Q. We want to raise our baby as a vegan, but is it safe?
A. More families than ever are raising their kids as vegans, the kind of vegetarians who don’t eat any animal-related products, including dairy and eggs. Raising your baby as vegan is certainly a more challenging road, but one you can take with careful planning that may need to include supplements. Making sure your baby gets enough of certain nutrients, such as vitamin D, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin B12, omega-3s, will take some extra effort, particularly with vitamin B12, the red blood cell building nutrient that’s hardest to get from vegan foods alone. Many experts advise taking a vitamin B12 supplement of 5 to 10 micrograms per day, which, if you’re breastfeeding, will provide your baby with enough of the vitamin. Formula-fed babies should be given formula containing B12, and older babies can have a powder form of the vitamin (available at health food stores) added to food or drink, for more information on which foods contain the essential nutrients your vegan baby needs, check out The Vegetarian Resource Group, vrg.org.
Lawrence D. Rosen, M.D., is the founder of the Whole Child Center in Oradell, New Jersey, one of the first green, integrative primary care practices in the U.S.
Have a question for Dr. Rosen? E-mail him at [email protected]