“Doctor, My child has become more conscious that animals must be killed in order to obtain meat, and that knowledge has prompt her to choose a vegetarian diet. What should I do?”
Congratulations. You have a consciences child. Celebrate it.
There are various degrees of vegetarianism, and the strictness of the diet will determine whether your youngster is vulnerable to nutritional shortcomings. Vegetarian diets tend to be high in fiber and polyunsaturated fat, and low in cholesterol and calories.
· Vegetarians sometimes consume insufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D if they remove milk products from their diet.
· Also, because of the lack of meat products, vegetarians sometimes have an inadequate iron intake. They may also consume insufficient amounts of vitamin B-12, zinc, and other minerals.
· Vegetarians may also lack adequate protein sources.
What should you do?
These are only a few excellent foods that can augment the protein, calcium and iron content in vegetarian and vegan diets. Of course, many of these can also be complemented with vitamins and supplements. It is easy to be healthy with a well-rounded vegan or vegetarian diet.
Vegetarian Protein Sources: Nuts, soy products (tofu, tempeh, miso, soy milk, edamame), seeds and sprouts, grains (quinoa, amaranth), beans and legumes. For vegetarians, dairy and eggs prove to be excellent sources of protein as well.
Vegetarian Iron Sources: Bean and legumes such as lima beans, soybeans and kidney beans, bread, broccoli, dates, molasses, peas, rice, pasta, spinach, vitamin supplements, nuts and seeds such as almonds and Brazil nuts, dried fruit like prunes and raisins, kale, asparagus.
Vegetarian Calcium Sources: Many spices are surprisingly high in calcium, such as celery seed, dill, poppy, fennel, sesame, cumin, coriander, caraway, anise, mustard, etc. Fresh basil has plenty of calcium. Soybeans and other beans, almonds and peanuts, tofu, arugula, collards and other greens, seaweed, figs, sun-dried tomatoes, peanut butter. For non-vegans, cheese, yogurt, milk and other dairy products can be excellent sources of calcium.
· As a general guideline, her protein intake should come from more than one source, combining cereal products (wheat, rice) with legumes (dry beans, soybeans, peas), for example; when eaten together, they provide a higher quality mixture of amino acids than if either is consumed alone.
· To ensure adequate levels of vitamin B-12, you might serve your child commercially prepared foods fortified with this vitamin.
· While calcium is present in some vegetables, your child may still need a calcium supplement if he does not consume milk and other dairy products.
· Alternative sources of vitamin D might also be advisable if there is no milk in the diet.
· Your pediatrician may recommend iron supplements, too, although your child can improve his absorption of the iron in vegetables by drinking citrus juice at mealtime.