There’s a huge number of people these days that choose vegetarian lifestyle, some for health reasons, others for ethical, and there is also a number who doing that for religious reasons. It is a matter of the person’s choice and view of life. Many parents who are vegetarians decide to raise their child in the same manner as a vegetarian baby, because of the environment and then one important question arises which is, how to provide to child everything he needs for healthy growth and to avoid giving non-vegetarian foods.
That is a very healthy diet and raising a vegetarian baby is probably a very good choice but it is necessary to prepare food longer and to avoid packed food. There are some dietary requirements that parents should pay attention to and they are to give enough calcium, protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12 to their baby. If you decide to go even further, to completely vegan diet, then things get even more complicated.
When you start giving solid foods to your baby, it is very important to include foods such as tofu or cottage cheese. Later you can add any other cheese, soy milk, legumes and cow’s milk. To raise a vegetarian baby, you have to provide your child necessary energy through frequent meals throughout the day. That is even more important in case you decide to raise vegan child because your baby will need even more frequent meals with soy drinks, vegetables, mashed fruits etc.
If you are not giving your baby diary products, then to provide enough calcium to baby’s body, you will have to replace that with enough nuts, seeds, leafy vegetables and beans. Good source of calcium are sesame seeds, chia seeds and similar. Cow’s milk can be replaced with almond milk which is also very rich in calcium.
Protein is very important for proper growth and baby needs protein for bones, skin, muscles, hair and tissues. Life without meat is not at all complicated and it is easy to replace that protein with soybeans, tofu, lentils, kidney beans or chickpeas.
Iron is one more important thing for your baby’s growth and lack of iron can cause many problems. Iron from meat is easier to absorb while with vegetables is not such case. There is a number of foods rich in iron such are peas, leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, cereals etc. If such food is combined with foods rich in C vitamin, it will help the baby’s body to absorb iron from vegetables easier.
Zinc can be provided from nut butter, pumpkin seed, nuts, pumpkin seed butter, beans etc. Vitamin B12 is very important for proper brain development and vegetarian products that are rich in this vitamin are dairy products. For vegans will be a bit complicated to get this necessary vitamin from foods and the best source are soy beverages and vegetarian burgers.
Raising a vegetarian baby is complicated task but if you are willing, nothing is impossible. You may need more time for food preparation and to find everything, but during pregnancy you can get informed and talk about it to your doctor.