Is it safe for my kid to follow a vegetarian diet? Where will they get their iron? How about vegan? Where will they get their calcium? As a plant-based RD, these are questions I’m asked about constantly. My short answer is that, with a little extra planning in the beginning, kids and teens can most definitely get all of the nutrition they need from plant foods.
I’m so excited about today’s post because my great friend and fellow registered dietitian, Ginger Hultin, is here today with more details on this important topic. Not only is Ginger an amazing dietitian and nutrition communications expert, but she also just so happens to be Chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition dietetic practice group.
I thought she would be the perfect person to come on to TGG today to provide some great resources and hopefully answer all of your questions about vegan and vegetarian diets for kids. If we don’t answer your question in this post, please feel free to drop us a line in the comments section!
And with that, I’ll hand it over to Ginger!
Many articles offer tips on how to get kids to eat more fruits and veggies but what about kids or families who are either vegetarian and vegan? Can they eat healthy, too? Read on to learn more about Kids Eat Right Vegetarian and Vegan.
As the Chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition dietetic practice group (VNDPG), I get a lot of questions about vegetarian or vegan kids. I wanted to offer you some answers to common questions and FAQs about vegan and vegetarian kids as well as some critical resources from organizations and other dietitians who specialize in plant-based diets for kids. Links are embedded so you can click to learn more!
Kids Eat Right Vegetarian and Vegan: Did you know?
- Teenage vegans have nutritional needs that are the same as any other teenager.
- Non-dairy sources of calcium include tofu processed with calcium sulfate, green leafy vegetables including collard greens, mustard greens, and kale, as well as tahini (sesame butter), fortified soy milk, and fortified orange juice.
- Vitamin C can enhance iron absorption from plant foods.
- According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, plant-based diets may reduce obesity, heart disease, and other health problems.
- You can get enough protein, folate, iron, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, and other nutrients when you’re pregnant on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
- Breast milk or formula is the only food needed from birth until 4-6 months. Vegetarian diets, including lacto-ovo, lacto, or vegan, can meet the needs of older infants.
- A well-balanced vegetarian diet supports healthy growth and development of toddlers and preschoolers.
As fall continues, let me know how you and your family are eating vegetarian or vegan!
Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO is a Registered Dietitian health writer and creator of the blog Champagne Nutrition. She specializes in vegetarian and plant-based diets, integrative/holistic nutrition, oncology nutrition, responsible supplementation, and nutrigenomics. Ginger serves as a Past President for the Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group. She writes regularly for platforms including Food&Nutrition Magazine, Stone Soup Blog and Today’s Dietitian. She is currently taking classes towards her sommelier certificate in her spare time. Read Ginger‘s blog, Champagne Nutrition, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.