Teaching Good Eating to Children – A Lesson in Vegan Food Pyramid Building
by Cynthia Mosher
As a vegan, you get all the usual questions: If you don’t eat meat or animal products, how do you get your protein? How can you make cakes and cookies and such without using eggs? If you don’t eat cheese or drink milk, how do you stay bone healthy? What the heck do you eat?
Vegans eat a variety of different foods, including fruits, vegetables, and grains. In fact, these foods make up the base of the vegan food pyramid. The upper portion of the pyramid contains legumes, seeds, and beans, and fortified dairy substitutes. At the top are vegetables oils, vegetable fats, and nuts.
Raisoing a child as a vegan is fairly straightforward when they are young. It’s when they get a bit older and are exposed to non-vegan family, friends, and peer pressure that it gets a bit more complicated. Food choices are questioned and challenged. Nutritional health becomes compromised as junk food invades their world and they begin to make their own choices of what they eat from a menu outside the home kitchen. As the parent of a vegan child, you can use all the help available to educate, support, and reinforce the importance and benefits of a good vegan diet.
“Eat Liberally,” “Eat Generously,” “Eat Moderately” and “Eat Sparingly” are four key phrases that we should teach our children to embrace as eating guides, along with the foods that they should learn to associate with each of them. Most of us know these basics but in raising vegan children, it comes in handy to have a visual reminder of just what a vegan should be eating every day. Having a pyramid guide to encourage daily servings and good food choices can make all the difference in helping kids learn how to meet their daily nutrition needs. And yes, there IS a vegan food pyramid!Similar to the standard food pyramid for meat eaters, this one is just for vegans. It floats in a sea of water (get 8-10 glasses a day, it tells you).
You can purchase a 36″x24″ poster of the Vegan Food Pyramid here. It makes an inspirational and educational picture to grace your kitchen or dining room wall. Homeschoolers will find it especially helpful as a teaching aid for nutrition lessons. Or you can make your own pyramid by clipping food pictures and making a project out of it with your kids, reinforcing the ideas of food groups and their place in the triangle of nutrition.
Teaching the basics of good eating is one of the most important steps a parent can take to prevent childhood obesity and help children understand excellent nutrition. Another important step is to live what we teach.