At mealtime, a little girl who is between 3 and 4 years old is sitting in her place, fidgeting. When her mother, with a camera in hand, asks...
At mealtime, a little girl who is between 3 and 4 years old is sitting in her place, fidgeting. When her mother, with a camera in hand, asks her, she expresses herself with confidence and a lot of emotion: « I will not eat animals! They are cute, and I know that sometimes we cook them, but I don't think it's very cute for them. we put them in the oven «.
This true story of an English girl who decides to go vegetarian, you can see it in its entirety in this beautiful video. This specific case is more common than we imagine. The AEPAP (Spanish Association of Pediatrics and Primary Care), was concerned about the exponential increase in children and adolescents assuming meat-free diets and produced a document where it analyzes these nutritional proposals and suggests guidelines to guarantee the nutrition of our little ones, which here we will share with you.
This growing phenomenon of children and adolescents who have chosen to adopt a vegetarian diet requires a lot of attention from parents and educators who are surely wondering: is this type of diet suitable for the little ones? How can the dynamics be adapted to a family if one of our children does not want to consume animal meat ?.
Let's review what some experts say.
If you listen to your son, congratulations!
Some parents are sure that they were born with the superpower of always knowing what is best for their children. They should know that this characteristic does not always make them superheroes.
Giving our children a chance to make a decision like this is wonderful! In this way you make him feel safe, self-controlled, and capable of deciding. If your motivations are the consideration of other living beings, or simply reasons of health or taste, it is just as respectable!
It is always good that you dialogue with your little one and help him get to the bottom of his concern: why do you want to stop consuming meat? Do you know what implications this has for you? Making you aware of the edges of your decision will help you make it harder.
But what is it like to be a vegetarian?
A vegetarian is a person who decides to avoid the consumption of animal meat: beef, pork, chicken, or fish. Those who choose this lifestyle sometimes include dairy and eggs in their diet and are called ovo-lacto-vegetarians.
There is also another option: vegans, who decide to completely avoid any animal product, even if it has not caused suffering to it, focusing on the consumption of vegetables, fruits, and vegetable protein.
If your children want to avoid foods of animal origin, it is suggested that you carry out annual check-ups to verify that they receive the necessary nutrients for their healthy growth, in addition to seeing a nutritionist who endorses the vegan or vegetarian style.
Will our children grow up healthy?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics American, says that any of these diets, if properly planned, " are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases ."
But what will happen in your body without meat? Official data tell us that the amount of animal protein consumed by children is not so great and that even this lifestyle guarantees that they are properly nourished and that they also have a lower body mass index:
“ They tend to consume more fruits, vegetables and legumes, so their intake of fiber, vitamins A, C and E, folate, iron, magnesium, and potassium is usually higher; while the consumption of total calories, saturated fat, protein, vitamins D and B12 and zinc is lower ”, indicate the experts.
One characteristic shared by us and not sure you'd imagined is that " children and adolescents vegetarians and vegans typically consume less sugary drinks and processed foods often ", says a study in Australia that quoted above.
How do you properly plan a vegetarian or vegan diet?
The challenge then is to ensure correct balanced planning of these diets. You will be surprised to know that an omnivorous diet (who eats all kinds of food) or a vegetarian or vegan diet is planned in the same way. So we share some tips with you.
On the Choosemyplate.gov page of the United States Department of Agriculture, they provide us with this simple guide:
It is recommended that one half of the plate offer a variety of fruits and vegetables and in different presentations. The other half will include cereals, protein, and dairy alike. Proteins can be animal or vegetable (legumes, nuts), and dairy can be supplied by calcium-enriched vegetable milk.
The Harvard School of Public Health also suggests a plate of good eating with the same characteristics:
Fruits and vegetables mostly, each food group forming the middle of the plate. A quarter of it will be formed by whole grains and the other by healthy proteins. They go a little further, inviting us to limit the consumption of red meat and to try to ingest healthy plant oils such as olive, peanut, canola, and soy.
The Madrid Association of Pediatrics and Primary Care or AMPAP suggests that:
“ 75% of the diet should be the same for everyone: vegetarians and non-vegetarians: vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The fundamental difference between a vegetarian or vegan diet and another that is not, resides in the remaining 25%: in the first option, the protein sources, instead of meat and fish, will be legumes and nuts (and in the case of ovolactovegetarians, plus small amounts of eggs and dairy). «.
Take special care of the consumption of these foods
If your family already eats vegan or vegetarian food, these are the foods that you should always keep in your diet:
Proteins (In the past, it was believed that animal proteins had a "high caloric value", and vegetable proteins, a low value. Now, it has been proven that this is not the case, and what is suggested is that " we get a good amount of amino acids from various sources on a regular basis «),
Vitamin B12 and vitamin D
Now, you can calmly follow this type of diet, aware that it does not affect the correct nutrition of yours if you know how to handle it. Always consult a doctor or nutritionist before starting a vegan diet for your child. What tip or advice would you add to those indicated here?