The Milk Trap: Do Children Really Need It?

'Raise Vegan' magazine explains why doctors insist on it - and what to replace it with
Children and dairy
Evidence shows milk may do more harm than good

'Got milk?' 'It does a body good.'

We've heard the slogans, and sometimes even followed the advice.

Yet, research has shown that not only is cow's milk not needed, but it can be harmful to human health.


One study, with over 20,000 participants, found a number of downsides to milk consumption.

Participants who consumed milk had higher rates of heart disease, cancer, and even death - while The American Heart Association and the World Heart Association point to saturated fat, abundant in dairy products, as a major contributor to heart disease and stroke.

Additionally, a 2013 study published in JAMA Pediatrics explicitly states that 'humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk'.


Despite all this, US dietary guidelines specifically recommend the consumption of dairy.

Similarly, NHS guidelines indicate that children should drink a minimum of 350ml of milk daily, while touting its supposed health benefits.

The main reasons cited for these advisories are the fat, protein, and vitamins present in dairy.

Milk has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and increased risk of bone fracture


Children are notoriously picky with food, and while parents can give them a multivitamin to fill in many dietary gaps, ensuring they consume enough healthy fat can be more challenging.

In this respect, dairy is framed as a cheap and quick solution - whether it's harmful to children's health or not.

Luckily, there are a number of healthful, dairy-free ingredients that are rich in the same nutrients milk is often praised for. 


Plant foods rich in calcium include whole grains, blackstrap molasses, figs, nuts, seeds, tofu, sea vegetables, fortified plant milk, kale, broccoli, and collard greens.

Healthy Plant Fats
Avocados are a good source of healthy fats

Healthy fats

Healthy fats can be found in nuts and seeds, avocado, olives, and - according to some sources - plant-based oils.


Children under the age of two should not be on a low-fat diet, as fat is instrumental to their health and development.

The recommended caloric intake for toddlers provided by the US Dietary Guidelines are between 1000 and 1400 each day, with around 30 to 35 percent of that accounted for by fats.

Active Children
Caloric needs will vary based on age and activity level

Age Four & Older

The fat macronutrient distribution range decreases as children get older, to 25 percent to 35 percent of their overall calories.

However, their calories should increase to compensate for growing bodies and changing activity levels.

Children aged four to eight need 1200 to 2000 calories, and those aged nine to thirteen need between 1600 and 2600 calories, while teens can require from 2000 to 3200 calories daily.

Raise Vegan provides extensive information on the dietary needs of toddlers – most of which ca be easily accommodated on a whole-foods plant-based diet.

For more information about childhood nutrition for vegans, you can subscribe to Raise Vegan magazine - available in both six month and yearly subscriptions.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself. 

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Raise Vegan is the only vegan parenting magazine currently in print - and the key to the largest vegan parenting community worldwide. You can subscribe to the magazine at, and follow @raisevegan on Instagram to stay up to date with the latest in vegan parenting.

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