Duluth Parents Share Raising Children on Vegan Diet

By definition vegan is a person who doesn't eat meat or use animal products.

DULUTH, Minn.- You’ve heard it before, nutritionists recommending we include more plant based foods in our diets. For some that challenge can be difficult, to put down the fast food or burger, but for one Duluth family going vegan is the way of life.

By definition vegan is a person who doesn’t eat meat or use animal products. For the Naus family, they’re definition is all about a commitment to a plant–based life style.

“A couple days ago a person in my class commented, ‘you know you had that vegan phase in third grade?’ and I was like no it’s not a vegan phase it’s just my lifestyle,” daughter Carlee Naus said.

Jim and Dianne Naus of Duluth are raising their two daughters on a plant based diet.

“So we really try very hard to give them the reasoning, some of the scene, and some of the research that’s behind some of this,” Dianne said. “It’s not so much a belief as much as much as it is supported by a fair amount of research.”

You won’t find dairy products or meat in their kitchen, but when the girls go out to eat or to a friend’s house, Jim and Dianne allow them to eat whatever they want.

“It’s the same concept with the dairy and the eggs,” Dianne said. “This is what this sugar is going to do to your body, this is what this dairy is going to do to your body.”’

“It’s not very hard, it’s natural for me,” Ailee Naus said. “It’s not anything different I’m just so use to it.”

The sisters appreciate their parents allowing them to try foods. Although they sometimes will add cheese to a sandwich, they have many favorite plant based dishes

“Just Mayo, which is dairy free mayo, and this tofurky meat, and that’s my favorite substitute for real meat,” Carlee said.

Cooking plant based meals together is a way of bonding.

“Every Tuesday we have taco Tuesday, I make the guacamole,” Ailee said.

The couple decided to eat a plant based diet due to health reasons but also believes in not harming animals. Since changing their diet, they’ve noticed positive changes in their skin and congestion.

“I think food should be enjoyed and shared and I’d like to think that I’m doing my body good and not hurting it,” Jim Naus said. “That’s what really lead us on the journey of trying to figure out what nutrition is all about.”

The family says meat and cheese supplements have become more available in grocery stores in recent years, and tastier.

Experts say statistically it’s hard to determine how many people eat a plant based diet, but generally people are trying to incorporate more plants in their meals.

“A strict vegan diet can be balanced as well you just need to do planning,” St. Luke’s clinical dietitian Karen Johnson said.

Dietitians say typically adolescents experiment with their dietary options. If your child wishes to become vegan or vegetarian, it’s important to ask them why.

“There’s often a reason that is different than dietician for a person to choose a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle,” Johnson said. “There might be some ethical issues they’re concerned about, political issues they’re concerned about.”

To be more involved experts recommend doing research with your child to make it a healthy transition.

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