Alicia Silverstone feeds her son a vegan diet

Alicia Silverstone has been an outspoken advocate for veganism for years, even writing a book in 2011 called The Kind Diet that explains why she chose a plant-based way of eating that doesn’t include meat, fish, seafood, poultry, dairy or eggs. Now, the Clueless actress is discussing her decision to feed her 6-year-old son, Bear Blu, a vegan diet, too.

“Knowing the truth about where our food comes from is just so disturbing to me,” she says in a video for the non-profit Farm Sanctuary’s Compassionate Meals program, as she and Bear eat veggie burgers and kale salad. “Once you see it, there’s no way to go back from that for me.” Bear is also asked what his favorite thing about being a vegan is. His response: “That you don’t have to eat yucky meat.”

Silverstone says it’s easy for her to feed Bear vegan foods, and she regularly makes easy-to-assemble meals like tacos and stir-fries. “I can make all those things based on what’s in the fridge,” she says. “You always have a bean, you always have a whole grain.” Silverstone says being vegan has “turned me into a health nut because you feel so good, you feel so different,” adding, “being able to do something that is good for the Earth, good for the animals, and good for you all at the same time seems like such a no-brainer. It’s like the biggest ‘Duh!’”

Although veganism is popular, feeding children a vegan diet is a controversial move.

According to a 2016 Harris Interactive Poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group about 3.7 million American adults identify as vegan. But the decision to put children on a vegan diet frequently comes under fire.

A law proposed in Italy in 2016 would make it illegal for parents to put their children on a vegan diet, which lawmakers referred to as “a diet devoid of elements essential for healthy and balanced growth,” per Reuters. The proposed law came after several high-profile cases in the country involving undernourished children on vegan diets. In one case, a 1-year-old on a vegan diet only weighed as much as a 3-month-old and, in another, a father alleged that his 12-year-old son’s growth was stunted due to a vegan diet chosen by the boy’s mother.

Silverstone has faced criticism in the past for feeding Bear a vegan diet, and she told People in 2014 that her son “loves the food I give him. He’s not being deprived of anything. For him, having amazing fruit is like candy.”

There are mixed messages out there when it comes to kids and vegan diets, and it’s understandable if you’re confused.

Some people claim that children who are raised on a vegan diet won’t get enough nutrients they need to grow into strong adults, while others say it simply encourages healthy eating in children.

So, is it a good idea to feed kids a vegan diet? Ashanti Woods, M.D., a pediatrician at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center, tells SELF that it depends. “Children who consume a vegan diet are generally as healthy, if not more healthy, than children who have a ‘normal’ diet,” he says. Dr. Woods points out that there are various lay definitions of vegetarianism and veganism, but pediatricians pay special attention to true vegans, i.e., those who swear off all animal products. “The more restrictions on a diet, the more pediatricians become concerned because these children are at risk for nutritional deficiencies,” he says.