Vegetarian diets are often thought to lack the right nutrients however this is not always the case, below are list of ways to get different nutrients from a vegetarian diet:
For vegetarian children, the best sources of calcium are dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt.
Dairy-free foods that are rich in calcium include tofu, some green leafy vegetables like kale and bok choy, nuts, seeds, tinned fish with bones, and foods fortified with calcium, like cereal, soy milk and bread. Not all dairy alternatives are fortified with calcium, though, so make sure to read food labels.
Vegetarian children can get iron from egg yolks, dark and leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, beans, lentils, wholegrains and fortified breakfast cereals.
Children can boost their iron absorption by eating vitamin C-rich foods at the same time as iron-rich foods. For example, your child could eat wholegrain cereal and an orange for breakfast. Vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits, strawberries, capsicum and broccoli.
Adolescent girls with frequent, long or very heavy periods have a higher risk of becoming iron deficient and getting anaemia. So it’s especially important for them to eat plenty of iron-rich foods.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, canola oil and soy products are good vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
For protein, vegetarian children can include dairy foods, eggs, beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu and nuts in their diets.
Vegetarian children can get vitamin B12 from eggs and milk if their diet includes these animal products.
If your child is a vegan, they’ll need to get vitamin B12 from fortified foods like fortified breakfast cereals, plant-based milks and soy products. Not all of these products have added B12 so be sure to read their food labels.
Vegetarian children can get zinc from milk, seeds, tofu and wholegrain cereals.
At Tops, we include both Vegan and Vegetarian recipes in our menus throughout our nurseries, to ensure the children are getting nutritional and sustainable meals. Not only do the children love them but this type of diet offers lots of health benefits, find out more here.