Making sure our children grow up to have healthy bones and strong minds is very important. Which is why we need to ensure the food we give them makes up their nutritional recommendation for the day.
Vegetables contain all the vitamins and nutrients your family need to ensure they have a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) and remain full of energy without needing to consume supplements so if you make the decision of following a vegetarian diet for your family including your little toddlers then you’re still on the right track.
A vegetarian diet can be healthy for your children if it’s well-planned.
Many adults are vegetarian for either moral reasons, health reasons (allergies or the belief that meat is unhealthy), religious reasons or, lastly, ethical reasons (the meat industry creates more greenhouse gas emissions than the transportation sector and is also linked to the pillaging of valuable resources and land that could alleviate world hunger).
So whether your child has chosen to become a vegetarian, or you’re raising your child as one because of your own vegetarianism, it is completely possible for them to grow up happy and healthy without meat in their diet. We hope that you take some comfort in the following information:
Make sure your child has enough to eat. Three meals a day just won’t cut it – they expend a lot of energy and will need healthy snacks to fill their tummies in between meals. Some great snacks include baby carrots, breadsticks, celery or cucumber sticks with hummus dip, nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, cherry tomatoes, a bit of baked potato, cheese, sweet potato crisps, yoghurt, a granola bar or a boiled egg.
Vitamin B12: Ensure your child gets enough vitamin B12 in his / her diet by including plenty of dairy products, eggs, vitamin-fortified cereal, soy and rice drinks, and nutritional yeast.
Calcium: Reduce the risk of osteoporosis and feed your child plenty of dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt, full-cream milk and ice-cream (they won’t complain about that!) If your little one is a pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats fish), oily fish, such as sardines, is a great source of calcium.
Iron can be found in eggs, beans, dried fruits, whole grains, iron-fortified cereals, dark leafy green vegetables (such as spinach, kale and Brussels sprouts) and certain types of bread. Make bitter leafy greens taste more palatable with a yummy homemade cheese sauce.
Vitamin D can be found in vitamin D-fortified orange juice, milk, fatty fish (if pescatarian), fortified cereal, mushrooms, ricotta cheese and eggs.
Protein: Vegetarian-friendly soy and tofu products are packed full of protein, so they are a must-have in every vegetarian’s kitchen! Other foods high in protein include dairy products (particularly cheese), eggs, beans, legumes and nuts.
Tips for raising a healthy vegetarian:
Make every mealtime fun and meaningful! Start a veggie garden with your little one and let them eat the produce that they’ve grown and picked from their very own garden!
Are you raising a little vegetarian? Was it their choice or yours, and how do you make it work? We'd love to know! Tell us in the comments below.