Kids Can Be Vegetarian Too
Kids Can Be Vegetarian Too
Many people think that the vegetarian diet can only be lived by adults. In fact, children can also you know to be vegetarian. However, parents must ensure that all the nutritional needs of children are met, so that children avoid the risk of malnutrition.
A vegetarian diet is a diet that avoids meat, fish and poultry. Many experts agree that this diet can provide health benefits. However, this diet is also at risk of causing nutritional deficiencies.
Malnutrition in children is something that has a negative impact on their health and intelligence, both in the short and long term. So, if you want to apply a vegetarian diet to your little one, make sure you know very well what nutritional needs you should pay attention to.
Types of Vegetarian Diet
Previously, you need to know the eating rules for certain types of vegetarian diets, including:
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian, which is a diet that does not eat meat, poultry, or fish, but eats eggs, milk, and dairy products
- Lacto-vegetarian, which is a diet that does not consume meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, but still consumes dairy products
- Ovo-vegetarian, which is a diet that does not consume meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products, but still eats eggs
- Vegan, which is a diet that only consumes plant products and does not consume animal products at all, including eggs and dairy products
Apart from the above, sometimes there is also the term semi-vegetarian, which means no red meat consumption, but you can still eat poultry or fish curd.
Nutritional Intakes to Pay Attention to in Vegetarian Children
Based on age group, here are some nutritional intakes that must be considered when implementing a vegetarian diet in children:
In the first 6 months, the main source of nutrition and protein for babies is breast milk or formula. If you follow a vegan diet, you run the risk of a lack of protein, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, which are usually mostly obtained from meat and dairy.
Because your little one gets nutrients from the mother, he is also at risk of lacking these nutrients. So, make sure you consume enough protein, vitamin B12 and vitamin D during breastfeeding. If necessary, meet this need using supplements.
If not exclusively breastfed, babies who are on a vegetarian diet can consume soy-based formula. Choose soy milk that has been fortified with vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
After turning 6 months old and starting to consume complementary foods, make sure that vegetarian babies are also at risk for some nutritional deficiencies, including:
- Protein, which can be obtained from tofu porridge, cheese, yogurt, and nuts
- Vitamin B12, which can be obtained from soy milk fortified with vitamin B12
- Iron, which can be obtained from legumes, legumes, and tofu
- Iodine, which can be obtained from wheat, rice, and oats
Toddler (under 3 years)
Toddlers are notoriously picky about what food will go into their mouths. The risk is that the calorie and nutritional intake of toddlers with a vegetarian diet is more prone to not being fulfilled.
Meanwhile, toddlers are required to meet the intake of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and zinc. So, it is important for parents to serve a variety of vegetarian foods with these ingredients.
Some examples of foods that are recommended for vegetarian toddlers are vegetables, potatoes, beans, and fortified cereals. Vitamin supplements may be recommended for children who find it difficult to meet nutrients from food, for example because they are lazy to eat.
Preteens and teens
If done right, a meat-free diet is actually beneficial for preteens and teens. Even so, this must also be done while paying attention to the intake of needed nutrients, such as iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
If you really want to apply a vegetarian diet to your child, a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet is a better choice for preteens and teens. This is because children's calorie and protein needs also increase in their teens.
Some examples of foods that are recommended for vegetarian preteens and teens include green vegetables, beans, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products.
Risk of Malnutrition in Vegetarian Children
A well-planned vegetarian diet can still provide nutrition for children. However, as has been repeatedly mentioned above, this diet does have many risks, ranging from iron deficiency, vitamin C, vitamin D, to the worst is kwashiorkor or chronic lack of energy.
When this happens, these risks can interfere with the physical and brain development of the Little One. As a result, he became a weaker child, easily sick, and not bright, either intellectually or emotionally.
Therefore, it is important for mothers and fathers to consider as well as possible before actually applying this diet to their little one. If necessary, consult a doctor about the pros and cons if this diet is applied.
In addition, don't forget to regularly check the nutritional status and health condition of your little one to the doctor, to ensure optimal growth and development.
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