A vegetarian diet can be a healthy choice for all kids, as long as it’s properly planned. (These tips are also helpful for little ones that don’t care for meat.)
The principles of planning a vegetarian diet are the same as planning any healthy diet — provide a variety of foods and include foods from all of the food groups. A balanced diet will provide the right combinations to meet nutritional needs. But be aware of potential nutrient deficiencies in your child’s diet and figure out how you’ll account for them. With a little exploration, you may find more vegetarian options than you realized.
Experts believe one of the biggest mistakes parents they make is just taking the meat off the plate without replacing it with anything.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
Are you sure that your child’s nutritional needs are being met? If not consult a professional for help.