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How to Raise a Healthy Vegetarian Child

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How to Raise a Healthy Vegetarian Child

A child can grow up plant-based and stay healthy. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has stated that “appropriately planned vegan, lacto-vegetarian [eating only dairy], and lacto-ovo-vegetarian [eating dairy and eggs] diets satisfy nutrient needs of infants, children, and adolescents and promote normal growth.”1

Being vegetarian as a child or adolescent does not stunt growth, and has health benefits, since vegetarian diets are higher in fruits, vegetables and fiber than standard North American diets.2

If your child (plant-based or not) seems to be losing weight or lacking energy or if you have any concerns, we recommend speaking with your health care practitioner for specific recommendations.

Top Foods for Plant-Based Kids

The nutrients that you have probably heard the most about as being lacking in a plant-based diet are calcium, iron, vitamin B12, zinc and protein. Encourage your plant-based child to eat more of these foods to ensure they get enough of those nutrients.

  • Tofu (source of protein)
  • Beans (source of protein and iron)
  • Nuts (source of protein and essential fatty acids)
  • Pumpkin seeds (for protein and iron)
  • Fortified breads and cereals (for vitamin B12)

While it’s easy for plant-based kids to fall into the routine of bagels, pizza and PB&Js, encouraging them to eat more vegetables and plant-based protein will help them to meet their nutrition needs.

Family Friendly Plant-Based Meals

If you’re looking for new plant-based recipes your whole family will approve of, let us get you started with our top 5 dinner recipes.

 

For breakfast, lunch (and dessert!) recipes check out Vega® Recipe Center.

 

References:

  1. Craig WJ, Mangels AR. (2009).Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 109(7):1266-82. Accessed 12/22/15 from http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/2009_ADA_position_paper.pdf
  2. Craig WJ, Mangels AR. (2009).Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 109(7):1266-82. Accessed 12/22/15 from http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/2009_ADA_position_paper.pdf

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