What does a vegan kid eat in a day? As a mom of an almost two year-old vegan toddler, I find myself answering this question quite often. So today I’m going to share one day’s worth of my vegan daughter’s meals and snacks as an example.
Before I became a mom, I thought that planning a menu for vegan children would be very complicated. Fast forward two years into my experience of raising a little vegan, and I’m glad to report that it’s actually not a big deal.
I’ll admit that we’re lucky that my daughter baby J is an adventurous eater, and that she eats pretty much the same foods we do. Of course I try to follow some nutrition guidelines for vegan kids, but at this point it has become so second nature that I don’t even think about it when making her meals.
Below are a few rules I try to follow to ensure my vegan toddler’s menu is nutritious, varied and fun:
Things I Keep in Mind When Planning My Vegan Toddler’s Menu
– I offer a large variety of foods to my daughter, and introduce new foods regularly. I try to make sure she gets plenty of calories to maintain her growth and keep her energy levels up.
– I try to include plant-based foods that contain protein, fats, and quality carbohydrates into every meal (but don’t stress when some meals aren’t as balanced).
– I make sure to include sources of vitamin B12 (sprinkle fortified nutritional yeast on some foods, and use a B12 supplement), vitamin D3 (supplement), omega-3 fatty acids (ground flax seed, seaweed snacks), iron (blackstrap molasses, beans), etc.
– I try not to stress about feeding her only “super healthy” foods: I believe that offering treats like cookies, muffins, etc., and kid favorites like veggie nuggets and French fries from time to time forms a healthier relationship with food in the long run compared to putting those foods on a no-no list and thus giving them a status of a forbidden (but oh so desired) fruit.
What My Vegan Kid Eats in a Day
Below are the meals and snacks my vegan (almost) 2 year old had on a recent weekday.
For her meals, I usually offer 2-4 different things with the thought that if she doesn’t like one thing, she will have something else to eat. Plus, this helps provide a variety of flavors, textures, and nutrients.
The meals I’m showing below may seem like a lot of food, but obviously she doesn’t always finish everything – she’s a toddler, after all 🙂
On this day, I woke her up at around 6:40 am. At around 7 am, she sat down to eat a breakfast of steel-cut oatmeal, peanut butter, soy yogurt, and fresh blueberries.
Steel-cut oatmeal has been one of her favorite things to eat for breakfast. I make it in my Instant Pot following my Instant Pot steel cut oatmeal recipe. To add nutrition, I mix in a little bit of blackstrap molasses for iron, and ground flax seed for omega-3 fatty acids. Oftentimes I’ll add a few drops of a liquid B12 supplement.
Baby J loves peanut butter, especially when it melts under the heat of the oatmeal and can be mixed into it. Fresh blueberries are also a nice addition, but she usually prefers them on the side rather than mixed in.
Non-dairy yogurt has been a hit or miss for us. Baby J always tries it, but doesn’t always finish. On this particular day, I gave her mango-peach flavored soy yogurt by Silk.
Nutrition: Protein from soy yogurt and peanut butter; carbohydrates from oats and blueberries; fats from peanut butter and oatmeal; vitamins C and A from blueberries; vitamin B12 from a supplement; iron from blackstrap molasses and oats.
This was baby J’s daycare day – she goes there 3 half-days a week while I go to work. The daycare provides a morning snack, but the kids have to bring their own lunch.
Most of the time the snack is not vegan-friendly, but they try to accommodate baby J if needed by offering fruit, rice cakes, hummus, etc.
If I have any baked goods at home, I’ll send those in with her to have at snack time. On this day I had my healthy vegan chocolate muffins that I made in a mini-muffin pan (it yields 24 instead of 12), so I put two of those into her daycare bag.
I dropped baby J off at daycare at around 8:20 am. The morning snack time is at 8:30 am.
Lunch, 1st Attempt: Daycare
For baby J’s lunch, I packed rotini pasta with tomato sauce, chickpeas, and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (more vitamin B12); cubed polenta (one of my original vegan baby food recipes); chopped avocado; fresh blueberries for dessert.
Baby J’s daycare can microwave her food for her, so she’s OK with meals of this kind.
Nutrition: Protein from chickpeas and pasta; carbohydrates from pasta and polenta; fats from avocado; vitamins C and A from blueberries; vitamin B12 from nutritional yeast on pasta and in polenta; iron and lycopene from tomato sauce.
Lunchtime happens at around 11 am at daycare, which is quite early for baby J. Most of the time she doesn’t eat a lot, so when I pick her up at 12:30 ad bring her home, she sits down to eat some more of whatever wasn’t eaten at daycare.
Lunch, 2nd Attempt: Home
On this day, she didn’t eat much at all at lunch time, so almost all of the pasta, polenta and avocado were offered to her again when we got home.
If this wasn’t a daycare day, she would get all this for her regular lunch at 12:30 – 1 pm.
After her lunch, she always has some fresh fruit for dessert. On this day it was sliced nectarines:
After baby J wakes up from her nap, she likes to have a snack. Some of her favorite afternoon snacks include hummus and rice cakes or crackers, a slice of vegan cheese (the Follow Your Heart Creamy Original is her favorite), cookies or muffins if I have any, fresh popcorn that daddy makes every now and then, etc.
I have a post with lots of ideas for vegan snacks for kids – as baby J’s eating capabilities are becoming more sophisticated (i.e. she can chew better and doesn’t gag as much), I’m adding more of those into her ratio.
On this day, I offered her some roasted seaweed snacks, and she happily gobbled down about half of the package. I realize that not every kid is so adventurous in their eating habits, but I’ve always been a fan of seaweed and nori sheets in particular, so she must have inherited this from me.
Tip for saving $$ when buying seaweed snacks: they tend to be quite pricey at regular grocery stores when sold in individual serving-size packages, but if you go to the nearest Asian grocery store, you’ll most likely find a huge selection priced way cheaper. I buy the snacks pictured above in bundles of eight for about $3.99.
Nutrition: Seaweed is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and iodine, which can be tricky to find on a vegan diet.
On this day, I made a veggie stir-fry with tofu as a main course, and served it with brown rice. Stir-fries can be a hit or miss with baby J, but she’s always a big fan of rice.
I gave her a small amount of stir-fry to see if she would eat it at all (she didn’t eat much of it, but she picked at tofu). I also offered her some leftover curried lentil stew, which she has loved since she first started eating solids, so it’s always a nice option to fall back on.
I try to offer fresh vegetables at most meals if possible, so tonight I cut up some baby tomatoes. Baby J had helped me pick them in our garden earlier. I’m trying to establish an understanding of where our food comes from, so going to the garden together is a part of that process.
Nutrition: Protein from lentils and tofu; fat from tofu and oil in the stir-fry; carbohydrates from rice and lentils; iron, folate and magnesium from lentils; vitamins C and A from tomatoes and vegetables in the stir-fry.
After dinner, baby J usually has some more fresh fruit or berries. I didn’t take a picture of what it was on this day, so you’ll have to trust my word.
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This wraps up my description of what my vegan kid eats in a day. In my future posts, I’ll share the nutrition rules I follow when planning out my vegan toddler’s menu, and offer more ideas for kid-friendly vegan meals that she loves.
Question for you: If you have vegan kids, what are their favorite meals and/or snacks? Please share below!
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