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Alicia Silverstone has long shed her Clueless image to espouse a lifestyle that does not allow fish or dairy to touch her lips. So it comes as little surprise that the author of The Kind Diet, a vegan cookbook and accompanying blog The Kind Life, has announced that her two-month-old son, Bear Blu, will also have a pure vegan diet.
"Bear was grown on vegan food and we'll continue nourishing him with a healthy diet," she told the British edition of OK! magazine, according to musicrooms.net. "He'll be eating an organic plant-based diet. I intend to take great care of his precious new baby body so I'm committed to giving him nothing but the purest and most healthy food possible. We want to keep his immune system strong so that he'll be super healthy -- which is just one of the many reasons he'll eat vegan."
While we admire Silverstone for sticking to her principles, we can’t help but wonder: is raising your baby vegan, well, clueless? In April, vegan parents in France were convicted of “neglect or food deprivation” and sentenced to five years in jail after their baby died from being fed only breast milk for her 11 months of life. And there are other stories of well-meaning yet misguided vegan parents doing unintentional harm to their children.
Yet while it’s tempting to write-off a vegan lifestyle as too extreme for an infant, Lara Zibners, M.D., a pediatrician and author of If Your Kid Eats This Book, Everything Will Still Be OK says it is possible to raise a vegan child healthfully. "There are many children raised on a strict vegetarian or even vegan diet who don't suffer from growth or nutritional deficiencies."
Zibners stresses that vegan-minded parents need to be vigilant about making sure their babies get all the nutritional requirements they need to stay strong. "Infants and young children require a variety of nutrients and minerals for their growth and development, much more so than older children and adults simply because their brain and bodies are growing at such a fast rate. Special importance should be given to vitamin D, calcium and iron. In addition, infants require a relatively high-fat diet until about the age of two which is important for brain development." She recommends that parents work with their pediatrician or a nutritionist to be sure that all of their baby's dietary needs are being met.
Although I would be way too scared to attempt a vegan diet for my son (not to mention our family’s love of short ribs and brie cheese), I tend to think that if anyone could raise their baby healthfully as a vegan, it would be Silverstone. The actress and advocate radiates passion for the vegan lifestyle almost as much as she radiates passion for her son, and has the knowledge and resources to do it right. So we wish her a lot of luck -- and hope Bear doesn’t mind missing out on a good steak.