“You’re vegan? How aren’t you dead?€ It is a question that Elizabeth Tighe’s 12-year-old son is asked more regularly than she’d like. But as a vegan raising her children to check out a plant-based lifestyle, it’s not just one that particularly suprises her.

Previously decade, veganism moved from a distinct segment subculture to a lifestyle advocated by celebrities including Beyonce and Jay-Z. In the decade following 2006, there clearly was a 350 per cent spike in people going vegan in the UK. And Tighe, a 32-year-old artist and mother of four from Herefordshire who runs the vegan website ForkingFit is among them. She, like other devotees, sees in this way of living as kinder to both animals and the environment.And scientific evidence backs up their claims a plant-based diet is inarguably healthier for the common person.

Still, vegans aren’t a really liked bunch in certain circles. They’re viewed as preachy, pushy and self-righteous. Although, vegans might argue that’s just incorrect, and if meat-eaters feel this way oahu is the fault of our guilty consciences. And vegan parents specifically are scorned. A year ago, an Italian politician required a law to be introduced to prosecute vegan parents who impose their €œreckless and dangerous eating behaviour€ on the children. Parents found to be feeding their children, er, only plants, should really be handed a six-year prison sentence, according to Italian politician Elvira Savino.

However many vegan parents admit they too weren’t huge fans of vegans, until they really went plast-based themselves and realised vegans aren’t really fussed by what others are eating.

€œIn all honesty I usually thought vegans were loud and in see your face, wanting to shovel their views into you €“ quicker than the usual tofu sandwich,€ says Tighe. €œYes some are, but overall I’ve met so many peaceful those who have changed to veganism for a variety of reasons.€

Janet Kearney, a 36-year-old from Ireland who runs the Vegan Pregnancy and Parenting Facebook group and lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband and their children Oliver, four, and Amelia, 19 months, like Savino thought that raising children to be vegan was cruel and wrong. Which was until she watched Earthlings, a documentary called €œthe veganiser&rdquo ;

€œWhen I was pregnant, a buddy stopped eating all animal products,€ she tells The Independent.€œI believed she was insane, and was likely to result in a hospital from this kind of restrictive diet.

€œI could have been the first to question a vegan person’s power to parent properly, but I genuinely believe that has a great deal to do with the misinformation out there. We don’t hear in regards to the tens of thousands of parents who’re raising vegan kids, only those who abuse their children or starve them. So it’s obviously going to have people alarmed when this is the only connection they’ve to vegan kids.

€œView it in this manner,€ she goes on. €œWe as parents want the absolute best for our youngsters, we would like them to be happy, and primarily, as healthy as they are able to be. The vegan parents that I understand spend a lot of time ensuring that their students are eating healthy, exactly like parents who feed their children meat and eggs. We find killing animals to be cruel, and wrong. This is exactly why we don’t do it.€

€œThe greatest misconception is that vegan parents are hippies, who desire everyone to reside on dry toast and walnuts,€ says Kearney. €œIt couldn’t be further from the truth. Most vegan parents are shouting at their kids to obtain off the rear of the couch and stop hitting their siblings. They’re going to work, come home and make dinner.€

Dishes by vegan YouTubers hot for food – In pictures

But is a vegan diet safe for growing children? Earlier this month, Professor Mary Fewtrell, the chairman of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition warned parents that getting a vegan diet wrong can cause €œirreversible cognitive damage and, in the extreme, death€. €œOur advice is that if parents pursue a vegan diet for their child, they must seek and strictly follow medical and dietary advice,€ she added.

However, dieticians agree that a vegan upbringing can be healthy if, like with any diet, the correct nutrients are eaten.

In comparison to adults children require higher degrees of nutrients and vitamins, including A, C, and D, and as milk and other dairy food are a significant source of calcium, vegan parents should be cautious to offer their children foods fortified with the mineral. Plant-based resources of riboflavin, present in fish and meat, and iodine, present in dairy and meat, also needs to be eaten, along with vitamin B12 supplements.

€œA vegan diet needs consideration and planning to make sure a wide selection of nutrients and energy are consumed as some essential nutrients are primarily present in animal products,€ says Susan Short, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association (BDA), tells The Independent.

Clare Thornton-Wood, BDA spokesperson and specialist paediatric dietitian at Healthcare On Demand, adds that breast milk might help parents nourish young children. You can find no vegan infant formulas in the marketplace, as Vitamin D comes from sheep’s wool and soya isn’t recommended for babies under six months.

Jenny Liddle, a 43-year-old residing in Somerset €“ where she runs a PR agency €“ has been a vegan for 18 years and has been vegetarian since birth. She ate a plate-based diet when she was pregnant. She says having an individual growing within her made her think much more carefully by what she puts in her body. Toher surprise, she found her calcium levels were more than the average indivdual when she was pregnant because she ate calcium-fortified plant milks and a wide variety of foods.

However, Liddle says she accepts that €œwe’re never planning to manage to achieve a 100 per cent vegan lifestyle. That doesn’t exist yet.€ Her children’s health, as opposed to any ideology, is obviously her priority.

€œIf I hadn’t had the oppertunity to breastfeed I really could have secured a vegan supply of pumped donor breast milk. And if this hadn’t been possible then I really could used a formula,€ Liddle says. €œPersonally i think that it’s essential to proceed with this particular, although current formulas contain vitamin D3 from sheep. If you were to think of formula as a food for a medical purpose, you are able to appreciate that it’s essential for the survival of the child as a result of breast milk being unavailable.

“Sometimes there’s no practical or possible alternative. But Personally i think taking vital medicine doesn’t mean I’m no more vegan or my child is no more vegan €“ and The Vegan Society recognise that,€ she adds.

Tighe, Liddle, and Kearney all stress that being vegan is something they do not force on the children, while they do actively educate them about why eating animal products may be harmful to their health and the environment.

€œMy children would not even consider the indisputable fact that our pet ducks, chickens or cat being are €˜food ‘. It’d upset them,€ says Kearney. €œThey’re their finest friends, in very similar way people would not look at their pet dog and consider a Sunday dinner.

€œWe have a very gentle way of explaining veganism to your children. I don’t want for them frightened or worse, thinking their friends or family are horrible people simply because they still eat animals. It is a fine line to walk.€

€œI recently support my children and their choices,€ chimes Tighe. €œI ensure they think comfortable to alter their minds about vegansim when they wish. They’re all quite passionate about veganism now. I’m unsure what’s more poignant than the usual four year old asking you: €˜Why could you love one animal but kill another?’ €