Your child can have a good diet while being a vegetarian, just follow a few principles to get all the nutrients he needs to grow up he althy.
What is vegetarianism?
A vegetarian diet primarily means not eating animal flesh, but some also choose not to eat any foods that come from animals, such as dairy products and eggs. There are therefore several forms of vegetarianism.
- Vegan: does not eat any foods of animal origin, so no meat, fish, poultry, eggs or dairy products.
- Lactovegetarian: no foods of animal origin, allows dairy products, but not eggs.
- Ovovegetarian: no foods of animal origin, allows eggs, but not dairy products.
- Ovo-lacto-vegetarian: no meat, no fish, no poultry, but allows eggs and dairy products.
Are there any risks for the child?
We understand that the more extensive the restrictions – no meat, no eggs, no dairy products – the greater the risk of suffering from a nutritional deficiency. A significant nutritional deficiency can lead to growth and development delays. Deficiencies in iron, protein, various vitamins and especially energy are the challenges you will have to face as a parent. If you offer eggs and dairy products, the risk of dietary deficiencies will be reduced.
As with all babies, breastfeeding remains the best source of nutrition for at least the first six months of life. However, vegetarian mothers must ensure that they have a balanced diet so that baby receives all the nutrients he needs, especially proteins, calcium, iron and vitamin B12.
If you opt for commercial formulas, choose a milk- or soy-based formula fortified with vitamin D and vitamin B12, as well as an iron supplement.
6 months and over
In addition to milk, which should remain their main food during their first year of life, vegetarian babies will eat the same vegetables, fruits and cereals as other babies, but they will have to be offered other foods to replace the sources of protein and iron such as meat, fish, poultry and sometimes dairy products.
Nutrients for the Vegetarian Child
ProteinsAs they are essential for his development and for him to have energy to spare, it is important that hisdaily diet contains plant-based proteins, such as legumes, cheese and yogurt (depending on vegetarian family type), tofu, soy, nuts and seeds.
CalciumDairy products and fortified soy products are good sources of calcium. Dark green leafy vegetables, salmon with bones and legumes are also sources of calcium.
Vitamin DInfant formulas made from cow's milk or soy and milk are fortified with vitamin D. Fish, yolks egg noodles and margarine also contain vitamin D.
Vitamin B12Vitamin B12 is only found in fortified or animal foods. It is found in breast milk, infant formula, dairy products and eggs. Tofu, infant cereals, breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast often contain this vitamin. Read labels carefully! Vitamin B12 must be present in his diet.
IronThe iron needs of vegetarians are higher than those of non-vegetarians because the body does not absorb iron well from plant origin. By combining foods rich in vitamin C (citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi, etc.) with foods rich in iron (legumes, tofu, etc.), the iron will be better absorbed.