Can a child be a vegetarian?
As part of preparing material about vegetarian children, the editors of the Live portal invited me to answer several questions that often confused parents. Here is what I said.
Live: Is vegetarianism safe for the baby?
Me: To begin with, vegetarianism does not equal healthy eating. This must be understood. Indeed, for example, pasta with tomato sauce, pizza and cola, fruit juice with donuts – this is plant food, that is, formally vegetarianism, but such a diet can not be called useful. Therefore, propaganda of vegetarianism without specifying that it is based on whole plant products is not possible.
Next: vegetarianism has varying degrees, from extreme veganism to a diet that allows eggs, milk, and derivative foods like cheese. This most “relaxed” form of vegetarianism is able to supply a person with animal protein in an amount greater than what is needed for health.
Not only children and adolescents under 18 years of age, but everyone, regardless of age, simply need to abandon industrially processed and refined products (it does not matter, plant or animal origin). Or at least minimize their consumption. Such products contain a lot of ingredients unsafe for health: enhancers of taste, color, odor, trans fats, sweeteners (they are not “useful” in principle, even organic coconut sugar is added sugar anyway, and sugar is dangerous), etc.
If we talk about whole, unrefined products (vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, cereals, butter, milk, eggs and even meat), then you need to choose the highest quality available. What I mean. If your store sells organic plants – choose them. If you trust a familiar farm, choose products from this farm. If you have a garden – try to grow food there and stock up for the winter. If you live in a country where there is a choice between Australian carrots or Chinese (as I had in Singapore), choose Australian: in this country, agricultural standards are much higher than Chinese. Etc.
Live: How to make a child a vegetarian? Situation: Vegetarian parents want the child to share their views. What is the action plan?
Me: Each child is individual, but as a rule, children, especially before the age of teenagers, copy their parents: if you stop eating meat, then the child will most likely switch to a family diet. Although there are people who simply can not live without meat.
Instead of fighting not for life but for death with the choice of your child, try to protect him by buying and cooking at home the highest quality meat. Not semi-finished products, sausages and sausage (these products are dangerous regardless of whether you think the meat is useful or harmful, because in principle it is not meat), but a whole piece from a good producer who grew an animal without growth hormones, did not abuse antibiotics, did not feed dubious feed. This is the first. And secondly, even if the child cannot completely refuse meat, reduce its amount. Most people eat much more protein than is required for health, and often even as much as harm to their health.
Live: How to build a menu for children who do not eat meat and eggs
Me: The main rule (in addition to the quality of the products) is diversity. If you or your child have refused animal food and switched to fruits and pasta, this is not a healthy diet. The plant diet is very rich: legumes (beans, lentils, peas), cereals (wild rice, buckwheat, millet), pseudocereals (quinoa, amaranth), root crops (potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots), a huge number of types of cabbage (white, red-headed , Brussels, Chinese, Savoy, broccoli, colored), other vegetables, herbs, nuts, fruits …
Each plant contains a unique set of vitamins and minerals, so the more varied your nutrition (even in color!), The more nutrients you get.
Live: Is it possible to get enough essential amino acids without eating meat
Me: Of course you can! For this, there are not only eggs, fish, cheese, but also vegetable sources of protein, such as legumes, buckwheat and quinoa. Read more about plant sources of protein at this link.
Live: If a child initially (from the moment of feeding) refuses meat …
Me: It’s okay that the child does not want meat, no. As in the reverse situation. The task of parents is to provide a diverse diet of whole and highest quality products. Eating meat in the diet or it is based on other sources of protein is not so important.