What Birdy Eats In a Day as a Vegan Toddler
I never would have anticipated that one of the most asked questions that we get when someone learns that we’re vegan is a glance at Birdy, a slight pause, and then “....is the baby vegan too? What does she eat?”. I’m not sure what the dissociation between an adult vegan and a child vegan is, but it’s always struck me as interesting whenever we get asked this. I always try and be quick to respond, sharing that it’s actually pretty easy to feed her, and that most of the time she just eats whatever we’re eating; which I would assume would be similar to any non-vegan families and children.
Like every child, Birdy goes through phases of eating really well and also periods of time where it feels like she’s hardly eating at all. Children’s eating habits and patterns (or lack there of) are one of the many unpredictable and inconsistent realities that come along with being a parent. But regardless of how Birdy’s eating, ever since she’s started eating solid food at 5 months, she’s been consistently healthy, growing, happy, and honestly thriving in all areas of her life; and yup, she’s been vegan since the get go. We became vegan as a family when Birdy was around a month old, which at the time she would have only been having breastmilk.
Birdy will be two years old in March, and she is a thriving little human being. Since the age of 16 months, she’s been communicating in full 5-6 word sentences, could recite her ABC’s, count to 10, sing the days of the week and uphold a full conversation by the age of 20 months. Ever since eating solids, she’s maintained a great growth curve, has had wonderful doctor check ups, and we’ve been encouraged to “keep doing whatever we’re doing” because whatever it is has been really working wonderfully for her.
There’s so much information and conversation that I could have within this post, but I think I’ll start by sharing a few of the thoughts that we had when we first went into feeding Birdy solid foods, and then from there expand into what she eats on a good day, as well as a few meal examples and ideas.
Our mindset when we talked about introducing Birdy to solids was:
If it’s not something that we would feed ourselves, we weren’t going to feed it to her
We always wanted to incorporate seasonings and flavour into whatever she ate; nothing bland or boring (again, if I don’t like the sounds of it, why should we expect her to?)
Obviously she would be eating vegan as well
Making sure that we equipped ourselves with enough knowledge about being vegan ourselves so that we could explain and educate our choices whenever they came into question
Now that Birdy is nearing two years old, here is what a typical day/routine looks like for her:
6:30 am - 7:15 am — this is usually the timeframe in which Birdy gets up in the morning; she almost always asks for food in the first few moments that she wakes up, so after getting ourselves up, we all head downstairs for her “first breakfast” haha.
7:15 am — she’ll have either some “dinosaur oatmeal”, a pouch, or “cheese toast” (which is whole grain toast with vegan butter and nutritional yeast - if you’ve never eaten this before, you’re welcome) first thing when she gets up, then she’ll be good to go for a while.
She helps Mark make coffee at this point, plays with her toys, read books, plays with playdoh, or do whatever else she feels like doing.
9:00 am — she’ll eat her second breakfast, which will consist of whichever of the earlier options she didn’t choose that day and more often than not, a little bit of our breakfast too.
11:00 am — this is when we’ll start feeding her her lunch (an hour before her nap time, because we all know how long it takes toddlers to eat haha). She usually asks to help me, or to sit on the counter so that she can see what I’m doing (which I think her helping to prepare her own lunch also contributes to her wanting to eat her meal), so she’ll help me and then I’ll feed her once it’s ready.
2:30/3:00 pm — once up from her nap, she’ll have a snack, or multiple snacks over the next little period of time
5:00 pm — dinner is usually happening or at least starting to happen around 5:00 every night, and here she’ll almost always have whatever it is that we’re having
7:00 pm — bedtime snack happens around/a little before now and then it’ll be bedtime for her
Now onto a handful of options for her snacks and her/our meals; I want to share a list of really practical ideas that are accessible to everyone with any/all cooking skill levels since I know that we don’t all have access to a whole bunch of vegan substitutions etc. I also wanted to make mention that “being vegan” can come in many forms and that of course there are super unhealthy ways to be vegan, just as there are healthy and unhealthy ways to follow any other form of eating habits.
Being vegan doesn’t mean just swapping out your traditional meat-based meal ideas for vegan alternatives (although that is a fun way to do things every now and again), but rather following a whole-foods practice, which relies on real foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and any other goodness that comes from the earth.
Snack ideas or smaller meal/lunch thoughts:
Nut butter filled cliff bars
Apples (she just holds and eats the full thing)
Cut up grapes, strawberries, kiwi, melon
Cubed potatoes (we make these for her in our actifry, which is super easy to do and they come out tasting delicious)
Peanut butter and jam sandwiches
Cheese and crackers
French fries (her favourite haha)
Green smoothies (or any smoothie for that matter)
Edamame and rice
Smoked tofu cubes with rice or quinoa
Quinoa in a simple peanut soy sauce
Carrots, peas, and corn warmed up with a little vegan butter and nutritional yeast
Flatbread vegetable pizzas
breakfast/brunch scrambles -- I’ll cook regular and sweet potatoes in a skillet, add in medium firm tofu, peppers, chopped spinach, and sausage if I have it, some seasonings (salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic, turmeric, onion powder, nutritional yeast), and cashew cream
Grilled cheese or quesadillas
Pancakes or waffles
Oatmeal with yogurt, peanut butter, and fruit compote
On top of all of those little suggestions, there’s a whole plethora of meals or parts of meals that Mark and I eat regularly that Birdy joins in on as well. If you need some resources on great vegan meal ideas, head on over to Minimalist Baker, find and follow @ErinIreland and @EasyAnimalFree on Instagram, or pick up these cookbooks: Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking, America’s Test Kitchen: Vegan for Everybody, and/or Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics.
I hope that this post helps to shed some light on what Birdy eats in a day, as well as inspires some super simple vegan meal ideas for yourselves as well as your littles. If you have any specific food questions, I’d love to answer those for you down below.
As one final note in case you’re curious, Birdy does drink primarily water, as well as is offered milk with her meals; she’s always consumed an array of nut/soy based milks, but our go-to for her is usually almond or soy.
If you’ve been misinformed in the past about soy or if you’ve never done your own research on it before, I’d suggest giving this post a quick read. Everyone has varying opinions on soy, so it’s about finding information that works for you and doing whatever you feel best. We adore soy around here and eat it regularly.
This is another wonderful post about raising vegan children