Plant-based diets can help combat childhood obesity, according to The Vegan Society. The experts at the BDA – the Association of UK Dietitians – agree that well-planned vegan diets can support healthy living throughout childhood, from weaning to teenage years. This is timely advice since it was confirmed that global teen obesity rates are still rising.
Jasmijn de Boo, The Vegan Society CEO, said a well-planned vegan diet would be “an excellent start to life for children”.
“What better way to tackle the obesity crisis in the UK than by setting healthy eating habits for our children at an early age? With the planet our children will inherit in peril due to the greenhouse gas emissions from farming animals, plant-based diets for children are more crucial than ever,” said Ms de Boo.
Studies have shown that on average, vegans have a healthier weight than health-minded meat-eaters. According to studies in the UK and the US, vegan obesity rates are under two per cent compared to over five per cent in health-conscious meat-eaters.
Obesity has been found to significantly increase the risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
A study carried out by carried out by the Cancer Research UK Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford found that vegans have the lowest body mass index (BMI) of any group, ranging between 22 and 23.5.
This compares to BMI of 23.5 to 29 for health-conscious meat-eaters. Meat and dairy and other animal products tend to be more energy-dense than fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes. These staples of a plant-based diet are rich in nutrients UK children currently lack, such as vitamin C, good Omega 6 fats and fibre. There is no dietary fibre in animal products.
The UK Government has also drawn attention again to the major greenhouse gas emissions due to farming cattle, sheep and other animals. The planet is currently on track for dangerous global temperature rises, with the risks of extreme floods and droughts, harvest failures and habitat loss which accompany it.
According to the Vegan Society, vegan children tend to form excellent eating habits, and make better food choices through to adulthood. We all teach the children in our care not to harm animals unnecessarily, so it makes sense to put this compassion into practice at the dinner table.
Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
From ‘junk food vegans’ to raw food vegans, and everything in between, there’s a version of veganism to suit everyone, according to the Vegan Society. Yet one thing they all have in common is a plant-based diet avoiding all animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs and honey – as well as products like leather and any tested on animals.
The Vegan Society is a registered educational charity that provides information and guidance on various aspects of veganism, including to new and potential vegans, caterers, healthcare professionals, and educators. Visit www.vegansociety.com for more information.