Vegetarian Diets For Children
Are Vegetarian Diets Healthy For Children?
If you are a vegetarian parent, you may have considered vegetarian diets for children in your family. Vegetarian diets for children and the entire family can help you save time and make meal-planning easier. Perhaps for dietary and ethical reasons, you feel it is a better choice for your kids.
Conversely, you might not be a vegetarian yourself, but have a child who is experiencing a vegetarian "phase," where she rejects meat, but doesn't eat enough healthy foods to compensate for the nutritional gap.
No matter what the reason is, you may have been curious about whether or not vegetarian diets for children are a maintainable, healthy choice for your family. You may have heard that placing your child on a vegetarian diet might stunt her growth.
These concerns probably stopped you from placing your child on a vegetarian diet up to this point.
All of these concerns are legitimate. Obviously, if a vegetarian diet is not well planned, it can create serious short and long term health problems, most notably for children, who are growing and developing--and who do not yet have sufficient stores of vitamins.
If you aren't well prepared to put your family on a vegetarian diet, you definitely shouldn't. Conversely, if you have done your due diligence and you are familiar with the nutrients vegetarians commonly lack, then you are aware that these issues can simply be overcome with wise meal planning.
You also are aware that putting your child on a healthful vegetarian diet can greatly enhance her health in both the short and long term. It can also reduce her contact with animal products that contain hormones and preservatives, which have been associate with developmental problems and cancer.
If you haven't researched vegetarian diets thoroughly, but you are anxious to start your child on one now, you should begin by ensuring that you plan meals to increase amounts of the following nutrients (that most vegetarians lack):
1. Protein Make sure your child is eating enough protein by adding more sources, such as wheat, soybeans, isolated soy protein, and nuts.
2. Calcium Ensure your child is getting enough calcium by adding calcium-fortified processed foods and leafy green vegetables to her diet.
3. Iron Add more iron to your family's diet by increasing servings of pinto beans, soy beans, tofu, and cereals.
4. Zinc Improveyour child's zinc intake by increasing his servings of almonds, peanut butter, and mushrooms.
If you concentrate on compensating for all of these ordinary nutritional deficiencies, you absolutely can place your family on a vegetarian diet without any negative health consequences.
Just ignore the mythology surrounding vegetarian diets and focus on research and meal-planning.Back to Vegetarian Page
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