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Posts Tagged ‘lacto-vegetarian’

Did you know that Chelsea Clinton served meat at her wedding? I recently found out she was a vegetarian. In a random conversation with friends, we discussed the new questions that may arise from her being newly married such as “When do you want kids?” or maybe even “Will they be vegetarians like you?”

Vegetables and kids … the two words are usually used in a context where the child isn’t such a big fan of veggies. But raising a child as a vegetarian is not as unnatural as it may sound. Most parents who are vegetarian receive questions such as: Why are you a vegetarian? Will you raise your kids that way? Or do you think parents should choose their preferred diets for their kids, or let the children choose what they want?

Vegetarianism is a popular choice for many adults and families nowadays. But many parents may wonder if kids can safely follow a vegetarian diet and still get all necessary nutrients. Most dietary and medical experts agree that a well-planned vegetarian diet can actually be a very healthy way to eat.

However, special care must be taken when serving kids and teens a vegetarian diet, especially if it doesn’t include certain proteins, dairy and egg products. It is important to understand the nutritional needs of kids for their health and growth.

There are Different Types of Vegetarian Diets
Before your child or family switches to a veggie diet, it’s important to note the various kinds of vegetarian diets because they are all very different. Major vegetarian categories include:

  • ovo-vegetarian: eats eggs; no meat
  • lacto-ovo vegetarian: eats dairy and egg products; no meat
  • lacto-vegetarian: eats dairy products; no eggs or meat
  • vegan: eats only food from plant sources

And many other people are semi-vegetarians who have eliminated red meat, but may eat poultry or fish (commonly referred to as pescatarian).

The Choice of Vegetarianism
Kids or families may follow a vegetarian diet for many reasons – ethics, philosophy, economics and religion, to name a few — but in recent years, there are many nutritional studies linking large amounts of meat with certain chronic diseases, which has caused many people to change their meat-eating ways.

Nutrition for All Ages
It is good to ask your doctor or a registered dietitian to help you plan your child or family’s vegetarian diet. A well-planned vegetarian diet can meet kids’ nutritional needs and has some health benefits. For example, a diet rich in fruits and veggies will be high in fiber and low in fat, factors known to improve cardiovascular health by reducing blood cholesterol and maintaining a healthy weight. Depending on the type of vegetarian diet chosen, kids may miss out on some of these important nutrients if the parents don’t monitor the diet. Here are nutrients that vegetarians should get and some of their best food sources: 

  • vitamin B12: dairy products, eggs, and vitamin-fortified products, such as cereals, breads, and soy and rice drinks, and nutritional yeast
  • vitamin D: milk, vitamin D-fortified orange juice, and other vitamin D-fortified products
  • calcium: dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, dried beans, and calcium-fortified products, including orange juice, soy and rice drinks, and cereals
  • protein: dairy products, eggs, tofu and other soy products, dried beans, and nuts
  • iron: eggs, dried beans, dried fruits, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and iron-fortified cereals and bread
  • zinc: wheat germ, nuts, fortified cereal, dried beans, and pumpkin seeds

The less restrictive the vegetarian diet, the easier it will be for your child to get enough of the necessary nutrients. In some cases, fortified foods or supplements can help meet nutritional needs.

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