Alternative Diets for Children

Goals

In order to preapre for a marketing pitch, provide any trends relating to feeding a plant-based and/or dairy-free diet to babies and toddlers, specifically focusing on pressures parent's face.

Early Findings

There is a marked increase in the popularity of vegan, gluten free, or dairy free diets for children. Parents feel pressured from experts to feed their children mainstream diets, as they are warned that their children could be malnourished on an alternative diet, like vegetarianism or going dairy-free.

Warnings from Experts

  • Some experts caution against feeding children dairy-free or gluten-free diets, without medical reason (like an allergy), because it could "lead to nutritional deficiencies in children and set up unhealthy relationships with food."
  • Studies have found that providing milk, either dairy or non-dairy, can be harmful to children under age one. They recommend only formula or breast-milk for very young children. Additionally, there are studies showing that nondairy milk may stunt growth.
  • One parent, who chose to raise their child as a vegan, said "there's a lot of scaremongering about it, and we're always told that vegans need to be especially careful, but I find that vegans are actually more clued up about nutrition than most."
  • Some experts are also concerned less about the potential for malnourishment then about the fact that "the fashion for so-called clean eating - restricting or eliminating foods such as gluten and dairy - is being applied by parents to children." The children have no voice in this choice.

Supplements and Fortified Foods

  • Many experts recommend that if parents do choose to raise their children on non-traditional diets, they recommend giving children fortified foods and supplements.
  • Many parents seemed to agree with this advice, and state that they did provide these things to their children in order to ensure they were properly nourished even on an alternative diet.

Allergies

  • The increase in popularity of dairy-free or restricted diets "seems related to heightened concerns about allergy among the middle classes." Parents believe, without clinical diagnosis, that their children have food allergies.
  • The belief that their child has an allergy is especially associated with dairy allergies and parents removing all dairy products from their child's diet.

Being Prepared

  • One trend noticed amoung parents raising children to be vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or dairy-free was to always be prepared with snacks that their children can eat.
  • This was mostly to prevent the feeling of being "left out" or not being like other children.

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