Finding a vegan-friendly doctor for your child

March 23, 2010

Baby at the doctor

Photo by tandemracer

One of the biggest concerns we’re hearing from expectant vegan parents is about finding a supportive pediatrician and family doctor – it seems to be hard enough to find someone for ourselves, so what about small children? We turned this over to the Council of Vegan Parents: how did they find a veg-friendly pediatrician, or what did they do if they found themselves stuck with someone who isn’t supportive?

Here’s the good news: not a single Council member responded with a horror story – at least, not one that they didn’t get out of. Everyone has a doctor and/or pediatrician that they’re happy with, and it didn’t seem like it took any Herculaen efforts to achieve this.

The Council had the following advice, and as always, when I say “advice” I’m referring to the opinions and experiences collected here, and this isn’t official medical counsel, blah blah blah, though saying “consult your health care professional” in a post about finding a health care professional seems confusing. Anyway, here’s what we’ve got for you this week:

Doctor or Pediatrician? Some people in our panel skipped the pediatrician stage altogether and just went for a family practice physician that could be a resource for the whole family. The consensus seems to be that pediatricians can be more critical of parents and tend to schedule in shorter appointments, but that might just be the sampling from our responses.

Know what matters to you. There’s still a bit of “residual awe” around the doctor profession in some parts, and some of you might have a subconscious sense that you’re lucky to even be talking to one. Remember that the doctor isn’t accepting you, you’re accepting the doctor. It’s OK to ask questions, and many of our Council members interviewed three or four doctors before finding one they liked.

Diet really isn’t that big an issue. Most questions our Council members have been getting about diet are the kinds of questions that the doctor asks all parents, not just the vegan ones. As long as your children are hitting their growth targets and seem healthy overall, diet might not come up much in discussions anyway.

Be assertive. If you tell your potential doctor that you’d “like” to raise your children vegan, or that it’d be your “ideal” scenario, then you’re leaving the door open for animal product recommendations. If you’re a vegan family, say so and make it clear that it’s not up for discussion.

Accept that the doctor might not be vegan or vegetarian, and frankly, might not know that much about nutrition in general. A vegan doctor is of course ideal, but they’re pretty rare still. The amount of actual nutrition training in medical school still seems to be fairly low, but if your doctor is open to the idea of veganism and has access to a good nutritionist, you’ll probably do OK.

You can switch doctors later. If things start out simple enough but then you start getting recommendations that don’t sound right, you can always change doctors again. That said, it’s important to listen – if your doctor says that you need to feed your kids milk, that’s one thing, but if every doctor tells you that a diet that’s 95% ketchup is a horrible idea, well, they might not be the ones with a problem…

Don’t hide your veganism. Hiding anything that might be relevant to your family’s health is pretty foolish really, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to come up once your child learns to talk… 🙂

So where do you find doctors to interview? Apparently, the phone book was a great start for a lot of our Council members (or Yelp, in this decade.) If you’re lucky enough to get a referral/recommendation from friends, especially vegan friends, then that’s great, but simple phone calls to names in a list can work out fine.

Thanks to Amy, Sarah, Kim, Rebecca, Kristie, Jo, Celeste, Steph and Julie for their help on this one!

Related: Vaccines and your vegan family

(Photo credit: tandemracer)

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

angela_thrust March 23, 2010 at 3:44 pm

So when does one look for a pediatrician? Before or after you have your baby?

sayward March 23, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Funny, I just made an appointment with a new pediatrician yesterday. I got her name from a fellow vegan mom, and consider myself very lucky. The doctor herself is vegan! Can't wait to meet with her. =)

@ angela_thrust
They recommend that you do it before, but it's not a big deal if you wait. If you deliver in a hospital they will assign you a pediatrician in the interim. If you deliver at a birth center/ at home, then it's more on you. My new son was given a 3-day and then a 2-week check-up, just fyi.

Suzanne March 23, 2010 at 8:46 pm

angela – we found one a few months before, and did what non-vegan parents would do, asked everyone and anyone for recommendations, and then figured we'd interview them to make sure they'd be supportive of our choice. we lucked out, and a very highly thought of ped in our area, who we love, was like, “vegan, great! my daughter was vegan for awhile.” So she's aware, and when she doesn't know the answer, she researches it for us.

Marko March 23, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Which city are you in?

sayward March 23, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Haha, Portland Oregon of course! =D

Becky March 24, 2010 at 2:05 am

Oh! Would it be possible for you to email me the name of the vegan doctor?
(Or post it here if you feel comfortable doing that.) I'm about six months along and starting to think about looking for a vegan-friendly pediatrician.
My email address is becky.lenno@gmail.com. Thanks!

sayward March 24, 2010 at 2:26 am

emailed!

villavegan March 30, 2010 at 2:08 am

My husband (a family medicine M.D.) and I (writer and mom of three with aforementioned hubby) wrote about this very topic in our new book “The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Eating for Kids.” There's an entire section on finding a veg friendly doc and working with health care professionals of all sorts on your vegan child's health care. Check it out (it's in most local libraries now, as well as amazon.com) and let me know what you think. Dana Villamagna http://www.villavegan.com.

jendiggity April 3, 2010 at 6:35 am

I didn't even think about trying to find a pediatrician before the baby is born! I better get on that. My obstetrician freaked out when he found out I was vegan (I didn't volunteer the info – I do plenty of research on how to eat healthfully while pregnant). He found out because he recommended a Big Fat (Greasy, Cheesy, Gross) Chicken Taco from Del Taco and I let him know we don't eat that kind of stuff. He left me a message after the appointment to let me know he referred me to a nutritionist. If I had been scarfing fast food tacos he'd have no problem, but a plant-based diet…whoa! Of course the nutritionist laughed when I told her the story and proceeded to praise my diet and even said she wished her diet was as good! She only recommended I have my cholesterol checked…to make sure it wasn't too low!

christy October 3, 2010 at 6:44 pm

@sayward can I have the doctors info too? also here in portland, we are not pregnant yet, but are planning. One thing that really worried me was finding a veg friendly doctor!
ferocynide@yahoo.com

Gregg L. Friedman MD November 10, 2010 at 9:14 pm

My name is Gregg L. Friedman MD. I am a Board Certified Psychiatrist treating both children and adult. I am also Veg-Friendly. Please add me to your list of Doctors who are Veg-Friendly. Thanks, Gregg L. Friedman MD, 2500 East Hallandale Beach Blvd, Suite 702, Hallandale Beach, FL, 33009. Phone 954-456-1996.

momo September 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I would like the info on the Portland vegan doctor as well! 🙂 my email is meh2obear@gmail.com

M July 8, 2012 at 5:44 am

Me too!

Portland, Oregon Vegan Doctor
ms.m.sage@gmail.com

Heather October 22, 2012 at 1:04 am

I too am now vegan because of diabetes (and it has improved dramatically since my doctor urged a vegan diet), and we are moving to Portland OR in June…and sadly, I am leaving my fantastic doctor here in WA and am really concerned about finding a good vegan-supportive doctor. Help! If someone can email me with some suggestions, I would really appreciate it … sundbladhsu@yahoo.com

Aimee October 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I’m looking for a vegetarian/vegan-friendly pediatrician/family doc in northern Los Angeles county. If anyone knows of one please let me know. My baby’s coming in December and I hope to have a good doc in place by then! Thanks!

Jason March 23, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Can I also get the vegan doc in Portlands name?
Thanks jasonellissmith@gmail.com

Meagan October 7, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I know this thread is quite old, but if you still have that recommendation I would really appreciate it! meaganjg@gmail.com

Kelsey January 21, 2014 at 7:20 pm

kelseyjorgenson@gmail.com

Me too! Looking for a Portland doctor!

Drew K January 23, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Hi, my wife and I live in Portland Or as well and we’ve been having a hard time finding a vegan friendly pediatrician. Could you please send me the info also for the one here in Portland Or to drewkerivan@gmail.com. Thank you!

Erika gutierrez April 9, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Anyone know a Veg-friendly pediatrician in Houston, TX? Would greatly appreciate any recommendations as I’m not finding anyone.

MrsJ August 20, 2014 at 12:38 pm

This is not helpful. I was thinking this link would be a directory, leading me to a vegan doctor. 🙁

hayley October 7, 2014 at 11:47 pm

Looking for Portland veg ped too! If anyone can email a name of a doctor that would be wonderful!

Thanks!
Hayleylajiness@gmail.com

Aaron Shear March 30, 2015 at 1:09 pm

I am also looking for a vegan freindly pediatrician in Portland. Could one of you send me information? aaron@urbanlacejewelry.com

Elizaveta October 15, 2015 at 6:21 pm

Recently moved with my 6 months son to Portland, OR
I would appreciate if someone would give me the contacts for vegan/vegan-friendly doctor in the area 🙂

elisabazarova@gmail.com

Thanks a lot!!!!

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: