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VEGETARIAN

VEGETARIAN

VEGETARIAN

Vegetarianism is a popular choice for many individuals and families. But parents may wonder if kids can safely follow a vegetarian diet and still get all necessary nutrients. Most dietary and medical experts agree that a well-planned vegetarian diet can actually be a very healthy way to eat.

But special care must be taken when serving kids and teens a vegetarian diet, especially if it doesn’t include dairy and egg products. And as with any diet, you’ll need to understand that the nutritional needs of kids change as they grow.

Types of Vegetarian Diets

Before your child or family switches to a vegetarian diet, it’s important to note that all vegetarian diets are not alike. Major vegetarian categories include:
•    lacto-ovo vegetarian: eats no meat, poultry, or fish, but does eat eggs and dairy products (what most of us mean when we say “vegetarian”)
•    lacto-vegetarian: eats no meat, poultry, fish, or eggs, but does eat dairy products
•    ovo-vegetarian: eats no meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products, but does eat eggs
•    vegan: eats only plant-derived foods
And many other people are semi-vegetarians who have eliminated red meat, but may eat poultry or fish.

The Choice of Vegetarianism

Kids or families may follow a vegetarian diet for a variety of reasons. Younger vegetarians are usually part of a family that eats vegetarian meals for health, cultural, or other reasons. Older kids may decide to become vegetarians because of concern for animals, the environment, or their own health.

In most cases, you shouldn’t be alarmed if your child chooses vegetarianism. Discuss what it means and how to implement it, ensuring your child makes healthy and nutritious food choices.

People choose to be vegan for health, environmental, and/or ethical reasons. For example, some vegans feel that one promotes the meat industry by consuming eggs and dairy products. That is, once dairy cows or egg-laying chickens are too old to be productive, they are often sold as meat; and since male calves do not produce milk, they usually are raised for veal or other products. Some people avoid these items because of conditions associated with their production.

Many vegans choose this lifestyle to promote a more humane and caring world. They know they are not perfect, but believe they have a responsibility to try to do their best, while not being judgmental of others.
Vegan Nutrition

The key to a nutritionally sound vegan diet is variety. A healthy and varied vegan diet includes fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Protein

It is very easy for a vegan diet to meet the recommendations for protein as long as calorie intake is adequate. Strict protein planning or combining is not necessary. The key is to eat a varied diet.

Almost all foods except for alcohol, sugar, and fats provide some protein. Vegan sources include: lentils, chickpeas, tofu, peas, peanut butter, soy milk, almonds, spinach, rice, whole wheat bread, potatoes, broccoli, kale…

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