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Vegetarianism and Children

Vegetarianism is a popular choice for many individuals and families. But parents may wonder if kids can safely follow a vegetarian diet and still get all necessary nutrients. Most dietary and medical experts agree that a well-planned vegetarian diet can actually be a very healthy way to eat.

But special care must be taken when serving kids and teens a vegetarian diet, especially if it doesn't include dairy and egg products. And as with any diet, you'll need to understand that the nutritional needs of kids change as they grow.

Types of Vegetarian Diets

Before your child or family switches to a vegetarian diet, it's important to note that all vegetarian diets are not alike. Major vegetarian categories include:

  • ovo-vegetarian: eats eggs; no meat
  • lacto-ovo vegetarian: eats dairy and egg products; no meat
  • lacto-vegetarian: eats dairy products; no eggs or meat
  • vegan: eats only food from plant sources

And many other people are semi-vegetarians who have eliminated red meat, but may eat poultry or fish.

The Choice of Vegetarianism

Kids or families may follow a vegetarian diet for a variety of reasons. Younger vegetarians are usually part of a family that eats vegetarian meals for health, cultural, or other reasons. Older kids may decide to become vegetarians because of concern for animals, the environment, or their own health.

In most cases, you shouldn't be alarmed if your child chooses vegetarianism. Discuss what it means and how to implement it, ensuring your child makes healthy and nutritious food choices.

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