Top Five Tips For Transitioning Your Kid to Plant Based

Hello, I’m Charlotte! I’m a yoga and meditation instructor, founder of Raw + Basic – a conscious living brand where I host yoga retreats and wellness events – and I’m a contributor to Huffington Post. You can find me on Instagram at @charlotteannas!

Transition Slowly 

My decision to transition to plant-based happened gradually over a decade or so – it began as something I slowly adopted for health reasons, and with time became a choice I embraced out of ethical and environmental concerns too. I did plenty of research on my own as well as checking in with my doctor to make sure I was on track. I learnt to cook nutrient dense, plant-based recipes and I really enjoyed the health benefits of my lifestyle choices, so it made sense to me to raise my son in the same way. For anyone considering this transition for their own families, it can seem daunting at first, but my best advice would be to take it one day at a time. Small changes have a BIG impact, and incorporating more plants into your diet is not only great for the health of your and your family, like David Attenborough tells us, it’s truly important for the health of the planet too!

Check In With Your Health Professional

Cross checking my decision to raise my son plant-based with our family doctor was key – while I know a fair amount about health and wellness, I am by no means a medical professional and I always consult an expert when it comes to the health of my family. I continue to monitor my son’s health and development with regular visits to our GP who is well aware of our lifestyle choices and assures me that my son is a paragon of health! In addition to seeking medical advice when my son was born, I also connected with an expert nutritionist, Aviva Allen, to familiarize myself with my son’s needs. It’s crucial to understand your child’s nutritional requirements and how to obtain them from plant-based sources, and then the FUN begins as you learn how to prepare and incorporate a wide variety of ingredients and experiment with recipes and meals.

Get Inspired!

One of the wonderful things about social media is how simple it is to access the global plant-based community, which I have found to be a welcoming hub of information and inspiration.  Whether you’re inspired by vegan athletes, plant powered nutritionists, or healthy living lifestyle leaders, you’ll find them all online.  Following plant-based food bloggers is one of the best ways to ease your transition to preparing your own plant-based meals for your family – try out their recipes and get to know what you and your family enjoy making and eating!  I’m admittedly obsessed with collecting plant-based cookbooks which are a great source of inspiration – I love @hotforfood and @ohsheglows for #vegan inspo and @joyoushealth has lots of plant-based, kid-friendly options too.  And don’t forget podcasts – there is a ton of fun and informative info out there – in fact my fellow #plantposse member Julia Murray hosts Whistler Vegan Fest The Podcast which you should totally check out!

Invite Your Kids To Be Part Of The Fun!

Going plant-based is something the whole family can enjoy – getting my son in on the fun certainly helps make our dietary choices something he gets excited about. He loves fresh kale chips and will gladly roll up his sleeves and give those leaves a nice oily massage! Older kids can handle a bigger role in the family’s food prep – at the age of 8 my son understands nutrition, so I invite him to prepare his own vegan charcuterie style lunches. He enjoys taking responsibility for his choices and having some freedom in what he eats! Let’s not forget about #plantbased treats – we LOVE enjoying all sorts of goodies as a family – @kellysbake, @bunner and @torisbakeshop are among our Toronto faves as well as @sftebakery – yum! We never feel restricted or like we are missing out – in fact it’s the opposite – there are so many delicious options for us that support the planet and our animal friends!

It’s All About Balance.

Balance  is a key component of a healthy plant-based diet, checking in with how we are feeling, and respecting our body’s needs and actual hunger is paramount, and making sure we pull from all the food groups keeps us healthy. Periodically my son and I chat about the choice to eat plant-based as I want to keep the dialogue open as he grows older. Currently he is happy to enjoy our choices, he is a nature lover and understands the decision to stay away from animal products in our food is a conscientious one. Having said that, there are times when he will come across a non vegan candy at a birthday party for example and if he wants to eat it I am ok with that.  We have a hard and fast no meat rule, and all the food we cook and eat in our home is plant-based, but in social settings with his friends I often let him make his own choices.  As he goes out into the world more and more without me, I am aware that I can’t control the decisions he will make (nor would I want to), I can only equip him with the foundation to make what I hope will be the best choices for himself.  I focus on what I can provide – a loving home filled with nourishing plant-based food to support his growth and development, and that feels just right for both of us.

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