Families follow vegetarian diets for a variety of reasons – whatever your reason, plan your family's diet to ensure they're getting all the required nutrients. Children can get all the nutrients they need to thrive from a well planned vegetarian diet.
The food based dietary guidelines apply the same way - eating plenty of vegetables and fruit and starchy foods such as bread, cereals and potatoes; moderate amounts of meat/fish alternatives; some dairy foods or alternatives; and a small amount of food high in fat and/or sugar.
Vegetarian diets are associated with lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, certain cancers and lower cholesterol levels. This could be because such diets are lower in saturated fat and contain more fibre and phytonutrients/phytochemicals. However, there are some specific nutrients you need to consider:
Vegetarian sources of protein include:
• beans, lentils and chickpeas
• soya and soya products e.g. soya dairy alternatives, tofu, soya nuts and soya mince • seeds
• nuts and nut butters (e.g. peanut butter)
• grains such as wheat (found in cereals, pasta and bread), rice and maize.
• milk and dairy products (yoghurts and cheese)