Can children thrive on a vegetarian diet?

By Dr. Ruchi Kaushik
General Pediatrics
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

Because of the recent increase in obesity incidence and a desire to improve cardiovascular health, many families have developed an interest in vegetarian diets; however, parents often fear that with a diet restriction, they may not be able to meet the nutritional needs of their children. I currently am raising three, young lacto-ovo-vegetarians and assert that, with knowledge and creativity, parents can ensure the normal nourishment and growth of their child. Indeed, studies have shown that with vegetarian diets children may still attain normal weights and heights.

Definitions
Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, or fish. Those who do consume eggs and dairy products are lacto-ovo-vegetarians. Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy but not eggs. And vegans only consume plant foods. Although a well-varied diet can be sufficient for all types of vegetarians, without close monitoring of food selection, vegan children may be at risk for a nutritional deficiency.

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