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Vegetarianism can be very good for your children's health and for preventing diseases. But when it is not well planned, it can affect their physical and mental development. Here are some tips for you to make sure your kids' veggie diet is what they need.

The vegetarian diet, a new trend

Eating habits among the population are changing constantly due to several factors, including food availability and environmental conditions. But religious and moral believes also play an important role in people's decision to change to or to follow a certain diet. This is the case with vegetarianism.

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Regardless of the reason, vegetarians choose to base their diet in plants, fruits, legumes and nuts, and sometimes eggs, milk and dairy products, while they avoid meat, poultry and fish.

Some people decide to become vegetarians in their teenage years or already as adults; but there is another important population of vegetarians and vegans in children.

Children going veggie

Eating habits in children come from the parents. Vegetarian children follow this eating lifestyle since they are born. For example, there is evidence that says that children from vegetarian parents are usually breastfed during their first two years of life, while children from non-vegetarian parents are only breastfed for around 6 to 8 months. Without getting into much detail about the effects of this practice, you can get an idea of how different a diet from a vegetarian children can be, compared to a non-vegetarian.

One of the main concerns of a vegetarian diet in children is the fact that, if it is not well planned, it might deprive the child from the essential nutrients he or she needs to grow and develop properly.

This doesn’t mean that children should not practice vegetarianism. In fact, scientists as well as health and nutrition related associations, have determined that children can follow a vegetarian diet as long as it is sufficient when talking about caloric intake and as long as it is varied, in order for it to provide infants with the essential nutrients they need during their developing years.

A child’s metabolism is quite fast and efficient. Why? Well, because babies and children require a high amount of energy to fulfil every day’s needs and, at the same time, continue growing.

Both, non-vegetarian and vegetarian diets can fulfill these needs; but also, both diets can be harmful to them and cause malnutrition problems in both extremes: obesity or undernourishment.

The benefits of greens

The benefits that a child could get from a vegetarian or vegan diet are many. According to several studies, not eating red meat or poultry helps in keeping cholesterol and triglycerides in the normal ranges, reducing the risks of heart disease. Also, vegetarians have less risk of developing certain types of cancer and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, due to their consumption of foods rich in antioxidants.

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