Plant-based diets are becoming much popular these days and many parents are starting to wonder if these diets are good for their children. According to many dieticians and nutrition experts, plant-based diets are good for children. Both vegan and vegetarian diets can ensure nutrition for people of any age group and with the rise in popularity of plant-based meat, it is easier than ever to make these choices.
Do Children Need Meat To Ensure Protein?
Many studies show that most Americans eat more protein than what is actually needed by their bodies to be healthy. We get protein from foods other than meat and many of us are not aware of the same. We can have protein from beans, dairy, tofu, whole grains, eggs, nuts and many more food items. This means that kids who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet will be able to find sources of protein other than meat and meet the required daily values without any problem.
Minerals And Vitamins Essential For Healthy Meal Prep
Having a variety of food items in your plant-based diet plan will help ensure the necessary minerals and vitamins. This means that you should include different types of vegetables, fruits and grains in the diet of your kids to ensure proper nutrition for them. If your child is a selective eater, you can talk to your healthcare provider about ensuring their nutrition and giving them multivitamins. Some of the nutrients that the usual plant-based food items may lack and examples of food with these nutrients that are not meat are discussed below.
This is an important vitamin that our body requires and is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and ensuring brain function. For kids following lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets, having dairy products like milk and cheese or eggs can ensure proper intake of vitamin B12. As most plant-based foods are not fortified with vitamin B12, it will be a good idea to give vitamin B12 supplements to children following vegan diet plans, as the vitamin is naturally present only in dairy products and meat.
We might remember being told to drink milk so that our bones can be strong. This is because milk and dairy products are some of the great sources of calcium, a mineral that is very important for the proper development of bones. The mineral calcium is also necessary for ensuring the proper health of the heart and nerve function. There are many plant-based food items that are rich in calcium and some of them are beans, dark leafy green vegetables, fortified nuts and cereals, or soy milk.
This macronutrient is essential to build and repair the tissues of the body and for the production of various enzymes and hormones necessary for ensuring the proper functioning of the body. Aside from carbohydrates and fats, proteins are also a great source of energy. There are many sources of meatless protein that you can include in your plant-based diet plans. Some of them are nuts and nut butter, legumes, seeds like chia seeds and sunflower, peas, soy products and whole grains like quinoa.
Iron is a nutrient that is essential to ensure the proper movement of oxygen from the lungs to all other parts of the body. Iron plays an important role in the production of hemoglobin present in the blood that transports oxygen to various parts of the body. Many people believe that red meats like beef are the only sources of iron. However, that is not true. Iron can also be found in plant food items like fortified cereals, chickpeas, soy and dark green vegetables.
Zinc is a mineral that is essential for the normal growth and functioning of the body. Moreover, it is required for ensuring a proper immune system functioning. Plant-based foods like seeds, whole grains, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals, legumes, and soy products are some of the great sources of zinc that you can include in the diet of your child.
Safely Switching To A Plant-Based Diet
If your child or any member of your family is considering moving to a plant-based diet, always remember that it does not have to happen overnight or that the change does not have to be all or nothing. You may just swap a few meals in a week with plant-based food items. This move will help familiarize your family and kids with the new ingredients and plant-based recipes. Always remember that eating less dairy and meat products will be beneficial to the whole family, regardless of whether your family wishes to avoid animal or meat products completely.
If you have questions about the eating habits or the diet of your children, you can talk to the doctor or book an appointment with a pediatric dietician. The professional will be able to help you more in this regard.