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smith-10 - Vegetarianism & Children Fact Sheet (source:...

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Vegetarianism & Children Fact Sheet (source: www.kidshealth.com ) As vegetarianism becomes more prevalent and popular, many parents may wonder if kids can safely follow a vegetarian diet and still get all the nutrients necessary for growing up healthy and strong. Avoiding meat may sound like a bad idea, but most dietary and medical experts agree that a well-planned vegetarian diet can actually be a very healthy way to eat. Of course, special care must be taken when feeding kids and teens a vegetarian diet, especially if it doesn't include dairy and egg products. And as with any diet, you'll need to not only ensure that your child is getting enough of all the necessary nutrients, but understand that the nutritional needs of children change as they grow. Types of Vegetarian Diets Before your child or family switches to a vegetarian diet, it's important to note that all vegetarian diets are not alike. Some of the major vegetarian categories include: ovo-vegetarian - eats eggs; no meat lacto-ovo vegetarian - eats dairy and egg products; no meat lacto-vegetarian - eats dairy products; no eggs or meat vegan - eats only food from plant sources Many people who call themselves vegetarians are actually semi-vegetarians. They may have eliminated red meat, but may eat poultry or fish. The Choice of Vegetarianism There are many reasons why children or families may follow a vegetarian diet. Younger vegetarians are usually part of a family that eats vegetarian meals for health or other reasons. Older children may decide to become vegetarians because of concern for animals, the environment, or their own health. In most cases, you shouldn't be alarmed if your child chooses vegetarianism. The best way to handle your child's choice is to discuss what it means to him or her and how he or she wants to implement it - making sure your child makes healthy and nutritious food choices. Making Sure It's Nutritious Vegetarian parents should give their children a variety of foods that provide enough calories and nutrients to enable them to grow normally. The majority of pediatric experts say a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet (eating dairy products and eggs, but no meat) is a healthy choice for most children (although allergists suggest not introducing eggs until after 1 year of age). Offering young children a diet filled with a variety of fruits,
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smith-10 - Vegetarianism & Children Fact Sheet (source:...

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