Most parents know that vegetables should be a part of their children's diets, but now there's another reason to serve kids their greens. According to the National Cancer Institute, eating processed meat as well as red meat every day could increase your cancer risk. This news is especially alarming for busy parents who often rely on quick hamburger and hot dog dinners for their pint-size picky eaters. Discovering easy and nutritious meatless meals may seem difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Get creative and learn how to sneak vegetables onto your kid's plate, and then check out the fast and simple vegetarian dinner ideas below. Don't forget to read on and get the facts about kids and vegetarianism, too.
Vegetarian Kids by Sue Gilbert
Vegetables and kids ... the two are hardly seen together. How can it possibly work to raise one as a vegetarian? It's not as unnatural as it may sound. Actually, kids are almost natural vegetarians. First of all, many have a hard time chewing through things, so that often eliminates meat, and second of all, they love animals. Once they make the connection between the hamburger and the cow, many pass on the meat. Of course there are multiple reasons for wanting to be a vegetarian, or for wanting to raise your child as one -- reasons like ethics, philosophy, economics, and religion. In recent years, the plethora of nutritional studies linking the intake of large amount of meat with certain chronic diseases has caused an increase in the number of proclaimed vegetarians, and semi-vegetarians. Because many of these people are just like us, parents wanting to optimize our health and hoping to extend our years, we end up changing the nature of the diet for the entire household, kids included.
Keep in mind, excluding meat does not ensure good health -- just as the practice of eating it does not ensure poor health. Meat contains lots of important nutrients that are harder to come by from other sources. Nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, folate, vitamin B12, thiamin and essential fatty acids. On the other hand, meat also supplies lots of saturated fats and cholesterol that can lead to clogged arteries and heart disease. Meat provides a concentrated source of complete, high quality protein. On the other hand, the proper combination of vegetable proteins can provide us with the same quality. The decision to exclude meat from your diet has neither a positive or negative health impact. How you choose to exclude it can.
Parents rightfully worry that a young child may not grow as well without meat in their diet to supply the necessary protein and energy.
Deciding to raise your child as a vegetarian should be a well studied and thought out decision accompanied by a high level of motivation. A solid knowledge of nutrition is necessary. The degree of restriction you place on your baby's diet can greatly effect how well they do. Vegetarian children have been found to have rickets, slower growth and multiple nutrient deficiencies, but they have also been found to grow normally and even have higher IQs than comparable non-vegetarian children.