy and almond. My pediatrician was a little concerned at first, but as time has gone on, she is so pleased with his growth, I get high fives! But beyond the numbers, the doctor is impressed with how smart Luke is, how personable and interested he is. About six months ago, the doctor told Luke she was going to New Zealand. We came home and he asked me where it was on the map. And the last time we were there, he asked her how New Zealand was. I know she is also impressed with Luke’s food. (And p.s., she is a subscriber to this blog. Hi!)

Speaking of Luke’s food, for the first six months, I made everything he ate. He started with avocados and bananas. Then I added Happy Bellies Multi-Grain Cereal mixed with prune puree, his breakfast for 12 straight months.

Luke’s favorite meal was what I called the “orange” lunch. I would roast carrots and zucchini with olive oil and a dash of salt. And I would make a few cups of navy beans. I would puree it all together with my immersion blender. I made rice and lentils by mixing rice cereal with fresh lentils and pureeing that. I did the same with broccoli and spinach. I would freeze all of these concoctions in ice cube trays, and when they were frozen, I would pop them into a freezer bag. When it was time to eat, I would defrost 2 to 4 at a time.

Eventually, Luke started eating what I was eating and his palate is quite sophisticated. He loves tofu, tempeh, beans (all kinds except black eyed peas and I can’t blame him), sautéed greens like spinach, green beans (his most favorite), snap peas, green peas, lentils, rice, pasta, corn, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes (hello, what kid do you know who eats radishes?), strawberries, blueberries, grapes, kiwis, cashews, peanuts, almonds, and walnuts.

Interestingly, he does not like sweet potatoes, vegan cheese, and he is not that into dessert. He will have a bite of a cookie or a spoonful of chocolate pudding (which is good because that means more for me.) He used to be really into ice cream (vegan, of course) but seems to be over that now.

When we go out to Candle Cafe, our most favorite vegan restaurant on 3rd Avenue between 74th and 75th (how lucky we live in the same neighborhood), people are constantly staring at my 3-year old stuffing his face with spinach, rice, green beans and tofu. He has been going to Candle since before he was born, so he is kind of a vegan child celebrity there. Oh the joy!

5 thoughts on “Raising a Vegan Child

  1. Hi! My boyfriend and I were debating the topic of someday letting our kids go trick or treating. I said no-way, I'd never allow them to go get a bunch of dairy-laden candy that I'd worked so hard to never feed them their entire lives, and he (vegetarian) says, the tradition is important and would make them further from normal if I refused to let them go, and that it's fun and they shouldn't miss out, and demands that they go. I'm wondering if there is another fun tradition I could start for my own kids instead of trick or treating, or some other important points I failed to bring up to him. Any thoughts?thanks!

  2. well, first of all i think halloween is totally commercial (the decorations, the costumes, the candy) and has no real meaning any more (if it ever did?) so i won't let my son trick or treat anyway. perhaps you can make your own treats and be the house all the kids want to come to get the best homemade treats in the neighborhood!

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