In the meantime, it has clearly arrived in our zeitgeist that a meatless diet has many great advantages - for us and our environment. For example, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 30 percent.
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Now you are probably asking yourself: “Should I feed my child vegetarian or not? Does it get all the nutrients it needs?”
The questions you are asking yourself are all perfectly valid. After all, you don't want to harm your offspring in the most important years of development.
It is also understandable that if you eat vegetarian food and have good experiences with this type of diet, you would want to share it with your child. But sometimes it also happens that children say they don't want to eat meat anymore because they realize that they are eating dead animals.
As mentioned earlier, there is nothing new about the benefits and health of a vegetarian diet. This is also proven by numerous studies.
But how can this knowledge be transferred to children? Can you infer children from an adult? Does vegetarianism even lead to nutrient deficiencies in children? And what about a vegan diet? We'll enlighten you.
In today's blog post, we'll give you some food for thought to help you figure out whether or not it makes sense for you to feed your child a vegetarian diet.
According to the Foundation for Child Health it is perfectly possible to feed children vegetarian, provided they eat enough fruit and vegetables. That means the children do without meat and fish, but milk and eggs are on the menu.
In a study by the German Society for Nutrition (DGE), the nutrient supply studied in children who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. It turned out that the vegetarians as well as the vegans sufficient with the basic nutrients, minerals and vitamins were supplied.
However, the DGE also says that the study is unfortunately not representative, i.e. the results cannot be transferred to all children and adolescents . This is because there seems to be too little up-to-date data on the subject of "nutrition and health status" for example vegan nutrition in children. The DGE therefore advises against this type of nutrition! Contrasted with vegetarianism - which society supports.
It doesn't matter whether you're vegan or vegetarian - in the end it's all about having healthy and varied meals in your family. I know it's not always easy to feed your child healthily: Some children have certain, one-sided preferences and, above all, a dislike for everything that is green.
If, for example, you don't pack any fish or meat in the lunch box for the kindergarten, it is clear that an unbalanced diet can quickly develop and the risk of nutrient deficiency increases.
You should be aware that the more food groups you exclude from your diet, the risk of malnutrition and the resulting deficiency symptoms can increase.The same also applies to one-sided eating by non-vegetarians
Therefore, we advise you: the more colorful the meal for daycare or school, the better.
Vegetarian = Healthy?
No, let's start with that. There is always a risk that your child will become a so-called “pudding vegetarian”. That means toast, fries and sweets - vegetarian but anything but healthy.
That's why it's so important to give your child a balanced diet, especially during the growth phase. The Nutrition Commission of the German Society for Child and Adolescent Medicine e. V. (DGKJ) says that “because of their significantly higher nutrient requirement per kilogram compared to an adult, children who are vegetarian diet body weight, an increased risk of malnutrition”.
The most important nutrients that we give you and your child are iron, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamin B12.
In this older blog post we present you exactly which nutritional values are responsible for which function in the body. Feel free to stop by!
Tips and tricks for a vegetarian diet
- The "must-haves" in the vegetarian lunch box or kitchen at home are definitely a good amount of vegetables, whole grain and legumes
. It is best to combine these with nuts and seeds - and you already have all high-quality fats with all the important nutrients.
- In order to avoid an unbalanced diet, it is particularly important to always have a large selection of food at home.
- Regardless of whether you decide to feed your child a vegetarian diet or not: you have a good chance that your offspring will not become a picky eater if you let them try different things from an early age. In this way you increase the chances that broccoli, lentils or beetroot will be eaten without much skepticism. Tip: You have even better chances if you hide the ingredients in different dishes and shapes.
- Five units or portions of fruit and vegetables a day are perfect. Fruit can also be in the form of freshly squeezed juice.
- Do not use refined oils! Rapeseed and walnut oil, for example, is good because it contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids
- Be careful with meat substitutes, as they often contain unhealthy additives.
- Feel free to talk to your trusted pediatrician about your child's vegetarian diet. If you are already there, you can have a few values measured on your child. Iron, zinc, vitamin D and vitamin B12 are important here.
Vegetarian diet for babies?
During the baby's growth phase, you should make sure that it gets all the nutrients it needs. If there is a deficiency here, for example of iron, zinc or vitamin B12, brain development and growth are definitely at risk.
As an alternative to meat, dishes such as a vegetable-potato-cereal mash are suitable. You should definitely add fruit for the vitamin C supply, so you increase the absorption of iron from the grain.
Soy products are not recommended. The now very popular bean contains so-called phytoestrogens.These are similar to the female hormone estrogen. This can result in allergies in children.
"I choose to be vegetarian."
If you have now decided on a vegetarian diet, we will give you three more important arguments to take with you.
Topic Health: Many studies now show that a vegetarian diet has a positive effect on health. Vegetarian food usually has less energy and therefore also calories, almost no saturated fatty acids,
animal proteins and cholesterol. Other advantages are that vegetarians eat more fiber (good for the gastrointestinal tract!) and plant substances. Furthermore, people with this diet are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, heart and vascular diseases and obesity.
- Topic Climate: By now everyone knows: it's almost twelve o'clock when it comes to our climate. With more vegetables you protect the environment! A study from the USA shows: If all people on earth ate a meatless diet, the dangerous greenhouse gases that are attempted through animal husbandry would decrease by 63 percent can be minimized.
- Topic Animals: Sure, you still have animal content in products like milk or cheese - but not as much as in fish and meat. When it comes to milk and eggs, you should therefore definitely pay attention to organic quality.