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Raising a vegetarian toddler


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#1 Mung bean

Posted 19 February 2013 - 06:59 PM

I am on the tip of the ice berg, going vego.

I have been eating plant based meals for months now with some meat, mostly 'clean eating'.

I am curious to those who have raised a vegetarian family, what food did you mostly replace meat with, as in for the right nutrients?

TIA

Edited by Mung bean, 19 February 2013 - 07:12 PM.


#2 ~RunningWoman~

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:07 PM

Flame me peeps but I really believe that we should not remove foods such as meat from a toddlers diet because its right for 'us' but let them decide for themselves when old enough. Your toddler would be missing out on vital nutrients while growing.

Flame away!

#3 bikingbubs

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:11 PM

We arent strictly vego, we simply dont eat much meat (maybe once a month if that) we eat fish once a week though.  We have lots of chick peas/lentils/beans etc - its essentially what we used to eat but replace whatever meat the recipe calls for with something else.
I dont really think of it as 'removing' something from his diet, as he still eats meat just not very often.  He might be an odd kid though who asks for chick peas for lunch when given the choice wink.gif

#4 Mung bean

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:11 PM

QUOTE (CottageWitch @ 19/02/2013, 08:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Flame me peeps but I really believe that we should not remove foods such as meat from a toddlers diet because its right for 'us' but let them decide for themselves when old enough. Your toddler would be missing out on vital nutrients while growing.

Flame away!


I know what your saying and I'm sure if I go vegetarian there will be a million people telling me this but to my knowledge there are other foods that contain the same, if not more nutrients... Hence my post, I am curious to know which foods are rich in the essential proteins.



#5 amabanana

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:12 PM

When I was a vegetarian I didn't replace meat but cooked differently so that I ate many kinds of grains and legumes and a greater variety of foods.   I don't think you were suggesting this, but I think fake meat is processed and gross so wouldn't eat it.

Protein doesn't just come from animal products, you just have to make sure you eat a good variety of fruit/veg/grains etc.  If you are worried about making sure your toddler gets enough of what they need you could visit a nutritionist for some advice.

#6 amabanana

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:16 PM

QUOTE (CottageWitch @ 19/02/2013, 08:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Flame me peeps but I really believe that we should not remove foods such as meat from a toddlers diet because its right for 'us' but let them decide for themselves when old enough. Your toddler would be missing out on vital nutrients while growing.

Flame away!


Sure, if you just remove meat from the standard 'meat and three veg' style of eating then you would have that problem.  While I am not a vegetarian myself, I know plenty of vegetarians (including children) who are extremely healthy and not lacking in nutrition.  But, they do think a lot about what goes into their bodies and eat a wide variety of unprocessed foods.  Meat is not the be all and end all of vitamins and minerals.

#7 Pompol

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:20 PM

QUOTE (CottageWitch @ 19/02/2013, 08:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Flame me peeps but I really believe that we should not remove foods such as meat from a toddlers diet because its right for 'us' but let them decide for themselves when old enough. Your toddler would be missing out on vital nutrients while growing.

Flame away!


Vegetarianism is hardly a controversial dietary choice these days, even for children.

OP, I am primarily plant based. I eat animal products including meat, but not day to day - it's a "sometimes food" for me on birthdays/holidays/etc wink.gif. For my kids, I've chosen to include meat/dairy etc in their diets a few times a week, but as a side to the vegetable based mains I cook myself. So, for example, they might have falafel wraps with some chicken too. DH loves meat and isn't plant based so we are cooking both options anyway, I am keen to expose them to a wide variety of foods and have no ethical issues with meat so this works for us.

I tend to eat tofu once or twice a week, legumes and/or mushrooms most nights and occasionally a soy based meat substitute - tonight I'm chowing down on a delicious Frys schnitzel as I type this. I keep those to a minimum though as they are obviously highly processed and quite salty.

Have you heard of happy herbivore? Awesome meal ideas there although I have found some of the ingredients hard or impossible to get where I live (rurally).

Good luck original.gif

Edited by Pompol, 19 February 2013 - 07:24 PM.


#8 B.feral3

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:22 PM

QUOTE (CottageWitch @ 19/02/2013, 07:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Flame me peeps but I really believe that we should not remove foods such as meat from a toddlers diet because its right for 'us' but let them decide for themselves when old enough. Your toddler would be missing out on vital nutrients while growing.

Flame away!


There's always one OP.  rolleyes.gif

We raised DS1 completely vegetarian until he was 4. For various reasons we introduced free range organic chicken into our diets and now eat that about 3 times a week.

Entire cultures are vegetarian. CW's post is bizarre!! We do agree on one thing though, I will let my kids decide for themselves when they're older.  wink.gif


#9 Silver Girl

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:26 PM

We are vegetarian and so is DS (3). We visited a paediatric dietitian whose children are vegetarian for cultural reasons.

She advised:
Formula until age 2 instead of cow's milk;
Include eggs in diet
Daily Pentavite
Vegemite
Legumes (chick peas, lentils etc)
Iron fortified Weetbix
Wholegrains
Quinoa
Lots of fruit and vegetables

DS is on the 80th percentile for height and weight and is thriving. His blood tests show his iron and other nutrient levels are fine.

We don't eat much fake meat. We will add a can of chick peas to a pasta sauce or frittata, or make tacos with red kidney beans for example.



#10 librablonde

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:27 PM

I've raised all my kids as veggo's and they're so healthy. They're not vegan so do eat eggs/honey/dairy and I also gave them nuts, seeds and soy products such as tofu and tempeh and all manner of beans and legumes. My kids are rosy-cheeked and bright-eyed and are rarely sick. They eat a heap of fresh fruit and veggies. They enjoy dips and veggie sticks or crackers, boiled eggs, veggie fritters, curries, pastas and quiches. They also love falafel balls for dipping in homemade satay sauce, marinated tofu and roast veggies. They have flaxseed oil for their omega's and I've been adding nutritional yeast flakes for B12. Every once in a while I give them a chewable multi-vitamin.

I don't understand why PP's say toddlers are missing out on vital nutrients by not eating meat: anyone on a crap diet (omivore or vegetarian) can miss out on nutrients if the diet is poor. And I don't spend my night laying awake worrying that my kids are having a balanced diet either: meal planning and understanding good nutrition is second nature to me now and requires no extra "effort" on my part.

As for PP's saying the child isn't choosing to be a vegetarian: well, they're not choosing your religion or political/social views either but they can make their own decisions when they're older, that's fine. If my kids choose to meat when they are older then that's fine, but I'm raising them healthily and happily with a deep compassion for animals right now so what is the problem with them being vegetarian?????

#11 Cirrus

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:27 PM

Hi There,
I was raised as a vegetarian - so lots of soybeans and vegetables at home. However when at someone else's house- I would tend to get a pile of grated cheese or some other less-than-ideal substitute for a balanced meal. Plus I don't like eggs, which would have been a good part of my diet - otherwise lacking in protein.
I would not raise a vegetarian child myself - since it really is quite hard to get all the nutrients a growing body needs (example: the iron in food like spinach/soy beans can only be used by the body if certain other foods are part of the diet - and most of those 'other food' options are meat) - but the main reason is that it can be very hard to sleep without the feeling of a full tummy. For a growing child, poor sleep would be no fun.

By the way I now eat meat since my mid-20s and obviously I am not denying that there are probably some vegetarian families that have very nutritious diets - however I would be sure that they put loads of effort in and have a strong knowledge of the nutritional content of food.

You say that you are on the tip of the ice-berg without giving your reasons for your desire to go meat-free, however one thing you could consider is 1 meat-free day per week permanently for both of you. This could be a way to have an environmental impact / reduce your personal demand for foods associated with animal cruelty at a smaller scale than totally meat-free. Imagine if we all did that?

#12 ~RunningWoman~

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:28 PM

QUOTE (Bek+3 @ 19/02/2013, 08:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
There's always one OP.  rolleyes.gif


Yes there is, isn't there?? cclap.gif

Heaven forbid that someone may harbour a different oppinion. Honestly. ddoh.gif

#13 Mung bean

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:32 PM

QUOTE (Pompol @ 19/02/2013, 08:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Vegetarianism is hardly a controversial dietary choice these days, even for children.


This is my thinking, my son eats chickpeas, lentil bolganaise, chia pudding, lots of legumes and vegies, nut milks and dairy milk as well as dairy yoghurt and hardly any processed foods. We own a Bellini so we eat a lot of wholefoods.

To be honest, as long as his meat intake is replaced with the right foods I can't see how he would be disadvantaged. I feel like the more I cook, the more I learn that knowledge about food is as big or small as you make it.



#14 sallybat

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:44 PM

First of all, good on you OP, for going vego! I was raised vegetarian, and went vegan about 7 years ago. I have a 20 month old who has been vegan his whole life. He was born at 33 weeks, but is now on the 95th percentile for height and weight. His doctor is so impressed with his vigorous health, that she is now embarking on her own vegan journey, her children included! The biggest mistake people make when removing meat/animal products from their diet, is not substituting properly. For example, for protein, we eat lots of tofu, tempeh, lentils, nuts/seeds, grains. For iron, go for whole grains, seeds, legumes, green leafy veg. Plant based calcium sources include tofu, fortified milks, tahini, green leafy veg (like kale). As long as you try to include a range of protein/iron/calcium sources, you will be fine! But I do suggest getting some books, like 'Becoming Vegetarian' by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. I have 'Becoming Vegan' by the same authors, and I still use it now as a reference. It has great info on veg pregnancy, veg babies/toddlers/kids, and it will give you lots of info so you can de-bunk any silly myths (like "You won't get enough nutrients, blah, blah, blah") the people will try to throw at you! Best of luck, OP!  original.gif

#15 mewsings

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:54 PM

I'm a long term vegetarian and so far, so are both the kids - DD sees a dietician for an unrelated medical reason and we been told that DDs micro nutrient levels are at the upper end of normal, so I don't buy the old chestnut of malnutrition.  

The best way to approach it I feel is to get away from thinking that meat is the centrepiece of every meal and the veggies get arranged around it.  Start easy - take you favourite mince recipe and replace mince as an ingredient with a combo of carrots, mushrooms and nuts put through a blender.  Add chickpeas, beans, whatever takes your fancy.  I use my mince mix for sang choy bow,  curries, spag bog, cottage pie, meatless meatloaf, anything that has mince really. You need to play around to get th consistency right, but once you do it's easy.  When your comfy with that, start playing with aubergine or portabellos as a steak substitute.  

Works for us.

#16 tickledpink72

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:55 PM

QUOTE (CottageWitch @ 19/02/2013, 08:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Flame me peeps but I really believe that we should not remove foods such as meat from a toddlers diet because its right for 'us' but let them decide for themselves when old enough. Your toddler would be missing out on vital nutrients while growing.

Flame away!



I agree 100%.

#17 Mung bean

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:55 PM

QUOTE (sallybat @ 19/02/2013, 08:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
First of all, good on you OP, for going vego! I was raised vegetarian, and went vegan about 7 years ago. I have a 20 month old who has been vegan his whole life. He was born at 33 weeks, but is now on the 95th percentile for height and weight. His doctor is so impressed with his vigorous health, that she is now embarking on her own vegan journey, her children included! The biggest mistake people make when removing meat/animal products from their diet, is not substituting properly. For example, for protein, we eat lots of tofu, tempeh, lentils, nuts/seeds, grains. For iron, go for whole grains, seeds, legumes, green leafy veg. Plant based calcium sources include tofu, fortified milks, tahini, green leafy veg (like kale). As long as you try to include a range of protein/iron/calcium sources, you will be fine! But I do suggest getting some books, like 'Becoming Vegetarian' by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. I have 'Becoming Vegan' by the same authors, and I still use it now as a reference. It has great info on veg pregnancy, veg babies/toddlers/kids, and it will give you lots of info so you can de-bunk any silly myths (like "You won't get enough nutrients, blah, blah, blah") the people will try to throw at you! Best of luck, OP!  original.gif



Thanks for the info! original.gif

#18 B.feral3

Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:59 PM

QUOTE (CottageWitch @ 19/02/2013, 07:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yes there is, isn't there?? cclap.gif

Heaven forbid that someone may harbour a different oppinion. Honestly. ddoh.gif


The OP didn't ask opinions regarding whether to be or not to be vegetarian.  cool.gif

#19 LovingTheBeach

Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:05 PM

QUOTE (mewsings @ 19/02/2013, 08:54 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm a long term vegetarian and so far, so are both the kids - DD sees a dietician for an unrelated medical reason and we been told that DDs micro nutrient levels are at the upper end of normal, so I don't buy the old chestnut of malnutrition.  

The best way to approach it I feel is to get away from thinking that meat is the centrepiece of every meal and the veggies get arranged around it.  Start easy - take you favourite mince recipe and replace mince as an ingredient with a combo of carrots, mushrooms and nuts put through a blender.  Add chickpeas, beans, whatever takes your fancy.  I use my mince mix for sang choy bow,  curries, spag bog, cottage pie, meatless meatloaf, anything that has mince really. You need to play around to get th consistency right, but once you do it's easy.  When your comfy with that, start playing with aubergine or portabellos as a steak substitute.  

Works for us.


Hi, I'm a bit new to EB so I hope I've inserted the quote properly. Just wondering if you could give me an idea of the types of nuts and the amount you should to make your 'mince'?? I am trying to have a meat free meal each week, but with appropriate alternativies.

#20 ~RunningWoman~

Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:20 PM

QUOTE (Bek+3 @ 19/02/2013, 08:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The OP didn't ask opinions regarding whether to be or not to be vegetarian.  cool.gif


Actually, before she edited her post, rewording it she kinda did. Anyways, better things to do and all that.

#21 JaneLane

Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:24 PM

I have been vegetarian for ethical reasons since I was a young child by choice.  My parents eat meat, just not very much.  I do wish my parents never fed me meat at a young age and instead let me choose when I could think for myself.

People don't 'need' meat, vegetarians and vegans are often very healthy and not lacking any nutrients.  There was a study released recently showing vegetarians generally live longer than omnivores.  I have never had an iron deficiency or found to be lacking in any other nutrients, vitamins etc.

Do your research on all food groups and learn what the body needs.  I occasionally eat meat substitutes to fit in with others but I don't eat them very often. Lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes, dairy, Nuts, seeds, grains etc.  When making something for a mince based recipe like spaghetti Bol, pastitsio, shepards pie and the like, I will use tempeh with lentils along with  grated carrots, tomato, tomato paste, spices etc the same as if it were meat.

Good luck! From all my years as vegetarian I know you often come across people who want to bully you for your choices even though it does not effect them in the slightest, but it is worth if it you think it is the best thing for you!

Edited by blue4me, 19 February 2013 - 08:34 PM.


#22 feralisles

Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:28 PM

My kids are third generation vegetarian, and as we have never eaten meat I don't think of food as "meat substitutes".  Animals aren't food to us, plants are!  And as others have said, if you provide a wide variety of fresh food (and if your son will eat a wide variety) you will not have any nutritional problems.

We use lots of tofu, legumes such as chick peas or lentils, nuts and whole grains.  Indian and asian recipes are particularly suited to vegetarian eating - my kids love udon noodle soup with tofu and asian greens, or chickpea and eggplant curries, mushroom samosas etc.  We don't do the fake meats as I find the whole concept rather bizarre and unappealing.  There are loads of excellent recipes on the web.

I don't think you need to worry about your son's growth. I am average in height, all my siblings (also raised vego) are tall.
Both my kids are above average in height (nearly 90th centile), doing well at school and in excellent health.  None of my vego family have ever had iron deficiency except in late pregnancy, when it is pretty common even in omnivores.  As for making choices for your son, isn't that what parents do all the time?
If we left all choices to our kids, they would probably live on hot chips and lollies!  Our job is to provide a range of healthy options for them to choose from, and a vegetarian diet meets that criterium.  In fact if you look at the evidence, vegetarians are healthier and live longer on the whole than omnivores.  I don't think I am disadvantaging my children by not offering them meat.  If they choose to eat it when they are out I will respect their right to make that choice.  So far they have shown no interest, only revulsion!

The Australian vegetarian society (www.veg-soc.org) have a free downloadable booklet on nutrition, and links to dieticians if you need individual support.  They have lots of recipes too, and links to other pages.  If you are in a city OP they also run get togethers, some of which are family friendly.  You might enjoy talking to other parents who are raising vego kids.
Good luck with your journey!

#23 tiggy2

Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:35 PM

Consider adding an iron supplement.
It's relatively easy to get enough protein and harder to get enough iron.
My vego dd ended up anaemic and very sick.

It's certainly doable but make sure you keep an eye on iron as well as protein.

#24 Magnus

Posted 19 February 2013 - 09:06 PM

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/b...ts_and_children

The above is a fairly conservative government source that concludes that a vegetarian diet can be a "nutritious alternative" to a meat-based diet.

It also has a lot of advice about what to do to avoid potential issues such as iron deficiency. I think that if one is doing any diet poorly (including meat-based) then there will be issues, though.

I have been vegetarian for 29 years (and took about six months off to eat meat when I was a kid). I don't have health problems (except a couple of minor issues such as mild asthma and hypermobile joints which clearly aren't caused by my diet). I am also above average height. I've had siblings and other friends raised vegetarian who are all completely healthy too. So that's my anecdata, for what it's worth.

I get so angry at people who just claim that vegetarian diets are bad based on no evidence whatsoever, 'cept for what Auntie Sue said once 'bout beef being really good for making strong bones or some folklore like that.

I'm also fed up with the 'don't the poor kids get a choice?' line. Children who are brought up eating meat don't usually get a choice, either. And, like PP said, a lot of (if not most) things about one's upbringing are already chosen, but suddenly when it's about vegetarianism, that's a huge issue.

I've already had to justify my choice to have vegetarian children multiple times and I don't even have children yet (and I'm not the one who ever raises the issue, either) mad.gif

I think it would be good to see a nutritionist who is sympathetic to a vegetarian diet, so you could get tips about how to plan well-balanced meals. I think it is a bit more complex than just meat + veg =dinner, so it could help to be prepared with more ideas.

#25 MoonPie

Posted 19 February 2013 - 10:24 PM

QUOTE (myfamilyrocks @ 19/02/2013, 07:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Chickpea patties:
1 tin of chickpeas
1 large sweet potato
2 tablespoons of premade curry paste (to your liking)
1/t cup of spring onions

Steam sweet potato, mash with chickpeas, add spring onions and curry paste. Mix together. Spoon onto baking tray. Bake with canola oil until cooked through. Serve with salad or vegetables.

I have nothing to do with this debate except that we try and eat vegetarian once or twice a week. Just wanted to say thanks for the recipe. I think that's tomorrow's dinner.




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