For many parents it’s a battle at the dinner table trying to get children to eat their veggies, but in recent years more and more families seem to have made the switch from meat to greens altogether.
More Kids Eating a Vegetarian Diet
A recent nationwide survey by the Vegetarian Resource Group found that about 1.4 million school-aged children in the United States are vegetarian. This number is up almost two percent from what it was 10 years ago. But is raising your child vegetarian really healthy?
Health Benefits: Less Cholesterol and Fats
The American Dietetic Association says there are definitely benefits to kids being on a vegetarian diet. Research shows they tend to take in less cholesterol, saturated fat, and total fats. Meat does include vitamins and nutrients that are essential to children’s growth and development. So, if you are raising your child vegetarian or considering it, it’s important to make sure they are getting these elsewhere.
For example, protein can be found in other sources like soy, legumes, grains, nuts, and eggs. Avocados are rich in healthy fats for energy, and asparagus and broccoli are rich in riboflavin. Children being raised vegan or vegetarian may supplement with vitamins such as Vitamin B12, Zinc, and Vitamin D.
Consult a Nutritionist
Pediatricians recommend that parents interested in raising their kids vegetarian consult with a nutritionist to ensure they are still getting the nutrients they need out of their diet.
A few of my “busy mom” vegetarian recipe favorites include:
- Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa
- Granny’s Slow Cooker Chili
- Black Bean and Butternut Squash Ragout
- Vegetarian Deconstructed Bell Pepper Soup
- Black Bean Quesadillas (use whole wheat tortillas…these are great made ahead and frozen and quick to reheat just the amount you need)
- Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
- Higher protein snack ideas: Hummus with veggies and/or crackers, nut butter with apples/celery, nuts or snack mixes (can be high in sugar if containing a lot of dried fruit), yogurt/fruit parfait