Have you ever considered becoming a vegetarian? Would you consider raising your child as a vegetarian?
When I was 15, I became a lacto-ovo vegetarian. A lacto-ovo vegetarian is someone who does not consume any type of animal flesh but still may consume milk and eggs. I simply gave up meat for my first Lent and decided to adopt the lifestyle. Not until freshman year in college, when I took an ethics and animals class, did I become a vegan and was it based on principal.
I was a vegetarian for 10 years but then at age 26, inexplicably, I started craving meat and gave into that craving. Warning: If you are a vegetarian for 10 years and then wolf down 2 McDonaldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cheeseburger, you will projectile vomit. I do not recommend this, at all.
I have not raised my girls on a strict vegan diet but it has always been lacking red-meat content. As I, myself, prefer not to eat red meat more than once a week. I have been considering going back to the lacto-ovo vegetarian or some similar variation of the lifestyle.
I felt healthier when red meat was eliminated from my diet. My concern is how eliminating red meat from small childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s diets will affect their health. So, I did a little research.
Pros of a vegetarian lifestyle
Feeding kids loads of fruits and veggies can start them off with a natural preference and inclination towards a lifetime of healthy eating habits.
By avoiding red meat, your child will reduce their intake of the things that any mother would try to keep out of their child’s diet such as saturated fat, cholesterol, pesticides, preservatives and food additives.
Raising you child vegan will also reduce their risk of exposure to meat-borne illnesses. It’s pretty hard to catch a meat-borne illness if you are not eating any meat.
Cons of a vegetarian lifestyle
Getting your children to eat enough food to get sufficient amounts or iron and other essential vitamins and nutrients can be a challenge, especially since a lot of small children are picky eaters.
Make sure your child eats plenty of enriched grains, broccoli, beans, soy products, dried fruits and leafy greens, and serve them with foods high in vitamin C, which increases the body’s absorption of iron. Vegan children can obtain calcium through beans, green vegetables, tofu, sunflower seeds, and fortified juices and cereals; vitamin B12 through nutritional yeast, cereals, and fortified soy or rice milk; and vitamin D through fortified foods and daily exposure to sunlight.
First and foremost, make sure that your child’s pediatrician is aware of your childÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s vegetarian diet. Your doctor can prescribe multivitamins or supplements that your child may be deficient in or recommend ways to increase intake that you may not have thought about.
Just because your child doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t eat animal flesh does not ensure that their diet will be healthy; that is your job. Chocolate, potato chips and elephant ears are all vegetarian foods but not particularly healthy.
To get the most out of your childÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s vegetarian diet, try natural treats. My daughtersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ favorite treats are homemade granola, frozen fruit and natural Popsicles made of organic yogurt and fresh organic fruits.
There is no denying that vegetarianism is a healthy lifestyle and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a commendable one to pass on to your children. The trick is making sure that your child is getting enough of the nutrients and calories that they need for optimal physical and mental growth.
Would you consider raising your child on a vegetarian diet? Why? Why not?
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