Your kids are at school for about half their day, so it’s really important that you send them with a lunchbox that’s full of all the nutrition that they need to power them through the day. But with so much conflicting information out there about vegan kids’ nutrition, it can be really hard to know exactly what to pack. In this post I’m going to step you through the nutrients your kids need to thrive on their vegan diet, and the best types of food to pack in their school lunchbox to make sure they’re getting all of them.
Is A Vegan Diet Healthy for Kids?
As a vegan nutritionist, I believe you’re setting your kids up for the best nutritional start in life by raising them on a vegan diet. But while a vegan diet is packed full of many essential nutrients such as fibre, magnesium and vitamin C, there are a number of essential nutrients that are harder to get from a vegan diet. The first of these is energy, or calories, which is so important that I did a whole separate post on how to make sure your kids are getting enough energy in their school lunchbox. Once you have energy covered, the other important nutrients that your kids need to thrive at school are iron, zinc and calcium. Take a look below for my tips on how to make sure their lunchboxes are packed full of each of these nutrients.
How to Make Sure Your Kids are Getting Enough Iron in their Lunchbox
Let’s start with iron. Iron is essential for transporting oxygen around the body, which gives us our energy. I’m sure you’ll agree that making sure our kids have enough energy for school is super important. One of the best ways to pack your child’s lunchbox full of iron is to switch to wholegrains. Simply switch from white to wholemeal or wholegrain breads, and use wholemeal or wholewheat flour in your baking. Pumpkin seeds and chia seeds are also a huge iron boost, and I always include one or both of them in my school snack recipes. Cashews are also very high in iron, but unfortunately aren’t always an option for school lunchboxes given many schools’ nut free policies.
How to Make Sure Your Kids Are Getting Enough Zinc in their Lunchbox
Zinc isn’t talked about anywhere near as much as iron for vegan kids, but it can actually be harder to get enough of from a vegan diet, and is just as important. Zinc is essential for growth and development, to help kids focus at school, and for a healthy immune system – very important for our school kids! The best sources of zinc are seeds and legumes (my favourite, pumpkin seeds, are a great zinc boost!). So make sure you’re including plenty of legumes and seeds in your kids’ lunchboxes.
How to Make Sure Your Kids are Getting Enough Calcium in their Lunchbox
The final nutrient that can be harder to get get from a vegan diet is calcium. While kids most definitely don’t need dairy milk, they still need calcium for strong healthy bones. Fortified soy milk and greens like bok choy, kale and broccoli are the highest calcium containing vegan foods, but they’re not always that great for school lunches. Tofu and chia seeds can be a great way to boost their lunchbox with extra calcium.
With some small tweaks, you can make sure your kids’ lunchboxes are packed full of the essential nutrients they need to power through the school day.
Make sure you check out part 1 here, where I talk about the most important nutrient for healthy lunchboxes – energy.
Need More Vegan Lunchbox Recipes?
If you need more nut free lunchbox recipes that are packed full of iron, zinc and calcium, then grab my free ebook below!