If you are thinking of becoming vegetarian but concerned about the growth and development of your kids because they will also your dietary habits then you should stop worrying because vegetarian diet is completely safe for children. Here are some reasons why vegetarian diet is good for your child’s health.
Types of vegetarian diet
Before you hop on a no meat diet means vegetarian diet, you should know that not all vegetarian diets are similar. It is broadly classified on the basis of food content into four types which are:
- Lacto ovo vegetarian diet – this diet includes milk, eggs and dairy products along with plant based food.
- Lacto vegetarian – this diet includes milk and dairy products but no egg along with cereals, vegetables, fruits and other plant based food sources.
- Ovo vegetarian – this diet excludes milk and dairy products but includes eggs along with other plant derived food items.
- Vegan – it is the most restricted form of vegetarian diet because it prohibits any kind of animal derived product even dairy, dairy products or honey.
There are also semi vegetarians who eat poultry or fish but have removed red or processed meat from their diet.
Taking a decision
Usually, we and our kids follow the vegetarian diet for various reasons such as health, cultural or religious reasons. When kids grow up, they take their own decisions about food therefore you should help them in choosing the correct type of vegetarian diet if you want them to prefer it over meat based food. The decision should be taken by considering the growth and development factors of the child and also on the nutritional requirement according to age and health condition.
How to get a balanced vegetarian diet?
You can consult a doctor to know about the nutritional requirement of your child. Doctor will check the biological stats of the kid and then tell you the correct diet for your kid. Since your child is still in his or her growing phase therefore you should give him/her enough calories and nutrients for their proper growth. Here are some nutrients which must be included in your kid’s diet
Protein – it is required for building of new tissues in the body and repairing any wear and tear of the damaged tissue. Therefore, you should increase the amount of protein in your kid’s diet. Dairy products, eggs, dried beans, and nuts are some common protein rich sources of the protein.
Iron – it is important for the normal physical activity of a person because its deficiency can cause fatigue, loss of appetite, lethargy etc. it can be found in various sources like eggs, dried beans, dried fruits, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and iron-fortified cereals and bread.
Calcium – it is required in order to grow tall and get strong bones. Food items rich in calcium are dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, dried beans, and calcium-fortified products, including orange juice, soy and rice drinks, and cereals.
Vitamin B12 – it is required for proper functioning of nervous system and it can be derived by consuming dairy products, eggs, and vitamin-fortified products such as cereals, breads, and soy and rice drinks, and nutritional yeast.
Vitamin D – it is important for proper utilization of calcium in the body and one can get this nutrient from milk, vitamin D-fortified orange juice, and other vitamin D-fortified products.
Zinc – although, it is a trace nutrient but it is very important in proper functioning of many biological processes. It can be found in wheat germ, nuts, fortified cereal, dried beans, and pumpkin seeds.
If you are introducing solid food to your infants then you can use pulp or mashed form of fruits, pureed and strained legumes (beans, peas, chickpea, lentils etc.), and dairy products like cottage cheese. These food items are light, easy to digest and offer variety of taste to your young ones.
You can consult your doctor on regular intervals to check your child’s growth and also give them health drinks or supplements according to your doctor’s recommendation or prescription. Besides that, encouraging your child to take up sports or engage in outdoor activities will also helps in improving overall personality of our child.