At the beginning of March, a kindergarten in Chengdu was exposed to “adopting a vegan diet” and caused heated discussions. On the evening of March 5, the Education Bureau of Xindu District of Chengdu issued the “Investigation on the Meal Supply of Deyin School Kindergarten”, stating that the kindergarten involved did not supply meat and animal food, and the investigation team has urged the school to improve the food supply in accordance with regulations.
There are many types of vegetarian food, such as vegan, lacto-vegetarian, egg-vegetable, semi-vegetarian, etc. Studies have shown that a vegan diet can significantly lower children’s cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, and essential amino acids. However, some people choose to be vegetarian due to cultural factors. Then we need to match the diet reasonably and find alternative food solutions.
Studies have shown that eating more plant-based foods instead of meat can help you stay healthy. So, for children whose bodies and brains are still developing, is a meatless diet plan a safe choice? How do you make sure that the food you choose will provide the children with the nutrients they need? 1. What types of vegetarians are included? Vegetarians are divided into different types, including: Lacto-egg vegetarians: still eat dairy products and eggs. Flexible vegetarians: Try to avoid eating meat, chicken, and fish, but sometimes they do. Absolute vegetarians: Do not eat any animal products or by-products. Image source: Zhankuhailuo 2. Is vegetarianism healthy for children? Debra Nessel, a registered dietitian at Torrance Medical Center, said: “Research has shown that vegetarians tend to be healthier than meat eaters.” Because stopping eating meat will consume less unhealthy saturated fat, cholesterol, and Eat more fiber. But not eating animal foods may make it more difficult for your child to get some essential nutrients. For example: protein: children need protein to grow and develop, maintain muscles, organs and their immune systems. Lacto-egg vegetarians can obtain protein from eggs and dairy products. In addition, some protein can be obtained from plant sources, such as peas, lentils, green leafy vegetables, seeds and nuts, and whole grains. Vitamin B12: Healthy nerves and blood cells depend on this vitamin. Vegetarians can obtain it from meat substitutes such as fortified grains, tofu or tempeh, and nutritional yeast. Zinc: Too little zinc may slow the growth rate of children and damage their immune system. Fermented grain products are a simple, child-friendly source of zinc, such as bread. Iron: Red blood cells throughout the body need iron to carry and transport oxygen. Try iron-fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, kidney beans, and lentils. Calcium: This mineral is an important component for strong bones and teeth. Please look for foods rich in calcium for your child, such as cereals, orange juice, and soy milk. Because bones grow rapidly during adolescence and most children tend to consume too little calcium, doctors may also recommend calcium supplements. Image source: Zhankuhailuo III. What else should I know? “Vegetarian” does not mean “healthy”. Lori Zanini, a registered dietitian from Los Angeles, pointed out: “The quality of food in the diet is the most important factor.” In fact, growing children need calories. But many vegetarian foods are low in fat and high in fiber. Although this is helpful for adults who need to lose weight, it is not suitable for children whose bodies are still developing.