Get answers to your nutrition and healthy eating questions. Visit www.eatrightontario.ca or call us toll-free at 1-877-510-510-2.
Get answers to your nutrition & healthy eating questions.
Call us toll-free† at 1-877-510-510-2 to speak directly with a Registered Dietitian.
Maybe you are vegetarian and your children want to eat the same way. Or perhaps your seven year-old learned where hamburgers come from and does not want to eat them anymore. No matter the reason, children can safely follow a vegetarian eating plan. Here’s what you need to know to raise a healthy vegetarian child.
There is more than one type of vegetarian:
Any of these vegetarian eating plans are healthy options for children. The main foods for all these diets are vegetables, fruit, grains, legumes (bean, lentils, dried peas), soy products, nuts and seeds.
From toddler to teen, children of all ages can be vegetarian. The important thing is to make sure they get the nutrients and energy they need to grow and develop well. This will take some planning. Before your children start following a vegetarian eating pattern, speak to their doctor, healthcare provider or Registered Dietitian. You can also contact a dietitian at EatRight Ontario for information and handouts on vegetarian meal planning. Call 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email.
Like all children, vegetarian children require a wide variety of foods from the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide for healthy growth and development. You can follow the Food Guide for the proper serving sizes at each age. Every day your children need:
Yummy Quinoa Lunch
Sweet Chili Tofu Stir-Fry
Spinach and mushroom lasagna
Souper Lunch with Rice and Beans
My Grandma’s Beet Soup
Sunshine French Toast, Heart and Stroke Foundation
A well-planned vegetarian diet for your children means paying special attention to some important nutrients. Speak to your child’s doctor, healthcare provider or a dietitian about food sources for these nutrients. You can also contact EatRight Ontario for more information on important nutrients and food sources. Call 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email.
Vegetarian or not, breast milk is best for babies. Breast milk plus a vitamin D supplement provides all of the nutrients your baby needs for the first six months of life. For information about introducing solid foods to babies, click here.
Breastfeeding vegetarian mothers need to get enough of the same nutrients listed above. Omega-3 fats are important for infant development and you may need an omega-3 supplement. Vegan mothers may need a vitamin B12 supplement each day. Speak to your doctor, healthcare provider or Registered Dietitian about prenatal and postnatal supplements.
If your baby is formula-fed, use an iron-fortified formula until age one, then switch to whole milk. Vegan babies should have iron-fortified soy formula until age two.
Well-planned vegetarian diets can be healthy for people of all ages and can provide you with all the nutrients for good health. But planning is key!
An EatRight Ontario Registered Dietitian can help. Call 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email to learn about the nutrients you need, healthy food choices, menu planning and to receive handouts.
Four steps to a balanced vegan eating pattern
What you need to know about a vegetarian eating plan
What you need to know about following a vegan eating plan
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Dietitians of Canada acknowledges the financial support of EatRight Ontario by the Ontario government. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.