Vegetarianism for children

Vegetarianism is not something new in the modern world, as its foundations were laid back in antiquity, when people refused animal products for religious or economic reasons.

Over time, the main reason was the fact that it was inhumane to animals. And if at first people preferred to simply refuse meat, now there are movements that do not eat fish, eggs, and even milk.

Usually society is neutral about the fact that adults choose this path for themselves, as this is their conscious decision. However, this is not acceptable for children who are not asked if they want to adhere to an identical point of view, and even if they are against it, they cannot go against the will of their parents.

In the scientific community there is no unequivocal opinion on this issue. It is recommended not to force children to follow the example of their parents. Other points of view are also discussed.

For example, pregnancy should be planned and carried out after the transition to a more traditional diet, or meat should be consumed only during lactation and complementary foods, or after the child reaches school age. There are those who recommend waiting until the baby grows up to at least school age in order to decide on their own. Some psychologists do not recommend limiting meat to teenagers during puberty.

Two sides of the same coin

Studies that relate to vegetarianism for children do not affect situations where parents are categorical and even after the doctor's recommendation they will not change their position. Conclusions can be addressed only to those parents who are ready to listen to the words of experts and, if necessary, agree to revise the child's diet.

Apart from trivial religious and ethnic reasons, as well as the state of health, adults often justify drastic changes in life with the desire to save the life of animals and cite the results of statistical studies, historical references and other related information.

Such views cannot be called large-scale, but they exist in society, but they should be transferred to children with many reservations. Not to mention the fact that animal husbandry was founded and exists to provide an important food chain. Official evidence-based medicine considers this approach problematic, and in some situations dangerous. It is quite reasonable to believe that the conception of a child and subsequent pregnancy should take place with the transition to a classic diet.

In the last decade, studies have been carried out, on the basis of which conclusions are drawn that with the preparation of a competent daily diet, it is possible to provide the body with the necessary levels of vitamins and minerals. But firstly, the key word is “with the right”, because adherents of such a lifestyle, even with many years of experience, invest in this concept formed habits, the economic situation of the family, which often does not agree with the needs of a growing child's body, which needs high-grade proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

Such "experiments" of parents lead to serious metabolic disorders, which manifest themselves in children with a slowdown in mental and physical development. In the latter case, the following deteriorations will be the first warning signs:

  • brittle hair;
  • retarded tooth growth;
  • brittle nails.

The potential harm is not limited to the above symptoms and is unlikely to be outweighed by the arguments of opponents. On three significant benefits of vegetarianism:

  • greater consumption of fruits and vegetables, which meat eaters often lack;
  • lack of risks to increase the level of cholesterol in the blood;
  • leveling the risks of being overweight.

In the latter case, it is more important to ensure that the body mass index does not drop to a critical level. As for the cholesterol item, the benefits of a low cholesterol diet for adults have been questioned, and there is no evidence base for limiting cholesterol for children. It is unlikely that with the help of such an exotic lifestyle it will be possible to produce daily high-quality prevention of diseases, in particular, of the cardiovascular system.

The basics of menu planning

If the above arguments about the dangers of vegetarianism for children did not convince parents who remained adherents of this lifestyle, then they should learn that children the diet should be seriously different from an adult, not only in portions. A growing child needs a diet rich in proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, fats and micronutrients. Otherwise, it is possible to plant immunity in a matter of months and achieve the development of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract without any initial predisposition.

The first thing to note is that nutritionists have approved a diet that uses eggs and all dairy products. Raw food or strict forms of vegetarianism is really harmful for children, which fighters for the health of their offspring will have to put up with.

You should also remember the rule of the food pyramid. This means that with the exclusion of meat and fish, double efforts will have to be made to find energy-rich analogues with a high protein content. This role may be suitable:

  • legumes;
  • seeds;
  • nuts;
  • eggs.
  • ​​

But even here there is a significant limitation. Not all of the above are allowed from the first days of complementary foods, which greatly aggravates the situation. Even relatively safe legumes are initially recommended to be pureed.

The second stumbling block is an acute shortage of vitamin D. This is explained by the fact that not all milk formulas or complementary foods that replace them contain it in the required quantities, so you should pay attention to the composition of the mixture and the content of the vitamin in it, which ensures bone growth and other vital functions.

Among the trace elements that are usually lacking in a growing organism in a special family, iron is the leader. Despite the fact that this microelement is found in vegetables and grains, its amount is much less than the content in meat.

It is also necessary to introduce dishes with a high content of vitamin C in the child's menu :

Foods enriched with ascorbic acid should be given to a child at least twice a day.

In relation to whole grains, which are often a priority for adult vegetarians, they are indeed rich in fiber, but will make you feel full before the required amount of food enters the stomach. As a result, the child often encounters problems such as:

  • bloating;
  • nausea;
  • pain in the abdomen.

Another caveat to using whole grain supplements is blocking the absorption of certain micronutrients due to supersaturation of fiber, including vital ones:

Therefore, nutritionists insist on substituting fortified flour with white rice and even white pasta.

An equally important principle is the rational distribution of fats due to significant energy losses. It is best to use a proven method - to season vegetable salads with vegetable oils. But here another danger arises - various food additives, which, with a cumulative effect, cause an allergic reaction.

Many manuals regarding the "green" format of food say that proteins and carbohydrates should not be mixed in one meal. The common truth also applies to the children's diet. There is only one reason for this - poor digestibility, which is supported by:

  • colic;
  • disorders of the digestive tract;
  • dysbacteriosis.

Against the background of all of the above, one should not forget about diversity, food should be different so as not to depress the child's appetite. In addition, the water balance should be monitored, which should be maintained by regular drinking:

This will diversify the diet, as well as serve as an important source of vitamins and microelements.

Age pattern

Infants fed formula milk or breast milk are the least problematic. In the second case, the mother should have a balanced diet. And in the first one, it is necessary to trace the balanced content of vitamins D and B12.

The following standard list is recommended as a first complete nutritious food:

  • vegetable or fruit purees;
  • bean puree;
  • cheese;
  • yogurt ;
  • special vitamin enriched cereals.

Things are much more complicated with children from one to three. Just at this time they are weaned from the breast or mixture, which significantly increases the risks of deficiency:

  • iron;
  • zinc;
  • proteins.

If you do not pay attention to this aspect, then after a couple of months the therapist will notice a delay in mental or physical development relative to the age norm.

Separately, it is worth paying attention to children who prefer to eat only something specific. Of particular danger to them is a vegetarian diet, the diet of which is much more limited.

The final possible problem segment is kindergarten age. At this stage, the menu of the child is almost no different from the adult. The difference fluctuates only in servings and calories. But not all kindergartens are ready to accommodate vegetarians.

The only exceptions are private institutions, where parents pass food every day with the pupil, or discuss the menu with the chefs in advance. It is better to clarify such a sensitive issue even at a preliminary interview.