Give kids vegan? The doctor sees no problem – on one condition

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Of: Julian Gutman

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Nutrition: An already sensitive topic. Vegan, vegetarian or a lot of meat: opinions on the perfect form of nutrition differ. Especially when it comes to children.

Sometimes people meet who have little understanding of the other’s eating habits. “How can you live without meat?”, “Think about animals and the environment and don’t eat animal products every day”, “How difficult is vegan cooking please” – a wide range of perspectives and prejudices come around when it comes. until the diet ends. The latter comes to mind as soon as the topic of “healthy nutrition for children” is discussed. If you feed your child vegetarian or even vegan, you will be punished with reproachful looks. Because the child doesn’t get all the important nutrients that way – does it?

Most nutritionists advocate a balanced diet – for both adults and children. However, there are also voices that are not critical of exclusively vegan food for children. This applies, among other things, to pediatrician Carolin Wiedmann, who is currently writing a book entitled “Vegan from the beginning”.

With or without meat? When it comes to feeding their children, parents often have very specific ideas. © Ute Grabowsky/Imago

Don’t just leave out meat, eggs and milk! Good vegan substitutes are extremely important

“Even in the so-called sensitive phases of life, childhood and pregnancy/breastfeeding, a vegan diet is not rocket science,” explains the pediatrician. daily mirrorinterview and continues: “A vegan diet requires more planning and nutritional knowledge, as several food groups are excluded and must be adequately replaced. This means that parents who want to feed their children vegan should do some research on the subject.”

Omitting meat and other animal products is only okay if the parents provide a substitute. According to pediatrician Wiedmann, you must, for example, ensure that your child gets enough protein from non-animal sources. This includes legumes. For example, spaghetti with minced meat bolognese can quickly be made vegan by substituting lentils for minced meat.

There is often an argument that people who are vegan eat too little calcium and too little iron. Here, specialist in pediatric and youth medicine Wiedmann makes it absolutely clear: You can easily replace both with non-animal products:

  • Vegan sources of calcium: Calcium-rich mineral water, calcium-fortified plant-based drinks, dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, tofu
  • vegan iron suppliers: legumes, nuts, dark green leafy vegetables, oatmeal

“Vegans should definitely include a safe source of B12 in their diet”

However, there are also micronutrients that should be supplemented in a vegan diet. This includes vitamin B12, which is essential in the body for energy metabolism and the development of nerve sheaths. “If you don’t supplement it sufficiently, you run a big health risk. Unfortunately, questionable B12 sources such as algae or sauerkraut are sometimes mentioned. However, these are not reliable sources of B12. Vegans absolutely need to include a safe source of B12 in their diet, and the most reliable way is to take a B12 supplement on a regular basis,” advises nutritionist Carolin Wiedmann.

Would you like to feed your child vegan? Talk to your attending pediatrician in advance. They can provide additional information and recommendations based on your child’s health condition.

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