I began my mostly plant-based journey before any little munchkins were running my household. I always knew that I wanted this journey of finding plant-based alternatives to the food and drink we have been told we need in our lives, to be shared. Whether that be shared with my kids, John, clients, and friends, I just knew that it was a subject where such little information and knowledge was easily accessible. And by sharing – I should also note that my Type A personality had to make sure I had a good handle on it first 😛
If you’ve been on a post of mine before, you know that we are living a predominantly plant-based lifestyle here. It is also important to note that it’s certainly not 100% and I don’t cut any food out of my diet completely besides milk, beef and pork because it truly just does not appeal to me. But do I eat cheese? Yes. Do I try first to make an alternative for it? Yes!
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “what about the kids” and truthfully they are not AS into the plant-based eating as we are, and that’s okay. They can make their own decision! But one thing I did put a lock on was cow’s milk, simply because it seemed unnecessary to me and my pediatrician was always on board.
So let’s talk MILK!
It’s always been instilled in our minds that we NEED dairy products in order to maintain proper levels of calcium in our bodies. Sure, dairy is a great source of calcium, but so are many other foods and drinks. There’s also some arguments against milk in this capacity, and how it is potentially not the most bioavailable source of calcium. (I really recommend reading The China Study if you have time!)
Calcium lives in so many of the foods we include in our everyday life! If you’re looking for ways to add calcium to you or your little ones diet, while staying plant-based or even just trying to change things up, try some of these:
Tofu (breaded tofu nuggets are the way to go here)
Sesame seems (top your dishes with these!) or tahini
Chia seeds (these can be added to so many things – smoothies, oats, baked goods)
Since “strong bones” is typically the argument many make for calcium intensive foods, I want to mention that there are a few other nutrients that contribute to the development of our bones including vitamin D, vitamin K, and phosphorus.
Once you are able to learn and see that cow’s milk is certainly not the only way that your little ones can get the nutrients they need, so many doors open up. I have been a huge fan of unsweetened soy and pea milk for our family. We really appreciate the fact that these plant-based milks are very dense in nutrients and also have some of the most protein per serving. The amount of vitamin D in soy and pea milks is also much higher than other plant-based milks, another reason it is one of our go-tos. Most of the time, these milks are fortified with the ingredients you need (just check the label to make sure!)
Just to be clear – I explained to my pediatrician my plan for making sure the kids had calcium, vitamin D, etc and that was the reason she was okay with me dropping the cow milk! She understood that there were other ways to get the nutrients, but not every doctor will be so open to this.
I also want to mention to look for milks that aren’t sweetened, so you aren’t sending a big sugar load along with the nutrients (though you might need to add a little of sweetened milk to a bigger bottle of unsweetened, just to make them like it at first!). My kids never had a taste issue with pea and soy milk – always enjoyed it!
I really wanted to share a look into my brain when people ask me “why no cow’s milk for your kids”, and I can’t wait to hear your feedback. I’d love to chat with anyone further about transitioning you or your family to a more plant-based lifestyle! Send me an email or leave your questions in the comments!