A vegetarian diet for kids is much more likely to of benefit than it is to harm them. Here are some of the many advantages of a healthy vegetarian diet:
- Vegetarian children are generally more nutritionally aware than others. Most of our eating habits are learned in childhood, so the healthy lifestyle they are exposed to as kids should stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.
- Generally, vegetarian kids are likely to be more open to trying a variety of foods and will tend to eat more healthy options overall than non-vegetarians.
- They will have less exposure to the hormones and other chemicals that animals destined for eating are given. Pollutants tend to concentrate in fatty tissues, whereas they can usually be washed from plant foods, so eating a vegetarian diet can be safer from these.
- There is less danger of food poisoning and food borne illnesses from plant foods than from meat, poultry and seafood.
- Plant foods contain more fibre than animal foods, which is good for digestive health.
- Vegetarians are also much less likely to be overweight.
In addition, vegetarians are less likely to suffer from some of the diseases that the Western diet leads to in later life:
- There are less incidences of cancer in vegetarians.
- Vegetarians have a lower incidence of nearly all intestinal diseases and discomforts, probably due to the fibre in a plant based diet.
- Plant eaters are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke than animal eaters, most likely due to the low cholesterol and saturated fat, and the high fibre in a vegetarian diet.
- Vegetarians have a much lower risk of getting diabetes.
So they really are building a healthy foundation for later on too!
Of course, this assumes that they are eating a nutritionally balanced vegetarian diet, not living on pizzas and chips! To make sure your vegetarian child is getting all the nutrients they need, take a look at our guide to a vegetarian diet for kids at different stages.