Should Your Child be a Vegetarian?

List: Posted: 01/28/11

When you are a parent, looking out for your children’s nutrition becomes one of your top priorities.  If you are a vegetarian, it can be a struggle trying to determine if the lifestyle you lead is a healthy one for your growing child. 

 

Today, we will look at vegetarianism and children’s nutrition in an attempt to put to rest once and for all the argument over whether or not the vegetarian lifestyle is healthy for your little ones.

 

To start, it is important to point out that no lifestyle, whether vegetarian or otherwise, is going to be healthy unless you make the right food choices.  A carnivorous diet is certainly not healthy when the meat is consumed largely from fast food restaurants, whereas having a small portion of fish every other meal is extremely healthy.  In the same respect, a vegetarian diet is not good for your growing child if it consists solely of green salads and pasta - the pasta packs a whopping does of carbs and calories, and a plain green salad is very low in nutrients and high in water content, which can leave your child vitamin-deprived unless mixed fresh vegetables are added to the salad. 

 

One of the key points used against recommending the vegetarian diet to children is that it's hard to consume enough protein without eating meat. Children need protein to grow and stay healthy, but if you do your research and be sure that in place of meat, your child eats a similar portion sized amount of protein-packed nuts, grains and legumes, you may find that this is a suitable replacement.

 

It is also important to realize that eggs and dairy products are great sources of protein and calcium (needed for your child's bone development), and that even legumes offer enough protein to keep your child healthy.  Peanut butter, yogurt, and many other vegetarian products offer sufficient protein to help you ensure your children’s nutrition without the need to offer meat at each meal. 

 

Taking the time to learn the nutritional facts of whatever food you're eating regularly is essential to making sure your child is receiving correct nutrition, and that it is true for vegetarians as well.  A vegetarian diet can absolutely be healthy for kids, and with the right choices, it can actually help keep them healthier than their meat-eating friends.

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