As a parent, one of the greatest joys is when your child shows a healthy interest in anything you say; it is gratifying when your little one becomes curious about food and nutrition. A diet is a lifestyle decision that can cater to core beliefs.
Vegetarianism has strong humanitarian and ethical roots. For many parents, teaching and encouraging their children to follow a vegetarian diet makes sense. However, as a parent, you are responsible for providing enough options to fulfill all nutritional needs, which can get tricky when cutting out all animal products.
You do not need to include animal proteins in your little one's diet to ensure they meet micronutrient levels. To ensure your child's diet is balanced, experts recommend following a few straightforward tips.
Provide a Variety of Foods
Many vegetarians have nutrient deficiencies because they do not include enough variety in their diets. When creating a meal plan for you and your child, include various fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds, and soy. The more variety your diet has, the more likely you are to meet all of your nutritional needs.
Also, you and your little one should consider taking vitamins. Vegetarian diets lack vitamin B12, iron, iodine, and other nutrients. A multivitamin like Wellements Organic Multivitamin Gummy can help supplement any lacking nutrients.
Vegetarian Protein Sources
It's no secret that animal products are the best sources of protein. Since vegetarians eliminate animal products from their diets, they need to supplement the loss of protein sources. Thankfully, there are plenty of vegetarian protein options, including:
- Chia seeds
Keep an Eye on Iron & Zinc
Like protein, the best sources of iron and zinc are animal products. Vegetarian sources can still provide enough of each essential mineral, but you need to know where to look. The best foods for iron in a vegetarian diet include:
- Nuts and seeds
- Leafy greens
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate
You can find adequate sources of zinc in many of the above foods. Oats and tofu are also excellent sources of nutrients.
Cooking as a Family
Vegetarianism is about more than health and nutrition. For many people, the diet represents a lifestyle of compassion. Some people become vegetarians to protest animal cruelty, others fight environmental issues, and others want to enjoy a healthy and sustainable life.
Cooking as a family allows you to share your values with your little ones. Explain why you chose the vegetarian lifestyle. Use the meal prep to discuss the advantages of cutting animal products.
Cooking together is an excellent learning and teaching opportunity. It also allows children to ask questions about the diet in a safe and responsive environment.
Supplements for Vegetarian Children
Many children go through a picky eater phase. Even if you do your best to provide balanced vegetarian meals, your little one may only eat some of what you give them.
Because vegetarian diets cut out all animal products and must use other sources to supplement potential nutritional losses, your child likely cannot afford to leave food on their plates. Dietary supplements are often necessary for vegetarian children, especially during a picky phase. Products like Wellements Organic supplements are excellent ways to supplement your little one's diet.
Vegetarianism is a safe and healthy diet for people of all ages, but it requires additional work. The diet calls for eliminating all animal products, making receiving all essential vitamins and minerals more challenging. If you account for nutritional challenges, balancing them with other food sources or supplements, your child and you can enjoy a healthy vegetarian lifestyle.