The health benefits of eating a plant-based diet don’t begin when you are an adult. Children can benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables as well, so why not get the whole family on board. With flavourful fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and nuts, seeds and grains, you have a basketful of ingredients ready to create delicious meat-free meals.
Any balanced meal should include some vegetables/fruit, healthy fats, grains, and protein. Having a balance of these macronutrients will provide you and your family members with the energy and strength needed to be active and feel your best.
Children in particular need a variety of nutrients to support growth and development. Having meals that contain healthy fats, protein and carbs will provide them with everything they need to grow and fuel activity.
Here are 5 great reasons to get your family on the plant-based eating train:
1. Health Benefits
Eating a plant-based diet is associated with reduced risk of chronic disease such as cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease, as well as a decrease in fatigue, depression and anxiety.
2. More of the Good Stuff
With a plant-based diet you get more of the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, happy and energized. You get more phytochemicals, antioxidants, fibre and plant protein. All of these nutrients help fuel activity and support child growth.
3. Save Money
Feeding a family can get pricey, and plant-based sources of protein are significantly cheaper than meat.
4. Save Time
Plant-based meals typically require less cooking time, which is perfect for the busy and active family. Use canned beans for a quick source of protein in stirfries or tacos (see recipe).
5. Save the Planet
Our environment can benefit from more plant-based eating. Increased produce consumption means farmers will grow more fruits and vegetables; decreased meat consumption will help lower livestock emissions.
Let your children know how they are making a difference for their planet with a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Tips To Get Your Family Eating More Plant-Based Meals
Start slow – Begin by upping your fruit & vegetable intake
Most people don’t love change, so don’t make too many changes all at once. Start slow, incorporating a new vegetable into meal times each week. Have a meatless Monday, or try a plant-based version of a family favourite, like veggie tacos, veggie pizza, or veggie burgers.
Make it fun for the entire family
- Try a new recipe together and rate it out of 5 stars
- Try a vegetarian restaurant
- Let your child pick out new foods to try
- Get the kids to help prepare your meal
- Try a family cook off – partner up and see who can make the tastiest plant-based meals
Grow your own
Growing your own fruits or vegetables, even if they are micro versions is a great way to have your child connect to the food they are eating. Kids who grow their own veggies are more likely to eat, or at the very least, try them. It’s a great opportunity to teach your children about healthy eating, compost and our environment.
Focus on the benefits
Whether you are doing it for health reasons, environmental reasons, to fuel activity, or because you like those flavours more, remind your children why it’s important to eat this way. Knowledge is power, no matter how old you are.