Choosing to bring up your child as a vegetarian is a positive step towards a healthy and ethically sound diet for your child. Raising vegetarian/vegan children is nothing new: it’s been happening in many cultures for thousands of years! In New Zealand, there are many families choosing a vegetarian lifestyle and producing happy, healthy energetic kiwi kids.
I find that friends and acquaintances are starting to ask me for vegetarian meal ideas. It seems that after observing my family they have come to realise there is no truth behind the myth about vegetarians being weak and slow!
– Tristan mother of Vancouver (5) and Nate (4)
A vegetarian diet puts you in great shape for pregnancy. A well balanced vegetarian diet contains
lots of vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein and all other essential nutrients you need to grow your baby.
Breastfeeding gives the best start! Keep up your healthy vegetarian diet to make the best milk for your baby. Try to get lots of rest, and drink plentiful amounts of water. When older, your baby will love trying vegetarian foods such as banana, kumara, broccoli, puha, tofu, rice, bread etc. By 12 months of age, your baby will be eating, more or less, what the family are eating.
A vegetarian diet is a perfect boost for a growing body. Continue to offer healthy vegetarian foods and lots of water. Talk to your child about your family’s vegetarian values, and encourage them to be aware of which foods are vegetarian so that they can choose appropriate foods when eating with non vegetarians.
Teens have high nutritional needs from 13-19 years when they are experiencing rapid growth and changes. Variety is the key to helping keep up with protein, calcium, iron and B12 needs. Eat well and widely to ensure good nutrient intake and lots of energy.
Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, some cancers: these are just some of the diseases a vegetarian diet can help prevent. Vegetarianism is a valid andsensible choice, giving a great health start for any child and will help maintain a healthy body weight. Vegans and vegetarians eating few dairy products will want to ensure adequate intakes of B12 by either eating B12 fortified foods such as marmite and fortified soya and rice milks or taking B12 supplements.
I am convinced there are no adverse health effects with a well-balanced vegetarian/vegan diet during infancy and childhood, and there is increasing evidence that infant and childhood nutrition can be linked to certain diseases contracted later in life. By providing children with a healthy diet parents are investing in their child’s future health.
– Dr Simon Wynn Thomas: BMedSci, BM, BS, MRCP(UK) MRCGP, FRNZCGP.