A vegetarian diet for children can be a very healthy way to grow up. But if you want to bring your children up as vegetarians, you may encounter criticism or concern that it isn't healthy for them. And if your children tell you that they want to be vegetarians, you may worry that they won't get enough nutrients. But there are many benefits of a vegetarian diet for children …
One of the advantages of a vegetarian diet for children is that it can be excellent for their long-term health. It reduces their risk of health problems like heart disease and diabetes. If it includes lots of prepared and fatty foods then a vegetarian diet can be just as unhealthy as one that includes meat. But if they eat fresh and healthy ingredients then a veggie diet will be very good for them.
A vegetarian diet is very ethical; by not feeding your child animal flesh you're avoiding supporting animal cruelty and raising them in a way that encourages a more ethical way of life. Nor is it 'forcing your views on them' - it's no different in that way from a meat-eater who raises their child eating meat. In fact, it's being kinder to them by encouraging them to avoid a diet that depends on killing animals.
3. Wide Range of Foods
What can a vegetarian child eat? Well, there are plenty of foods for them to try. In fact, it's a great opportunity to experiment and try many of the amazing plant-based foods available. A veggie child will not go short or miss out in any way; if anything, they may experience a far greater range of foods than a child who eats meat.
4. Good Eating Habits
Bring your child up as a vegetarian and you will be helping to get them into good eating habits from an early age. It's harder to change your dietary habits when you're older, so set them on the right path from when they're young.
Following a vegetarian diet means that you are less likely to suffer from obesity and related ailments, so it's a great start for your kids (of course this won't be the case if they eat lots of cookies and other sweet treats!). Considering how serious the obesity crisis is, feeding your child a healthy meat-free diet is giving them a great start in life.
6. Height & Strength
But won't a veggie child be weak and anaemic? No they won't! In fact, some studies suggest that vegetarian children are taller than others who eat meat. And there are some pretty strong athletes who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. It's a question of giving them a wide range of foods so that they get enough of the right nutrients.
7. Dairy Products
Most children need to consume dairy products to give them sufficient calcium. But some may benefit from excluding these and indeed following a vegan diet if they suffer from problems like eczema. Always consult your physician before cutting dairy products from your child's diet, to make sure that they will be getting sufficient nutrients to support their growth.
So if you want to bring your child up as a vegetarian, you can be sure that you're doing everything you can to give them a great start in life. Have you encountered any hostility for being vegetarian?