Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Should Your Family Go Vegan? THINK BEING VEGAN INVOLVES NOTHING BUT SEAWEED SMOOTHIES AND EATING YOUR OWN BODYWEIGHT IN SPROUTED SEEDS? THINK AGAIN. DAISY FOX LOOKS INTO WHAT IT REALLY MEANS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Should Your Family Go Vegan? THINK BEING VEGAN INVOLVES NOTHING BUT SEAWEED SMOOTHIES AND EATING YOUR OWN BODYWEIGHT IN SPROUTED SEEDS? THINK AGAIN. DAISY FOX LOOKS INTO WHAT IT REALLY MEANS

Article excerpt

Byline: DAISY FOX

WHEN I say I am vegan, the reaction is often the same. "Well, what on earth do you eat? There's no way I could do that."

What do they think I eat? Raw potatoes? Dust? In reality, vegans avoid all animal products. For example we don't eat meat or fish and we also avoid anything that comes from an animal such as eggs, dairy, honey, silk or wool.

People become vegan for different reasons. I know some who are worried about the environmental impact of farming on a gigantic scale to feed the world's ever-growing population.

Some choose the lifestyle for animal rights reasons. Some are in pursuit of the glowing skin/slim figure/ultra-healthy image that some celebrities attribute to a plant-based diet.

Once you become vegan, you quickly learn which foods you can eat and which to avoid. Some labels state their suitability quite clearly, but there are many more that don't. I've read a lot of ingredient lists over the years.

At first I was surprised at just how many foods are vegan. There are the obvious ones - such as fruit and veg, dry pasta, baked beans, Marmite, ciabatta, rice and chips (cooked in veggie oil).

But dig a little deeper and you'll find a whole range of foods that are 'accidentally vegan' - ie. by pure coincidence rather than design - such as Bourbon biscuits and peanut butter.

Looking online is a good way to find out and lists are updated regularly.

Identifying vegan foods has become easier lately due to the wider range of Free From products available as supermarkets scramble for the custom of those with different dietary requirements.

I cook a lot of dishes from scratch - which is by far the best way to ensure you get the nutrients you need - but there are vegan burgers, sausages, bacon and even fishless fingers on offer for nights when we are in a rush.

Being vegan doesn't always mean you are the picture of health - a whole host of junk foods are vegan - but it does mean that you are more aware of the body's nutritional needs.

You need to find purely plant-based sources of protein, vitamins and all the essential nutrients in the right quantities that your body needs to function normally. And find these in foods that all the family will enjoy.

So what should parents be mindful of when choosing a wholly plant-based diet for themselves and their children? Dr Alexandra Phelan, our Family Health GP columnist, advises: "Parents feeding their children a vegan diet should take steps to ensure they are consuming the full range of nutrients essential for healthy growth and development.

"The Department of Health recommends that all children from the age of six months to five years, whether vegan or not, be given a daily supplement containing vitamins A, C and D. "Nut and seed butters, lentils and beans are alternative sources of the protein that children need to support growth. …

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