Vegan Foods

How Vegetarian Diets Can Be Healthy For Kids News, Sports, Jobs

Vegetarian parents often wonder if a vegetarian diet is healthy for children. Let me get to the root of the matter and plant some ideas with you on this topic.

Do your homework

The key word in planning any diet for children is growth. Studies show that infants and children can grow well on a vegetarian diet without meat and even without certain dairy products if they are put on more strict vegan diets. But you should plan a vegetarian diet for your child in conjunction with your child’s healthcare professional and / or nutritionist to make sure that all the correct nutrients are provided. That being said, the benefits of a vegetarian diet have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. So if you want your infant or child to be on a vegetarian diet, I have a few suggestions.

Breastfeeding Considerations

You should consider breastfeeding your child whether or not you are a vegetarian. But if you are a vegetarian, you should review your diet with your child’s healthcare professional as it may lack nutrients like vitamins B12, D, calcium, iron, and zinc. If this is the case, additional medicines may be recommended so that your baby can grow with your breast milk.

Sources of protein and other nutrients

As your baby grows, he will need more protein in his diet. Nuts or foods containing seeds like beans or peas can be good sources of protein, but can also pose a choking hazard or cause an allergic reaction. Instead, protein for older infants can be obtained from soy milk if breast milk is not used or from soft soy foods like tofu. Older children can get their protein from eggs and dairy products if these foods are included in their vegetarian diet, and certainly from grains, grains, and vegetables like beans and peas. Iron and calcium can also be obtained from green leafy vegetables like broccoli, which can be eaten as baby food or as a cooked or raw vegetable as your child gets older.

The bottom line is that vegetarian diets require careful and proper planning, so please speak to your child’s healthcare professional or nutritionist to ensure that your child’s vegetarian diet will support adequate growth at all times and not will not cause problems like vitamin or iron deficiency.

Hopefully, tips like these will satisfy your appetite when it comes to considering a vegetarian diet for your child.


Lewis First, MD, is chief of pediatrics at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine. You can also catch “First with the children” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and NBC5.

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