Children Don’t Need Meat or Dairy Say Major Health Bodies | Viva! - The Vegan Charity
Viva! Health: Children Don’t Need Meat or Dairy Say Major Health Bodies

The British Nutrition Foundation has released a new health advice leaflet for infants stating veganism can be healthy with the right supplements and endorsing conflicting advice.

The leaflet says “well-planned vegetarian and vegan diets can be healthy for young children [but] if you are considering a vegan diet for your child then it is a good idea to visit your GP to ask for advice about supplementation as it can be difficult for young children to get enough vitamin A and B12, riboflavin, iron, zinc, calcium and iodine.”

Advice conflicts with other major health bodies

The leaflet also gives conflicting advice against other major health bodies, saying children should eat three portions of dairy per day and promotes animal protein sources above high protein plant-based foods.

Dr Justine Butler, Viva! Health’s Senior Researcher said: “It’s so tiresome how Viva! Health need to keep reiterating that all the major health bodies agree – a well-balanced vegan diet can provide all the nutrients needed for all stages of life – including children.

The British Nutrition Foundation’s (BNF) new leaflet offering dietary advice for pre-schoolers looks like it was written 30 years ago – it’s packed with outdated advice. Unbelievably, it says to try and limit processed meat – the World Cancer Research Fund advises avoiding all processed meat (sausages and bacon) as it causes cancer. Were the BNF looking the other way in 2015 when the World Health Organisation said processed meat was a cause of cancer? Don’t feed it to children – it causes cancer!

BNF's guidance is ill-informed

The protein suggestions from the top down begin with sausages (processed meat), beef, turkey, burger, prawns, fish fingers and so on...  but nuts, lentils, chickpeas and baked beans (all great sources of healthy protein) are put right at the bottom of the list.

It’s good to see they stick with the 5-a-Day recommendation for fruit and veg, but then we get to dairy, where they say children need three portions a day with no mention of dairy alternatives. The BNF would do better to take a leaf out of Public Health England’s advice, who in their updated Eatwell guide include dairy alternatives (like soya milk and yoghurt) in their recommendations.

Given the fact that a quarter of Brits now use plant-based milks, the BNF’s insistence on including dairy foods in their guidance is ill-informed. Add to that the harmful environmental effects of animal foods and how scientists are advising moving towards a plant-based way of eating, this industry-funded body’s advice is outdated and the BNF needs to rethink their position.

The obesity epidemic is affecting children as well as adults with one in five children now classified as obese – this increases their risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. In fact, this generation of children may be the first to not outlive their parents – a shameful legacy. The BNF should not be recommending sausages and cheese to children.

To find out more about healthy vegan children see the Incredible Vegan Health report.”


About Viva! Health 

Viva! Health provides a major resource on vegan health and nutrition for health professionals and the public. We monitor the scientific research linking diet to health and provide accurate information on which you can make informed choices about the food you eat.

Share on FacebookShare on Twitter

Everything You Need to Know About the Newest Vegan Beauty Brand

Everything You Need to Know About the Newest Vegan Beauty Brand

Louisa Kendal |10/12/2019
Here’s everything you need to know about the newest vegan beauty brand on the block...
Supermarket Alternatives to Turkey Taste Test

Supermarket Alternatives to Turkey Taste Test

Guest Blogger |06/12/2019
With Christmas just around the corner, we tried five supermarket vegan offerings so you can have a fool-proof turkey-free Christmas.
Giving Tuesday - Thank You!

Giving Tuesday - Thank You!

Conor Haines |04/12/2019
We’d just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated yesterday as part of #GivingTuesday (and to all our kind donors for that matter)...
Help Us Fundraise For Animals This #GivingTuesday

Help Us Fundraise For Animals This #GivingTuesday

Conor Haines |02/12/2019
#GivingTuesday is upon us! If you are interested in making a difference for animals and the planet, we’d love for you to get involved by setting up a Facebook fundraiser on behalf of Viva! to help us continue campaigning for a kinder world!...
December 2019: Viva! Vegan Podcast
We wish you a compassionate Christmas! In this extra special episode, we have a worldwide exclusive! Introducing the fantastic, positively vegan Christmas song, Peace on Your Plate . Produced by Gavin Chappell-Bates and Giles Bryant, Peace on Your Plate could become the first ever vegan Christmas...
Top 5 Vegan Mince Pies

Top 5 Vegan Mince Pies

Louisa Kendal |29/11/2019
Which high street vegan mice pie reigns superior?
Viva!Life Issue 72 | Winter 2019

Viva!Life Issue 72 | Winter 2019

The winter issue of Viva! Life is out now! This issue features an interview with Gabrielle Aplin, a vegan singer with heart, and George Monbiot, the environmental columnist. We celebrate our 25th Anniversary Awards and recap our latest campaigns, including the Hogwood victory, our headline environment campaign Vegan Now, and our vegan milkshake tour Viva!shake.

Read more