The Controversy of Veganism for Kids

By Dana Shultz of

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.


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Jo S4 years ago

Thank you Brandi.

Amandine S.
Past Member 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Patricia H.
Patricia H.6 years ago

I'm a vegan but my kids choose there own dietary needs now that they are grown

6 years ago

Maria, no one has suggested that coke and burgers are a good diet for children.

Growing bodies need protein and other nutrients to feed their growing brains and organs and immune systems, and a nutritionally BALANCED diet is best.

Maria L.
Maria L6 years ago

Veganism is supposedly unhealthy for children?! But fast food is the most healthy? It is better that children drink a coke and eat burgers?!

Mhikl Hez
Mhikl Hez6 years ago

continued - Only then can we choose the diet that best meets our needs, both nutritionally and from what ever moral standard we wish to place on plant and animal life. Truth does not come from bending the will of ideas to our own un challenged biases.

Finally, there are really only two kinds of people: the closed minded who cannot think outside their box and the open minded who can objectively stand outside their common beliefs to look for faults in their own ideas as easily as the blind-minded choose to judge others.

Note : Many of the comments for and against any one diet show the radical nature that discussions on any topics have become in our societies. We need to learn to love all sentient beings, regardless their beliefs. Of course there are those whose minds may be twisted, (Hitler) and they must be challenged and held to account, but reason must always trump our own prejudices. Care must be taken in our words and in our thoughts.

Mhikl Hez
Mhikl Hez6 years ago

Let's please keep comparisons honest and true. No rational person is going to argue that the standard American fare that includes junk food or even a pure SAD based on the food pyramid are healthy. One is just plain foolish and the other is a politically concocted monster. If vegans and vegetarians have to compare their food styles in search of validity to health, then compare them to true healthy paleo diets be they cooked based or raw or a combo or healthy moderation diets that exclude junk and sugars. That is where the real debate should lie and where all sides can learn from each other. Any foodist who has to stretch the truth about his/er own style and not question their own practices is a fool.

That goes for all, vegan to raw paleo. It is the ones who cannot challenge their own beliefs whom we should fear. It harkens back to the era of witch burning, religious and political dogma and racism. We need to find ways to good health for all citizens and if we let our political sways be our guides then we are truly lost to the truth. The careless killing of animals and our soils (yes, plants too) is abhorrent and must be changed. The sacred taking of animal life in the most humane manner must be demanded. The enrichment and proper care of our commercial and national soils must be made law. Then we can be free from fear that what we place in our mouths will harm us. Only then can we choose the diet that best meets our needs, both nutritionally and from what ever moral standa

Edna Escalona
Edna Escalona6 years ago

thanks :D

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson6 years ago


Valentina R.
Valentina R6 years ago

Veganism in not healthy for children nor pets. Deal with it.