VegFest UK Brighton
Recently I’ve been asked by quite a few parents for recipes, tips and advice for feeding children who have chosen to become vegetarians or vegans. As a meat-eating parent, it can be quite a challenge to come up with interesting and delicious vegetarian recipes that are also well-balanced nutritionally. It’s not just a case of removing meat from mealtimes, but finding ways to add in key nutrients like B12 and protein as well, which we typically get from meat.
If you’re that parent, or if you’re already a vegetarian or vegan and you live close to the South coast, make a beeline for the Brighton Centre this weekend (27th – 28th Feb), for the return of VegFest UK.
In essence, a celebration of all things vegan, you’ll find lots of inspiration for meat-free living with two hundred stalls selling their wares, a food hall and cookery demonstrations as well as talks on health and nutrition. And there’s a packed list of activities for the kids.
There’s the intriguing sounding Mr Potato Head’s Teenage Lobotomy where kids will remove a potato’s “starchy brains and replace them with omega 3 fat-rich brains to make a potato pet”; plus kids can make their own coconut smoothie by pedalling away on a bike; or there’s a science workshop making battery-powered electric bananas, a Pirates of the Carob Bean treasure hunt with Captain James Tea Cook, as well as cookery workshops, magic shows and face painting. And there’s a Teen VGN Zone where teenagers can hang out and chat with friends.
There’s lots going on for the adults too including live performances, talks, cinema and comedy, as well as lots of vegan and vegetarian food.
Last year’s event attracted 12,000 people over one weekend and this year they’re expecting to beat those numbers. If you can’t make it to Brighton, VegFest will also be coming to Bristol in May, London in October and Scotland in December. Advance tickets are £7 (day) and £10 (weekend) or £10 for the day on the door. Kids under 16 go free. You can find more information on the VegFest website.
A Nutritional Supplement for Fussy Eaters
From time to time I get a free sample of something or other in with my regular online grocery delivery. This week, I received a sachet of PaediaSure Shake, a nutritional supplement for fussy eaters aged 1 to 10.
I was intrigued. If you’re the parent of a fussy eater (I am) then chances are you’re worried your kids aren’t getting enough of their daily vitamins and minerals. And those worries may well be valid.
One of the key findings from the recent National Diet and Nutrition Survey found that children in the UK aren’t eating enough fresh fruit, vegetables, fibre and oily fish. Coupled with the fact that our children now spend quite a lot of time indoors, we’ve seen an increase in disorders we thought were long gone; diseases related to malnutrition – namely, rickets and scurvy.
Okay, enough of the scare stories – as parents we’ve got enough to worry about, haven’t we? Which is why I’m in two minds about this product (more on this later).
If I’m considering buying a new food product for the kids, one of the first things I do is turn to the nutrition label, and be jaysuss… spits out coffee. Here’s what it looks like.
Science lesson anyone? Now, most of those scientific names are just the correct chemical names of added vitamins and minerals, and PaediaSure Shake is certainly packed full of them. As well as key nutrients and vitamins like iron, vitamin D, calcium and protein, there’s also a healthy supply of good gut bacteria – lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium lactis.
However, what concerns me as a mum is that sucrose – let’s just call it sugar – is the second listed ingredient on the ingredients list. In other words, aside from hydrolysed corn starch, there’s more sugar in PaediaSure Shakes than anything else.
If you read the label you’ll see that one sachet contains 16.9 grams of sugar, which is just over two teaspoons. Granted there’s just as much sugar in some kids’ yoghurts these days. But with the World Health Organisation recommending that children consume no more than 5-6 teaspoons of added sugar in their diets a day, it’s something to bear in mind if you plan on giving this to your children. Note – at this point in time I can’t be sure how much of that 16.9g is added sugar but when I find out I’ll let you know.
I know I have spent sleepless nights worrying about my children’s diet and if something like PaediaSure gives peace of mind then that’s worth a lot. If your child is supremely fussy for example and isn’t getting sufficient calories per day then those two teaspoons of sugar per shake might well be needed. However, if your child already eats sugary breakfast cereals and snacks throughout the day then it may be worth a rethink.
The vanilla shake my daughter tried was very very sweet (I tasted it too) – no wonder she liked it. It made me wonder whether in my desperation to get any kind of nutrition in her I might be trading one problem (fussy eating) for another (a sweet tooth).
I tried to contact the makers of PaediaSure Shakes – Abbott Nutrition – several times in fact, but as of today I haven’t heard back from them. I’d be more than happy to present their answers to my questions and their views on why parents should buy this product.
Ultimately, as parents we just want to make sure what we’re feeding our children is healthy and sensible, right? So, if and when Abbott Nutrition do respond (which I think they might do after I post this on Twitter) then I’ll let you know what they say.
In summary, I’m not against PaediaSure Shakes – I am sure there’s a time and a place for using them. After all, they are supplements – and as that name suggests, are a supplement to daily eating and shouldn’t be used to replace regular mealtimes. My current state of mind however it I view this product with some skepticism. If I change my mind, I’ll let you know.
PaediaSure Shakes are available in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavours from Boots, Asda and Ocado. Currently Ocado has a deal offering a 400g tin for £6.66 (regular price £9.99). You can find out more on the PaediaSure Shake website: www.fussyeaters.co.uk