Health benefits of a plant-based diet for children
December 19, 2023
As the world increasingly recognises the benefits of plant-based diets, schools are joining the movement, swapping chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers for veggie wraps and lentil curries. And it’s not just about saving the planet – research suggests that plant-based meals can have substantial health benefits for our children.
1. Nutritional Value
Plant-based meals are nutritionally dense, rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre that are essential for children’s growth and development. They’re also low in saturated fats and free from cholesterol, promoting heart health from a young age.
2. Fighting Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity is a growing concern worldwide. In the UK, it’s estimated that 1 in 5 children are living with obesity. Fortunately, studies have shown that children adhering to plant-based diets have lower obesity rates and BMI. By incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in school meals, we can set the foundation for healthier eating habits.
3. Promoting Heart Health
Heart diseases may seem like an adult concern, but eating habits picked up during childhood can significantly impact heart health later in life. Plant-based diets are associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart diseases in the future.
4. Boosting Academic Performance
Did you know that what your child eats can significantly impact their academic performance? Research has found a link between plant-based diets and improved cognitive function, so by ensuring our children are eating lots of fruits and veggies, we can help them to stay focussed at school.
5. Establishing Healthy Eating Habits Early
School is an excellent place to instil good eating habits. Providing wholefood plant-based meals can promote a balanced diet and foster a positive relationship with food, making it less likely for children to turn to unhealthy foods in the future.
6. Preventing Chronic Diseases
Plant-based diets can help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, and certain types of cancer. Eating habits formed in childhood often persist into adulthood, making school lunches a crucial point of intervention.
7. Variety and Taste
Last but not least, plant-based meals introduce children to a wide variety of foods and flavours, encouraging them to explore new foods. With a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes to choose from, plant-based meals provide endless flavours and textures.
In conclusion, plant-based school dinners provide numerous benefits for children’s health, from physical well-being to cognitive development. As more schools adopt more plant-based options on their menus, we look forward to seeing a healthier, brighter future for our children.