My sweet Miss Cupcake has been a vegetarian for the duration of her little life. To be more precise, my dear hubby and I are raising her as is an lacto-ovo vegetarian. This means that she does not eat meat or fish, but she does eat dairy and eggs. I often receive questions about the reason for this decision and the safety of raising a vegetarian child. The following information is meant to answer a few of those questions and provide general information regarding raising a vegetarian child.
Question: Is it difficult for a vegetarian child to get enough protein for their growth needs?
Answer: Adequate protein needs are easily met with a little planning. Cupcake loves legumes (beans and peas), soy products, whole grains, yogurt, and eggs. Plant-based sources of protein are generally higher in fiber and lower in fat. Thus, these protein sources are a healthier option in many aspects. A vegetarian diet promotes normal growth in children.
Question: Will a vegetarian child have a lower immune system?
Answer: No. In fact, vegetarian children are generally found to have stronger immune systems. The immune system of vegetarians are generally stronger as a result of the vitamin content, low fat content, and reduced exposure to toxic chemicals and animal proteins. Thus far, Cupcake has never had a sick visit to the doctor or needed antibiotics.
Question: How do you get her to eat vegetables, whole grains, etc?
Answer: These were the first foods presented to Cupcake. My dear hubby and I have make every attempt to model healthy eating behaviors in front of her. Unhealthy food choices are not an option in our house (aside from the occasional celebratory dessert). Thus, Cupcake has learned to enjoy experimenting with veggies, tofu, beans, and whole grains.
Question: Do you feel that she is being deprived or missing out on special snacks and sweets?
Answer: Absolutely not! Cupcake is completely content with the healthy snacks that we offer her. She would rather have fresh fruit over sugary sweats. As with everything, moderation is key. There are occasions when she eats less than healthy snacks, but that is not her norm. We enjoy baking healthier cookies that are fruit and oat based. YUM!
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