More often than not, parents face the struggle of trying to get their kids to eat vegetables. But what happens when your child decides they want to ditch the meat and instead become a vegetarian?

According to Zelda Ackerman, if your child decides to follow a vegetarian diet, the correct planning can ensure that their nutritional preferences are met. Taking our advice from a paediatrician, we have compiled a number of different tips to ensure it’s the right decision for your child and that they still receive all the necessary nutrients in their diet:

1. Ensure your child eats a variety of foods from the following food groups:

  • Whole grains and starchy vegetables – e.g. brown rice, whole wheat pasta, sweet potato, potato, corn
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Meat Alternatives – e.g. beans, peas, lentils, soya, omega-3, enriched eggs, nuts and nut butters
  • Dairy Products – e.g. milk, yoghurt, cheese, cottage cheese and cream cheese
  • Healthy Plant Oils – e.g. avocado, olives, canola oil and olive oil

If you combine a balance of these different food groups in each of your child’s meals, they will remain happy and healthy in their vegetarian lifestyle.

2. Don’t forget to supplement:
Whilst there are a number of different meat-free recipes available, children typically need a multivitamin and iron supplement to get enough of the different vitamins they need and maintain healthy growth. Animal products are the only reliable source of vitamin B12 in particular and are also the best sources of iron and zinc, so a nutritional supplement, alongside vitamin-rich vegetarian foods, will ensure the intake and absorption of these missing nutrients.

3. Offer support:
In order to ensure that your child feels supported in their decision, it is often a good idea to make combined dishes like vegetable lasagne and butternut soup on days when the whole family is eating a vegetarian main meal. On other days, it can be useful to plan meals in a way that the dish remains the same, whilst the meat is substituted for a similar alternative like soya or beans. This is likely to result in your child feeling more included at meal times and, as a result, feeling more confident moving forward in their lifestyle changes.

To find out more about this, check out paediatrician Zelda Ackerman’s article: