Raising and Feeding Vegetarian Kids

Raising and Feeding Vegetarian Kids

More and more children today are vegetarians because their parents have opted to live a vegetarian lifestyle or they have chosen it themselves (sometimes at a very early age!). There is plenty of research that shows that a vegetarian lifestyle has enormous health benefits. Vegetarians tend to consume more fiber, vitamins, and minerals from a variety of sources. They also have lower cholesterol levels and less likeliness of developing chronic illnesses, such as obesity, atherosclerosis, asthma, and diabetes.

Vegetarian Kids

Vegetarian foods are a more efficient energy source than animal products as they are easier for the body to break down and leave a smaller carbon footprint. There are often concerns about children receiving the nutrients they need for proper growth and development when omitting meat from their diet. Essentially, without meat, poultry, and fish, we need to ensure that a child gets sufficient protein, iron, and zinc. There are plenty of veggie-based protein and iron-rich foods like tofu, lentils, chickpeas, and beans. And zinc can be found primarily in whole grains, wheat germ, lima beans, soy, and nuts.

Limit the processed “meat alternatives” as you would in a meat-containing diet because they have preservatives and sodium. Look for the most natural varieties that you can find (read labels) and limit consumption to a few times per week. Try alternative grains that are highly nutritious like quinoa, millet, teff, and barley that contain more protein than some of their grain counterparts.

As with all children, offer your veggie-loving little ones three meals and two to three snacks daily so they have many opportunities to receive the nutrition that they need. Make sure that they get three servings of calcium-rich foods per day, a protein source at each meal and at least one snack, and drink lots of water. If there are any concerns about growth, nutritional intake, or you notice a change in your child’s health and well-being consult with your pediatrician or pediatric dietitian.

Check out these Web sites for family friendly, easy recipes:

VegKitchen with Nava Atlas

The Vegetarian Resource Group

Meatless Monday


~ Nicole Meadow, MPN, RD 

This post is solely for informational purposes. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for medical advice. Before undertaking any course of treatment or dietary changes, you should seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider.

We aim to provide you with the most honest and credible information possible. This article was reviewed for accuracy by The Honest Team and was written based on trusted sources that are linked at the bottom of the article.