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Vegetarian Kids

Diane Luke
Senior Editor, TipsHire
Vegetarian-Kids

Nowadays, many people from all over the world say that vegetarianism is healthy for people. Others, however, say that this is a type of diet that involves some risks to our health, and we should assume that for a proper function of our organisms we need proteins from meat and other animal foods. Although adults may get some benefits out of a vegetarian diet, vegetarian kids are put at a higher risk when they or their parents are accepting a vegetarian diet. All about the effects of eating only ‘green’ foods on vegetarian kids will be debated following next points of discussion:

1. Will a vegetarian diet affect kids?

2. What you must know if you want to have vegetarian kids.

3. Myths versus Truths.

4. Our suggested diet for vegetarian kids.

 

1. Will a vegetarian diet affect kids?

For example, there are some cities in the UK, in which the kids could be institutionalized by the Social Assistance authorities if their parents oblige them to accept a vegetarian diet. Of course, if parents decide to include special kids food or non-vegetarian foods into their kids’ diet, then the Social Assistance will not take action.

Certainly, social workers have a legal basis for this action which derives from clinical and nutritional studies. A member of the British Academy of Food, the pediatrician, and nutritionist Helen Wilcock, says that there’s not a matter to judge if a vegetarian diet is good or bad for young kids but any parent who wants to raise a child with this type of diet has to be informed that the kid may record iron deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, low levels of calcium, or low levels of vitamin B12, which must be added through dietary supplements.

Another problem observed by nutritionists on vegetarian kids is that this type of diet does not provide the necessary energy for the kids. In vegetarian diets to get the necessary amount of daily energy, you have to eat much more than normal. For kids who lack energy, this can lead to complications, especially because kids do not usually eat much. If the parent decides, however, to have vegetarian kids is recommended to add various types of oils in their kids’ diets, thus providing more calories.

Proteins represent another topic of debate. One piece of meat offers each type of essential amino acids, but in vegetables and fruits, these are found separately. Thus, a vegetarian diet would have to be very complex to offer all the necessary proteins. For example, children who eat a piece of chicken steak will get all the necessary amino acids, but children eating only one type of vegetable or fruit will not get the necessary amount of proteins.

In vegetarians kids, if the vegetarian diet is not completed with the necessary dietary supplements, the first symptoms that will manifest will be kids development issues. Not having enough calories and protein, kids does not grow properly, and the bones will not be strong.

The biggest mistakes that parents commonly make is to believe that what is healthy for an adult is also healthy for a kid. For example, foods with a high amount of fibers or those with fewer fats are ideal for adults, but for an under 5 years old kid, these kind of foods are not good, because, at this age, the kid needs more fats, while fibers will make the kid eating less, which for an average weighing kid is not good.

2. What you must know if you want to have vegetarian kids.

In some cases, parents who are already vegetarians decide to raise their sons and daughters in the same way. In other cases, parents thinking that this would be a healthier lifestyle will introduce this type of dietary scheme later in their kids’ lives.

The American Dietetic Association says that vegetarianism is good for children. In a press release, they cited a study according to which vegetarian kids and teenagers eat less cholesterol and saturated fat, but more fruits, vegetables, and fibers. Dr. Jatinder Bhatia said that ‘vegetarianism can be a wise choice for a healthy life, but we must be careful to create a dietetic balance and eat the substances which we get deprived of by eliminating animal products‘.

Iron is the most common nutrient that lacks in fruits, while the plants rich in iron contain a version of it that is harder to get absorbed by the body, compared to the one found in meat. Parents should warn the doctor that they are having vegetarian kids, in order to make the doctors take periodically tests for iron deficiency. Iron deficiency is not only affecting a child’s growth, but at some point, an iron deficiency may become hard to recover from, or even irreversible and will damage the cognitive abilities of the kids.

The more restrictive a vegetarian diet is, the more difficult it is for the kids to get all the substances necessary for a proper growth and development of both body and mind. The lowest risk to develop malnutrition occurs in those who are Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians, meaning those people who eat milk and eggs but only quit eating meat. Therefore, this could be the best dietary choice if you want to have vegetarian kids, especially because milk contains a lot of calcium, necessary for bone fortification.

Vitamin B12 can only be found in animal products, so when applying for a vegetarian diet, you need to consume dietary supplements of this nutrient. Vegetarian kids may be at risk of having insufficient calcium, vitamin D, and riboflavin levels.

Some cultures, such as those in Eastern Asia, are mostly vegetarians but have developed some methods of compensation for these nutrients that usually lack in a regular vegetarian diet. For example, to ensure that they get essential proteins they include all the essential amino acids in their diets, which are the basis of protein production. Eastern Asia cultures use a beans and rice combination to get all the essential amino acids. However, it is important to seek a nutritionist advice before implementing such a vegetarian menu for your vegetarian kids.

Those being said, on of the biggest mistakes parents make is to eliminate meat from kids diets without replacing it with something else.

3. Myths versus Truths.

Myth: Vegetarianism is always healthy.

Fact: As we’ve already discussed above, statistics show that those who have a vegan diet are relatively healthier than those on a regular diet. However, they can make very many mistakes which consequences are severe. Indeed, among vegetarians, there are fewer cases of obesity and chronic health issues, but it is difficult to determine whether this is due to a healthy lifestyle or diet.

Myth: A vegetarian diet is always low in fats.

Fact: Person with a vegetarian diet is eating more vegetables than normal, which can lead to consumption in large quantities of vegetable fats, such as those that are found in olive oil or Avocado, for example. Although unsaturated fats are healthier, they still contain enough calories that can lead to overweight.

4. Our suggested diet for vegetarian kids.

To ensure that the vegetarian kids receive all the necessary nutrients for their growth and development of body and mind, our suggested diet for vegetarian kids should include:

  • alternative proteins sources, such as nuts, eggs, and tofu
  • high-calorie foods, such as various types of oils, which are providing the necessary energy required for growth and development processes
  • iron dietary supplement to prevent anemia and cognitive problems
  • B12 dietary supplement
  • vitamin D and calcium dietary supplements to prevent bone diseases
  • healthy fats which play an important role in the proper brain development and function
  • foods administrated in the right combination, to be sure that all the nutrients can be easily digested and absorbed

Very important to know is that a vegetarian diet is not meant to be applied for babies of below 12 months old. For babies, up to 12 months old milk is very important for and should not be removed!

Alternative sources of protein are eggs, seeds, soy, or peanuts, and some vegetables containing proteins are ragout, lentils, chickpeas, beans, and tomato. The energy needs of a kid are very high, while his stomach is small. You should include in your kids’ diets some products that provide a high level of energy, such as grains, dairy, fruits, or oils.

Note that if you make the decision to have vegetarian kids a very important step that you have to do before implementing the vegetarian diet is to seek for doctor’s and nutritionist’s advice to be sure you do not subject your kids it to unnecessary risks that could cause unsolvable problems.

Vegetarian kids are not always healthier than other kids or slimmer than others and implementing a strict vegetarian diet for your kids you’ll only deprive them for enjoying all kind of foods, therefore affecting them on the psychological level when they’ll meet other kids enjoying tasty foods. Our advice to you is to let your kids having a regular balanced diet, at least they grow up enough to choose their own paths regarding the diets.

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Vegetarian Kids
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Nowadays, many people from all over the world say that vegetarianism is healthy for people. Others, however, say that this is a type of diet that involves some risks to our health, and we should assume that for a proper function of our organisms we need proteins from meat and other animal foods. Although adults may get some benefits out of a vegetarian diet, vegetarian kids are put at a higher risk when they or their parents are accepting a vegetarian diet.
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