With proper planning and a wide of vegetarian options, children and adolescents can reap the health benefits of a non meat diet during the most important stages of life. Generally the parents who have a vegetarian diet require such a diet for their children too.
There are many adolescents who for various reasons (weight, a different attitude to parents about nutrition, etc..) chose to abandon traditional diet to one based on vegetables and fruits. The earliest food for a vegan baby is ideally breast milk. Many benefits to the infant are conveyed by breast feeding including some enhancement of the immune system, protection against infection, and reduced risk of allergies. In addition, breast milk was designed for baby humans and quite probably contains substances needed by growing infants which are not even known to be essential and are not included in infant formulas.
Many parents and pediatricians consider a vegetarian diet unhealthy for children, but there is another view, it is beneficial if well planned. A vegetarian diet can provide children’s nutritional needs. In general, a vegetarian diet is rich in fiber and low in cholesterol and fat. The good part is that children are not predisposed obesity, cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Whether you are ovo-vegetarians, lacto-ovo vegetarians, lacto-vegetarians and vegetarians should be careful.
A vegetarian diet can be a good choice for a child, provided it is properly planned. What does this mean? The same principles that guide the choice of any healthy diet should be respected and if a vegetarian diet. It should contain foods that provide nutrients needed for growth of a child.
In general, vegetarian diet is rich in fiber, low in cholesterol and saturated fats, which are characteristics of a healthy diet. All persons who have such a diet do not suffer from obesity and a low risk for heart disease and diabetes. If a child has such a diet, then most likely he will not suffer from these diseases, whose incidence among the children is constantly increasing.
There are several types of vegetarian diets. Some people refuse to eat any animal product, so no milk or eggs. It is the most restrictive vegetarian diet. Others excluded from eating only meat, but consume milk and eggs. Another category of people choose to drink milk, but eggs and meat and eggs rather different category, but not milk and meat. In children, the diet is not appropriate restrictive. It’s good for children to consume milk and eggs contain many nutrients necessary for their healthy development.
Children and Vegetarian Diet
Make sure your child gets enough of all the nutrients needed for a growing child. Their vegetarian diet must include:
Protein alternatives such as nuts, eggs, legumes and tofu
Energy for growth and development
Iron to prevent anemia
Vitamin D and calcium to prevent bone disease
Suitable fats from non-meat sources
Food in the correct form and combination to make sure nutrients can be digested and absorbed.
Breast milk or formula will remain an important food for babies up until 12 months. Talk to your child and maternal health nurse about the introduction of solids.
Small serves of protein should be included at each main meal. Suggestions for beans and legumes include:
- Baked beans
Chickpeas and hummus
Red kidney beans
Three bean mix
Smooth nut butters.
Pulses should be thoroughly cooked to destroy toxins and to help digestion. Undercooked pulses can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Young children have high-energy needs and a small stomach. You should include a mixture of refined and unrefined (wholegrain) cereals and a variety of energy-giving foods in your child’s diet. These can be found in the following foods:
- Cereals – all types of cereal are suitable for vegetarian diets. This includes baby cereals such as infant rice cereal and wholegrain cereals and refined cereals like pasta, flour, white rice and white bread.
- Dairy products – full fat dairy products are the most common choice. An alternative is soy milk with added calcium. Some soy milks also have added vitamin B12.
- Fruit and vegetables – include a wide variety of fruit and vegetables every day. As a guide, aim for two small serves of fruit and three small serves of vegetables.
- Oils – include soy and canola oils because they contain linolenic acid, which is important for brain and nervous tissue function. Oils also provide energy.
Calories – a vegetarian diet means eating a smaller number of calories. But for its proper development, a child needs enough calories. Of course there is no need for a parent to sit and calculate the number of calories daily. In general, if the baby has a varied and balanced diet, the weight and power, then means that the benefits of caloric need.
Iron – is best assimilated by the body when it comes from red meat or fish. Absorption is about 15-30% from other sources is assimilated at a rate of about 5%. Although many fruits and vegetables containing iron, it is not treated as well as the meat. Consequently, the child should eat as many foods contain added iron (bread, cereal, pasta, etc.).. If necessary, turn to supplements based on iron.
Vitamin B12 – is absorbed by the body only meat. It is therefore imperative that a child who is a vegetarian diet to take the vitamin supplements.
Vitamin D – found in eggs, milk, and fish. Also, exposure to sunlight absorbs this vitamin. That is why most children have deficiency of vitamin D. If your child does not spend much time in the sun, we must take account of this vitamin supplements.
Calcium – is present in bones and is essential in child development and growth. It is found in milk and the vegetables (broccoli, sweet potatoes, beans, vegetables, etc.)..
Proteins – parents must ensure that the baby is getting enough protein and amino acids in a balanced vegetarian diet, including nuts and seeds should not miss.
Zinc – the best sources of zinc are meat and yogurt. Children who do not consume meat or dairy must be given zinc supplements. It is also found in spinach, whole grains, brown rice and some vegetables.
If a vegetarian diet can have numerous health benefits to children, it can cause another kind of health problems. If you want to raise your child with such a diet would be best to first consult a paediatrician or a nutritionist because little could already have some vitamin deficiencies that may increase if you have a vegetarian diet.
You should learn the properly way to implement an effective vegetarian diet.