In simple terms, a vegetarian is one who restrains himself from eating foods derived from animals. There are further subcategories of vegetarians, which are:
- Lacto vegetarians: This vegetarian family does not eat meat in any form, but they are comfortable drinking milk and eating other milk products such as cheese.
- Ovo vegetarians: This vegetarian family does not eat meat also, the only animal product in their diet is the poultry egg.
- Lacto-Ovo vegetarians: This vegetarian family also would not eat meat, but they are comfortable with dairy milk and its products and in also with the poultry egg in their diet.
- Vegan: These are the strict vegetarians who would not eat any animal product under no circumstances. They do not drink milk nor do they have poultry egg in their diet plan, their diet is strictly on plants.
In view of these facts, it is imperative to know how much nutrients you will be getting in a vegetarian diet. Meats, milk, and eggs provide the necessary nutrient needed in one meal, but for a vegan that is looking to restrain from animal food, there would have to be a combination of different meals to make one nutritionally complete dish. Knowing this, it is imperative to have an idea of the nutritional constituents of every meal you are looking to have, knowledge of this would help in choosing the right meals in order to maintain a balanced diet for a healthy lifestyle.
Depending on the diet plan of a vegetarian family, the children may be losing out on certain minerals that are key to their growth, physical strength and mental wellbeing. This is because plants do not possess all the necessary nutrients required by man, and so to get the complete nutrients one has to combine a number of these plants together to get a balanced diet.
For example, Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin for infants, where a deficiency of vitamin B12 in the breast milk the child feeds on could cause a brain damage to the child. This vitamin is found mainly in meats, milk, cheese, eggs, basically all animal products. Hence as a breastfeeding vegetarian, it is necessary to talk to a dietician to know the right vitamin supplements or mineral supplements you may need to take for the well-being of your infant child.
To ensure a growing child has no deficiency in nutrient as a vegetarian, their diet must include:
- The important Mineral Iron to prevent anemia, this mineral is usually found in animal based foods and substances which help in transporting oxygen in the blood. The iron found in plants cannot perform such functions and so you can get the useful iron (Haem) from mineral supplements. Consult your dietician for the right one to use.
- The vitamin B12, as explained earlier this vitamin is rather important for the healthy development of infants.
- Sources of protein such as nuts, legumes, and beans.
- Energy from suitable fats from sources other than animals such as olive oil and avocados.
- A healthy dose of calcium is also required in the kid’s diet plan for strong bones and teeth.
For the best vegan food combination for kids, contact your dietician or physician as the case may be. Do not leave any stone unturned when it comes to taking care of your children.