Feeding children a vegetarian diet: Parents should know that

  • Children’s Health Foundation recommends a meatless diet for children
  • Vegetarian families should inquire about the nutritional needs of their children report
  • Vegetarian diet: A nutrient deficiency threatens one impaired child development

Meat consumption in our society is too high in general and therefore more and more people are consciously avoiding meat. The number of people who eat vegetarian or vegan food has increased significantly in the last ten years. But is this diet also healthy for children? In its current communication, the Children’s Health Foundation is true: It has been shown that a child who eats balanced and plant-based products can avoid meat.

Children’s Health Foundation: Meatless Nutrition for Kids: What to Consider?

The vegetarian diet corresponds to many recommendations of modern nutritional science: it weighs fewer calories and contains less saturated fatty acids, cholesterol and animal protein. Vegetarians get more fiber and health-promoting antioxidants through their diet.

According to Prof. Berthold Koletzko, a metabolic specialist at the Ludwigs-Maximilian University of Munich, parents should pay attention to two important principles, regardless of whether they eat meat or not:

  • The more food groups that are excluded from the diet, the greater the risk that the selected diet will lead to malnutrition and thus deficiency symptoms in the child.
  • The younger a child is when a restrictive diet is introduced, the more likely a deficiency will occur that will harm the child’s developing body.

The foundation emphasizes that it may be necessary to add certain nutrients to a diet without meat so that there are no deficiencies and the normal development of children is guaranteed. Many nutrients are only found in significant amounts in meat, fish or eggs. Vegetarian families should therefore obtain very detailed information on the nutritional requirements of growing children and youth and seek sound advice.

To ensure an adequate supply of vitamins B1, B6, and B12, as well as iron, zinc, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy vegetarian diet should contain plenty of whole grains, legumes, nuts, and oilseeds.

Threat of Nutrient Deficiencies in Vegan Diets

In the case of vegetarian families who supplement their plant-based diet with milk, dairy products and eggs (“lacto-ovo-vegetarians”), there is no risk of deficiency if the diet is balanced as a whole. The lacto-vegetarian diet, in which eggs are also avoided, can also be a healthy diet.

Vegetarian Christmas dishes cookbook

However, the situation is more critical if children follow a strict vegan diet (avoid all animal products)., as a lack of vitamin B12 (cobalamin), iron, protein and trace elements can impair development. As a result, some children grow below average and therefore develop their motor skills and language later.

“Especially families who eat a vegan diet should receive intensive medical and dietary advice to prevent dangers for their children and allow undisturbed development,” recommends Koletzko.

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