Please be aware that I am not a qualified nutritionist or doctor, so the information on these pages is based on my own research in books and online. If you have particular concerns about your children’s nutrition or suspect a problem (whether they are vegetarian or not) please take them to see someone who is qualified to deal with any issues.
As parents it’s natural to be concerned about the nutrition of your vegetarian children. Kids become vegetarian for a variety of reasons, some based on the parent’s lifestyle, others based on the child’s own beliefs. Whatever the reason it’s perfectly possible to raise healthy and happy vegetarian kids if you take the time to find out a little about their nutritional requirements and put a bit of effort into provided a balanced and varied diet.
In fact, since vegetarian diets are usually high in fibre and low in cholesterol and saturated fats, they are often a lot healthier than the typical diet of many western children and can set them up with good habits for life.
There are different types of vegetarians, and the stricter the diet the more care needs to be taken that the children are getting all the nutrients they need to grow up strong and healthy. Some of the types of vegetarian are:
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians – don’t eat meat but do eat dairy products and eggs
- Lacto-vegetarians – don’t eat meat or eggs but do eat dairy products
- Ovo-vegetarians – don’t consume meat or dairy products but do eat eggs
- Vegans – don’t eat meat, eggs, dairy products or any foods associated with animals, such as honey and gelatine (the strictest form of vegetarian diet).
- Pescatarians – Not considered true vegetarians as they don’t eat red meat or poultry but do eat fish
- Semi-vegetarians (or near-vegetarians) – emphasise a plant based diet and avoid red meat, but do occasionally eat fish or poultry
This website deals with the first four types (i.e the ones that don’t eat meat, fish or poultry) but if your children are pescatarians or semi-vegetarians you will still pick up lots of useful tips.
The following articles deal with the main concerns regarding nutrition for vegetarian children. Hopefully they’ll answer the questions you have without you needing a PhD in nutrition, but if you do like a lot of detail they’ll point you towards more in depth articles or other resources where appropriate.