Eating Vegan with Food Allergies: A Family-friendly Guide to a Balanced Plant-based Diet
Eating a balanced diet as a vegan family with children who have food allergies can be a challenge, but it's not impossible. A vegan diet, which is free of animal products, can provide a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods that can support the health of all family members.
First and foremost, it's important to identify which foods your child is allergic to. Once you know which foods to avoid, you can then focus on incorporating a wide variety of nutrient-dense plant-based foods into your diet. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
One way to ensure that everyone in the family is getting the nutrients they need is to make sure that each meal includes a combination of different food groups. For example, a healthy dinner could include a serving of quinoa, mixed with roasted vegetables and a side of baked tofu. This would provide a balance of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.
Another way to ensure a balanced vegan diet is by including a variety of protein sources such as legumes, tofu, tempeh, and seitan. These can be a good source of protein, iron and zinc and can be used to replace meat in meals. Additionally, it's important to include a source of vitamin B12, which is found in fortified plant-based milk and yeast extract, as well as in supplements.
When it comes to snacking, it's a good idea to have a variety of options on hand, such as fruit, raw vegetables, hummus, and crackers. These can be enjoyed by everyone in the family and will help keep you from feeling deprived of your favorite foods.
It's also important to remember that meal planning can be a great way to ensure that everyone in the family is getting the nutrients they need. Planning meals in advance and making sure that you have all the ingredients on hand can make it easier to stick to a healthy and balanced diet.
In conclusion, eating a balanced vegan diet with food allergies can be challenging, but it's not impossible. By including a variety of nutrient-dense plant-based foods, including a variety of protein sources, and meal planning, you can ensure that your family is getting the nutrients they need to thrive. It's important to consult with a registered dietitian or allergist who is knowledgeable about vegan diets and food allergies to guide you through this process.
Audrey Butler, MS, RDN, LDN is a Dietitian in Chicago who helps individuals implement a nutritionally-balanced diet to feel healthy and energized. As a vegetarian nutritionist, she knows first-hand what the journey is like to implement a nutritionally-balanced diet, vegan diet, vegetarian diet, and plant-based diet located in Chicago.