It’s one of the biggest trends every January, but it seems that Veganuary could be very risky – for babies.
In a new article for The Conversation, Shirley Hinde and Ruth Farichild, nutrition experts from Cardiff Metropolitan University have revealed the dangers of feeding babies a vegan diet.
While getting protein through a vegan diet isn’t usually an issue, vitamins and minerals can be more of a struggle.
The experts said: “What’s more of an issue with a plant-based diet is getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, iodine, zinc and vitamins B12 and D.
“In plants, these minerals are not only restricted to certain sources but are also harder for the body to absorb because they can bind to the fibre in plants.” Getting enough iron in a vegan diet is also tough. The researchers said: “Even a varied vegan diet has the potential to cause a range of problems for babies’ growth and development.
“Not eating dairy or eggs removes an easy way to supply those vital vitamins and minerals. A vegan diet is also lower in fats (an important energy source for a small growing body) and may be lower in natural sugars because of the lack of milk, a natural source of the sugar lactose.” Instead, the researchers suggest that parents should at least include eggs in their baby’s diet.
They added: “If parents have a sensible attitude and are well-established vegans, there is no reason why a baby cannot largely follow a varied, mainly vegan diet. “This would ideally have limited amounts of bulky wholegrains and some occasional egg and milk to complement their plant-based foods.”