Quite a lot of people adhere to the principles of a vegetarian diet. But what if there are children in a vegetarian family? Is it possible for them to eat like their parents, or is the child's body still not adapted to eating exclusively plant foods? Let's try to figure it out.
First you need to understand what kind of vegetarianism we are talking about. The strictest in this respect can be called a vegan raw food diet, which implies a complete rejection not only of food of animal origin, but also of the heat treatment of products.
Vegans do not eat meat, fish, milk and eggs at all, only occasionally allow themselves honey. Adherents of ovo-vegetarianism can eat both honey and eggs, but not milk, meat and fish. Lacto-vegetarians eat honey and milk, but refuse meat and eggs. Finally, ovo-lacto-vegetarianism is the most benign in this regard, since it excludes meat, fish and seafood from the diet, but allows milk, eggs and honey.
Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
It is impossible not to agree with vegetarians that there is not much benefit from industrially grown meat for a person. Animal production accounts for about half of all antibiotics produced in the world. They are used preventively – to prevent diseases. In addition, growth stimulants, including hormonal preparations, are actively used in animal husbandry. This has not been a secret to anyone for a long time.
Of course, not everyone is able to raise animals and poultry on their own, or at least buy them from trusted farms. As for fish, its environmental friendliness is doubtful – even ocean and sea fish can accumulate toxins and other harmful substances in themselves.
Vegetarians believe that people eat 10 times more protein than they really need. Vegetables and fruits contain a huge amount of vitamins, trace elements and fiber, which fully covers human needs.
It is interesting that vegetarian children are almost never obese, while this problem is becoming more and more relevant for their peers who eat regular food.
Natural and healthy products improve the baby's digestion and strengthen his immunity. It is believed that vegetarian children are less likely to get colds and cases of food allergies are extremely rare. All these advantages of a vegetarian diet, of course, deserve a fairly close study.
Very often, young children simply do not want to eat meat – most parents face such a problem sooner or later. The kid refuses chicken, meatballs or cutlets, but is always ready to eat porridge, yogurt and fruit. Doesn't this mean that all children are originally vegetarians, and parents only instill in them their eating habits?
It is quite tempting to go along with the baby, providing him with a healthy vegetarian diet, and forget about colic, indigestion and allergies. But doctors say: everything is not as simple as it seems.
Vegetarianism is a deficiency of protein, iron and vitamins
And here it is difficult to argue with science. It is proteins that are the "bricks" for the construction of the child's body. Vegetarians try to compensate for the lack of animal protein with vegetable, in particular, legumes, but this is quite difficult. A growing body needs a lot of protein, for example, a baby aged one to three years needs 4-4,5 grams of protein per 1 kg of weight daily from food.
It is animal proteins that have the highest digestibility – up to 90%. Thus, if a particular type of vegetarianism prohibits the consumption of not only meat, but also dairy products, eggs, this is fraught with very negative consequences for the child. Parents completely deprive him of the source of animal protein.
The second problem that can be encountered on the way to a healthy lifestyle for a child is iron deficiency, the main source of which is not berries and fruits at all, but all the same meat. Quite often, vegetarian children have an insufficient level of hemoglobin.
The third problem is the deficiency of vitamin B12, which is indispensable for the normal functioning of the nervous and circulatory systems of the child's body. Vitamin B12 is practically absent in plant foods.
Finally, it will take a lot of plant foods to compensate for the deficiency of calcium and zinc – there are much more of them in meat, fish and dairy products than in fruits and vegetables.
Which way to choose?
Parents should remember that they, in fact, do not give a choice to their children – the kids are forced to eat exactly the food that mom and dad provided them. In addition, it must be taken into account that a vegetarian diet is not offered in a kindergarten or school, which means that certain nutritional problems will arise.
All these issues can, of course, be solved. But if parents are firmly convinced that the harm from meat and fish is much more than good, you need to approach the preparation of the children's diet carefully, having studied all the recommendations of experts. Meals should be varied, include various dishes – soups, cereals and casseroles. And doctors strongly do not recommend removing dairy, sour-milk products and eggs from the child's diet – in the absence of meat and fish in the menu, they become the only available source of animal protein for a growing organism.
When the child grows up, he will be able to independently choose the style of nutrition, understanding the philosophy of vegetarianism and comprehending it. In other cases, children's vegetarianism is always the choice of parents, and therefore their responsibility.