There aren’t many topics that cause more divergence of opinion than children and what you should feed them. I’m vegan myself as much as possible and whilst the kids are not (and I can’t see that happening any time soon as my husband is not), naturally I’m interested in introducing vegan elements to their diet if at all possible. The obvious starting point is milk…
Both Sonny (2 in June) and Jack (4 in April) drink milk at the end of the day. Last year I did a shout out to the Instagram community about dairy free milk options taking into consideration nutrients, taste, sugar levels so I’m here to share back with you all the wisdom kindly imparted.
Here’s your options (according to you):
Most/all plant milks designed for drinking have less fat than whole milk, so make sure plenty of fats are coming in from other foods.
- Plenish almond milk – contains literally just almonds, filtered water and a dash of sea salt.
- Hemp milk – nutritionally, hemp milk is a winner and stacks up super well although note: it’s not as calorie dense as other plant milk. It’s also rich in omega 3 and 6 and contains all 10 amino acids as well as protein and calcium.
- Oatly milk seems a very popular option – in particular, Oatly Barista contains a lot of calcium and more fat than the regular Oatly (the blue is the equivalent of semi skimmed for when they get older). In fact, like for like, full fat cows milk and Oatly barista provide the same amount of calcium (and has less sugar). Also, Oatly chocolate oat drink is apparently to die for !
- Some of you had seen specialists on this topic; allergy specialist Dr Helen Cox specified soya as an alternative from 12 months old and then Oatly or Koko (also received a lot of votes from you) from 14 months. In fact, professionals on the whole seem to recommend soya
- Alpro soy toddler also got the thumbs up from you lot although beware, as the sugar levels are high – though it has pretty comparable calcium and protein content to milk, and is a very popular drink for children in Asia (random fact!)
- The enriched part is important to look for in plant milks if you want high calcium level
- Make your own! This is really not as hard as it sounds. To make hemp milk, for example, use raw living organic shelled hemp seeds, soak overnight, drain and rinse the nuts well, then blend with 4 cups water for 1 minute and strain through a nut milk bag or muslin and squeeze until there is no more liquid and that’s it! Save the left over pulp and freeze to use an amazing granola/ smoothie ingredient. Use ratios roughly 1 cup (approx 150g) / part nuts / seeds (organic are best as otherwise the milk separates and tastes baaaad in tea / coffee) / to 4 cups water. With cashews, you don’t need to strain, just soak for a day. And with oats, there’s no need to soak, just drain through a mesh sieve. Here’s my super simple recipe.
Other bits of advice:
- Cows milk contains a lot sugar! I personally hadn’t even thought of that element…
- Variety is the spice of life so consider simply mixing it up!
- Many of you were exclusively breastfeeding and milk simply wasn’t part of your kids’ diet.
- There’s no beating about the bush: dairy free milks can be pricey so do look out for offers.
- Consider goats milk
- Check out this guide for vegan kids under 5
I hope you found this mini guide helpful and perhaps a starting point for your own research regarding what might work for you and your little ones and any more opinions / options in the comment below.
Thanks for reading,
I’d love to hear