By Dana Shultz of DietsInReview.com
Dreena Burton hasn’t always been a vegan. In fact, growing up she carried the title of the junk-food lovin’ kid and didn’t think much about the food that was put on the plate in front of her.
But later in life, circumstances led her to began studying the diet. And after deciding to go completely vegan, she loved the health benefits she began experiencing, including increased energy levels, a decrease in joint pain she was previously experiencing, and improved digestion. In eating vegan, Dreena also became a student of the lifestyle, and even started a blog and has written four books on the topic, including Let Them Eat Vegan and Eat, Drink and Be Vegan.
Naturally, when Dreena became a mother – now to three girls – she had to make the decision of whether or not her kids should be vegan. Dreena says she ultimately chose veganism for her kids for the same reason she chose it for herself: “Because a whole-foods, plant-powered vegan diet offers positive health benefits, and has been shown to reduce our risks of diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.”
In an interview via email, Dreena shared her thoughts on the topic of veganism for kids, and also weighed in on the controversy surrounding the new children’s book Vegan is Love, which teaches kids about the health, moral and political reasons for being vegan.
In her recent blog post, “Motherhood, Vegan Parenting, and ‘Imposing Your Beliefs on Your Children,’” Dreena pointed out that there’s a school of thought concerning veganism that says feeding kids a vegan diet not only imposes the parents’ beliefs on them, but also sets them up for malnourishment.
To that she said, “Yes, I suppose without proper guidance a child eating vegan could become malnourished. But so could a child on a meat and dairy-centric diet. Or, that ‘well-rounded’ SAD [Standard American Diet] approach to eating,” she said. “How much fiber are they getting on that diet? How much vitamin C, phytonutrients, and antioxidants?”
Dreena also pointed out that what most kids are getting a lot of on the standard diets is cholesterol, saturated animal fats, refined sugars and flours, and likely also trans fats and artificial colors and flavorings.
One of the other controversies surrounding Vegan is Love, is that the very title itself suggests that vegans believe leading a vegan lifestyle is the only way to be a loving person. Dreena fervently disagreed with this idea, saying “I don’t agree with that – at all. Many loving people are not vegan. My mom isn’t vegan but you bet she is loving! Living vegan simply allows us to expand and extend our capacity to love, to other people, ourselves, and all living beings.”
You can find more of Dreena’s thoughts on veganism, as well as a collection of tasty, family friendly vegan recipes, at her blog, Dreena Burton’s Plant Powered Kitchen.