More than 8 percent of people report that they follow a vegetarian diet.
Raising vegetarian or vegan children can be a rewarding journey but comes with unique challenges. What’s one of the most crucial aspects of ensuring the health of vegetarian and vegan kids? It’s providing them with a well-balanced diet that meets all their nutritional needs.
Do you need help making informed choices when feeding your vegetarian or vegan children? Read on to unpack some essential guidelines and get meal ideas.
Why Is a Balanced Diet Important for Vegetarian and Vegan Children?
A balanced diet is vital for children’s growth and development, which also holds true for vegetarian and vegan kids. These dietary choices offer countless health benefits. They can also lack some essential nutrients if not planned with care.
Parents can ensure their children get enough protein by including plant-based protein foods. This can include the following:
- Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas)
Calcium is also crucial for bones. Some options include the following:
- Fortified plant-based milk (almond, soy, rice, oat)
- Leafy greens (kale and collard greens)
- Fortified cereals
- Calcium-set tofu
Iron is necessary for healthy blood. Include these foods:
- Fortified cereals
Consider serving a colorful salad with beans and citrus fruits for added iron absorption.
Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid
Vegan children need a reliable source of this vitamin. Consult a healthcare provider for vitamin B12 supplementation recommendations. You can also include these foods:
Getting enough sunlight each day is a natural source of vitamin D. You can also choose these foods:
- Fortified plant-based milk
- Orange juice
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are paramount for brain development. Here are some rich sources:
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
Vegetarian and Vegan Meals for Kids
Now, let’s explore some ideas for vegan, kid-friendly meals to ensure your children get all the necessary nutrients while enjoying their food.
Here are some vegan lunch ideas for kids:
- Peanut butter and banana sandwiches on whole-grain bread
- Veggie wraps with hummus and colorful vegetables
- Lentil soup with whole-grain crackers
You can’t forget about snacks! Here are some vegan snacks for kids:
- Sliced apples with almond butter
- Baby carrots with guacamole
- Air-popped popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast
- Fruit smoothies with fortified plant-based milk and a handful of spinach
Feeding picky toddlers can also be tricky. Here are some brilliant vegan toddler meals:
- Mini veggie pancakes made from grated zucchini and carrots
- Tofu cubes with a mild dipping sauce
- Sweet potato fries baked with a touch of olive oil
- Rice and beans with diced avocado and a squeeze of lime
Nourishing Vegetarian and Vegan Children Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
Raising vegetarian or vegan children can be a fulfilling experience when you prioritize a balanced diet. Using this guide and keeping up with pediatrician visits will give you peace of mind that they’re flourishing.
Do you need a pediatrician in Boise or Meridian? Contact Thrive Pediatrics to book your visit with us.