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LOOKING for: Can anyone tell me if it's healthy for children

Posted by jolisa (My Page) on
Tue, Feb 20, 07 at 16:59

My son is eight and no longer wants to eat meat. My seven year old has had trouble with anemia in the past and the first question I was asked is are we vegetarian, so is it o.k. for a child to not eat meat? Any good recipes? Iron rich and vegetarian?

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RE: LOOKING for: Can anyone tell me if it's healthy for children

It's ok for children to not eat meat. I know several young adults who have never eaten meat (raised as vegetarians) and they are healthy and strong.

There are so many great recipes. Dried beans are a staple of the vegetarian diet, rich in protein and fiber and other things. There are kid things that he probably already likes -- peanut butter, mac and cheese, pizza -- and the possibilities just snowball from there. Just avoid lots of high-fat, dairy rich foods as a "substitute" for meat. There are tons of resources on the internet and in bookstores, even vegetarian cookbooks written just for kids. I'm including a few links. The "go vegetarian" link may seem a bit "radical" but unfortunately what they post is true, if a bit blunt and not what we're used to hearing. Here are some other links:

this one is about vegan children but a lot of it applies to vegetarian children as well: Children.html

Lots of veggies/grains are a good source of iron... I don't know what your son needs but here's a partial list: Rich in Iron

or if that doesn't work, try and scroll down.

And here's an article on the difference between heme and non-heme iron:

it's not as bleak as it sounds. If you have a supportive doctor, I would talk to him about your son's anemia and the best way to address it. I don't know anything about it but it's possible that iron supplements may be enough to cover any concerns about the lack of meat-based iron.

As you can see, there's plenty of information available!

It's kind of hard to start suggesting specific recipes because I don't know what your sons like/dislike but if you google things like "vegetarian children" and "vegetarian recipes" you'll be swamped with ideas.

If you have other questions, please post away... this forum is a bit slower than some of the others but there are people who read here and will be glad to help. Good luck, and enjoy!

Here is a link that might be useful: go vegetarian

RE: LOOKING for: Can anyone tell me if it's healthy for children

I am raising our daughter as a vegetarian until she is old enough to make her own decisions. She is perfectly healthy and likes almost all the veggies and fruits I offer her. Fortunately, the pediatricians are better informed nowadays than what they used to be and they are really supportive of a vegetarian diet. At 12 months of age kids are routinely screened for anemia. My daughter didn't have it even though we didn't use any supplements. For good iron absoption it is important that you get enough vitamin C with the meal or throughout the day. Peas, green beans, whole grain products, eggs, strawberries, mangoes all are good sources of iron. An ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet is very unlikely to cause any deficiencies as long as a wide variety of foods are consumed. A strict vegan diet is a little trickier, but it can also supply all the nutrients. I would recommend to do some research about nutrition before switching to a vegan diet. Some people think they can just skip the meat and animal products and not change anything else about their eating habbits, but it is not quite that easy. Some vegans are severely underweight and are suffering from deficiencies. It can be prevented by knowing a little more about essential proteins and fats, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

RE: LOOKING for: Can anyone tell me if it's healthy for children

I'm a mostly vegetarian who occasionally eats meat. I'm borderline anemic. This was the way I was born, and for years I wasn't a vegetarian, so it hasn't affected me one way or the other. My mom, who eats meat, is also borderline anemic. I take a daily iron pill. The problem with iron is not just getting it in foods, but also absorbing it. I'm no expert but have read a little on the subject. As Looser says, you need vit. C for iron absorption. Also, I read best to take iron supplements early in the day, on an empty stomach. Also, cooking with cast iron cookware helps.

Unfortunately, the big iron contributors in a non-meat diet are leafy dark greens (think Popeye and his spinach) and beans and lentils. Not usually thought of as kid pleasing foods. And prune juice. Fortunately, I love all those foods, always have, but I think I'm a little atypical.

Dried fruits like prunes, raisins and apricots also have some iron. Potatoes, almonds and cashews, blackstrap molasses, tofu, peas, sunflower seeds, hummous. These are some foods you can maybe get kids to eat. Try hummous as a dip for carrot, celery and green pepper strips, or on crackers. Gingerbread or molasses cookies as a snack. Dried fruit and nuts for snacks too, or in cereal and oatmeal cookies. Raw spinach in salads. Spinach lasagne. Broccoli cheese casserole. Vegetable soup with alphabet noodles. Tofu or black bean burgers. Stuffed chard made with a stuffed cabbage recipe. Try the fake meat substitutes available almost everywhere these days. Chili with beans and tvp. Spinach omlettes or quiche.

You're a great mom to be so understanding. Don't sweat it though, your son may outgrow the vegetarian phase. Meanwhile, learning to eat all the foods mentioned above will instill healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. Beans and greens, doesn't get any better than that! Not just full of iron, but heart healthy, cancer preventing, etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Iron in the vegetarian diet

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