To be able to share your diet with your family as a vegan or vegetarian, there are a few things to keep in mind. Especially if young children are to start with a vegetarian diet.
Tips and tricks what to consider and what is not possible with young children, you will learn here.
Table of contents
Vegetarian Diet Overview
A lactovegetarian avoids meat, fish and eggs. However, they do consume dairy products and milk. This form of vegetarianism is not recommended for children and teenagers in the long run.
The ovo-lacto vegetarian also does not eat fish or meat. Eggs, milk and dairy products, however, are part of their diet.
While maintaining the required nutrients, this diet is also suitable for children and adolescents. Via versatile and nutrient-rich foods, it is ensured that there is a sufficient amount of nutrients needed for the child’s growth.
With a vegan diet, all animal products are excluded from the diet. This then includes meat and fish, as well as honey, milk and eggs.
The vegan diet is unsuitable for children and can have dangerous effects on the child’s development. This is due, among other things, to the fact that through a vegan diet too little calcium, iron, iodine, vitamin D, B2, B12 and long-chain omega 3 could be absorbed, which are needed for the growth and development of the child.
However, adults who prefer a vegan diet should also protect themselves from this deficiency. Vitamin B12 can be absorbed through various plant products. These include dried nori seaweed, which is used for sushi.
Overview Of Vegetarian Diet Children Of Different Ages
During the first 6 months, home-prepared infant formula is not balanced enough. Breast milk or substitute industrially prepared infant milk is needed.
From the sixth month and the first year of life, breast milk or infant milk continues to be given. Raw milk is not yet suitable for the child at that age.
In case of milk allergy, you can resort to plant foods made from soy or rice and oat drinks as a substitute.
Homemade whole milk cereal as well as fruit cereal porridge, offer cereals only heated. This also applies to vegetables and legumes, as it improves the availability of nutrients. It is possible to add fat to vegetable porridge in the form of rapeseed oil.
From one to five years of age, an ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet can be introduced. From the age of five, raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and fresh grain porridge can be added.
Vegetarian Foods For Children
Vegetables, fruits, and legumes are particularly nutritious. Examples include tofu, chickpeas, ground nuts, and whole grains.
For children and teens, protein intake is very important, which they get from dairy products and eggs. You can combine different sources of protein in one meal. For example, milk and potatoes, legumes and potatoes, or eggs and potatoes.
In addition, foods such as oats and millet, bread, or grain foods provide enough zinc and iron. Vegetables such as fennel, spinach, and zucchini are also high in iron and should be in your child’s diet.
Vitamin-C supports iron utilization, which is found in orange juice, apples and peppers. Have your blood iron levels checked from time to time.
Ovo-lacto vegetarians often have a good calcium supply. Vegans, on the other hand, often suffer from a calcium deficiency and thus have a higher risk of bone fractures.
Therefore, they should make sure they have an adequate calcium intake. Vegetables such as broccoli, Chinese cabbage, and kale are good sources of calcium. Fruit juices fortified with calcium are also a possibility.
Good sources are cow’s milk, soy milk, tofu, and calcium-rich mineral waters. Sesame seeds, almonds and dried beans can also contribute.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fat can be supplied through fortified foods such as soy milk and, for increased needs, supplements made from microalgae. Flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, and soy should be considered as so-called ALA sources.
For vegetarian and vegan diets, B12 deficiency is a known risk. The daily requirement of vitamin B12 is 1.5 µg for a child aged 1 to under 4 years, according to official recommendations.
However, due to the less than ideal absorption capacity of vitamin B12 in most people, the actual intake should be significantly higher than this, as a large proportion of the ingested vitamin is excreted unutilized.
Vitamin B12 is increasingly found in animal food. Meat or offal, in particular, can contain up to 65 µg/100g. Since animal food and especially offal are completely avoided by vegetarians and vegans, there is an increased risk of not absorbing enough vitamin B12.
Within the framework of an ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet, vitamin B12 sources can still be taken in with the help of eggs and cheese.
Medical Advice And Regular Monitoring
While there are not yet many long-term studies available, there are no known adverse effects of a vegetarian diet in children. Ideally, a pediatrician should be consulted for advice.
In addition, regular check-ups are recommended. Accordingly, the diet can be adjusted individually. Basically, a varied and balanced diet is important.
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