Hi everyone! Work has been so busy lately, so sorry for my lack of posting. If any dietitians are looking for a job in New Orleans, Children’s Hospital is hiring!
I decided to dedicate this post to people that want to raise their children as vegetarian (or teenagers that wish to be vegetarians). Many people don’t believe it’s possible to have a healthy diet without meat, but it is possible with taking things into consideration. In fact, many argue that vegetarians tend to be healthier than their carnivorous counterparts.
There are many different kinds of vegetarians including Lacto-ovo vegetarians who include dairy products and eggs in the diet (but no meat) and can range all the way to vegans who avoid all animal products including eggs, dairy, and honey. Some vegetarians may also eat fish, but avoid other types of meats. They are sometimes called pescatarians.
When planning a vegetarian diet for your child, there are some nutrients to keep in mind. While many of these can be found in dairy products and/or fish, vegans will especially need to be on the lookout.
- Protein – This important source of energy can be found in a variety of foods. Meat is a great source of protein, as well as dairy products and eggs. If vegan, there are plant based foods to choose from as well including peanut butter, nuts, beans, whole grain products, and tofu. If you are raising a vegetarian infant, mashed beans and tofu can be added around 8 months in place of meats. Peanut butter and nuts should be delayed due to allergy potential and choking hazards.
- Vitamin B12 - This is a very important vitamin that plays a role in making DNA, forming red blood cells, and in our neurological function. B12 is found in a number of animal foods as well as some fortified foods. Foods that naturally contain this vitamin are milk, fish, poultry, and eggs. Fortified foods include breakfast foods, as well as soymilk. Therefore, if your child is not eating any animal foods or enough fortified foods, a B12 vitamin may be needed to prevent deficiency.
- Calcium - When most people think of this bone building nutrient, they think of dairy products. And as mentioned above, not all vegetarians eat or drink dairy products. What many people don’t realize is that calcium is also found in many dark green leafy vegetables like kale, fish and seafood (for pescatarians), and in soy products.
- Iron – There are two types of dietary iron: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is found in animal foods such as liver, red meats, poultry, and fish. This type of iron is absorbed more efficiently in our bodies. Nonheme iron is found in other types of foods such as fortified grains, beans, soy products, raisins, and spinach. Eating or drinking a source of vitamin C with a source of nonheme iron will help our bodies to absorb it more efficiently. Sources of vitamin C include oranges, orange juice, bell peppers, canteloupe, kiwi, and broccoli (to name a few).
- Vitamin D – Not too long ago, I blogged about this important nutrient so if you’re interested, check it out. In a nutshell, humans make this vitamin but for numerous environmental reasons, we also need it in our diets. The major dietary sources of vitamin D is fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, eggs, cheese, and fortified products (such as regular and soy milk). Also, check out the above link if you’re exclusively breastfeeding…your infant will need a supplement!
I hope you find this information helpful. As I said before, it is very possible for a child to have a healthy diet while avoiding animal products, but it’s important to be aware.
I hope everyone has a great weekend! I’ll be going to a Stella & Dot trunk party tomorrow night with some friends. I also plan on planting some more stuff in my garden.
What are your weekend plans? Have you ever bought anything from Stella & Dot?