VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN CHILDREN

Food education is essential in the creation of good eating habits. Alejandra Bastarós, a graduate in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Zaragoza and food specialist at the Cook & Chef Institute, looks into healthy eating for us

Photograph of VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN CHILDREN

 

A vegetarian diet consists of consuming food of plant origin, plus animal by-products such as milk, cheese and eggs. Also known as: ovo-lacto vegetarianism.

A vegan diet consists of consuming ONLY food of plant origin. Also known as: strict vegetarianism.

If the vegetarian diet is well designed and balanced, it is not harmful for children. Neither is it especially beneficial.

Children and healthy eating:
The healthiest option is as broad a vegetarian diet as possible in infancy. Accordingly, ovo-lacto vegetarianism includes vegetables alongside milk products (from cows or drinks derived from vegetables, such as soy or almond milk, amongst others) and eggs.
All the main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) must always contain at least one food from each group:


Energy group (foods which provide the child with 'energy'): such as cereals (particularly wholegrain) and derivatives (pasta, bread, biscuits, breakfast cereals), tubers (potato, sweet potato), pulses, olive oil and seeds and dried fruit & nuts.

Structural group (which provide proteins to build up the body, muscles, blood and hair, amongst others): includes cow milk and derivatives (yoghurt, cheese, curds), eggs, cereals and derivatives, and pulses (combining the foods to ensure quality protein intake).

Regulatory group (foods which contain vitamins, minerals and plenty of fibre – regulating bodily functions, such as digestion, respiration and blood flow): particularly all fruit, greens and vegetables, and dried fruit & nuts.

With vegan children, vitamin D supplements are important if a deficiency is noted, or in countries where there is little sunlight every day

 

Alejandra Bastarós
BSc. Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Zaragoza
http://dietista-zaragoza.es