About 2 percent of American kids ages 6 to 17 don’t eat meat. Whether it’s a social issue or they just don’t like the taste — there’s no reason for parents to panic. Mom and dad just have to smart when their kids turn vegetarian.
Greg and Paul Fister made a conscious decision to forego meat because they love animals.
“I studied them, and I learned all about them,” 10-year-old Paul says. His 12-year-old brother Greg says, “They’re our pets, and we’ve named them. So we can’t eat them.”
Their mom Laura wasn’t exactly excited. “I first thought, ‘Hmmm, how many more dishes am I going to have to prepare each night to accommodate these newfound vegetarians?'”
Pediatric dietician Marilyn Tanner-Blasiar, R.D., of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, says the key is making certain you’re cooking those dishes the appropriate way. She says there are specific vitamins and food combinations vegetarian kids need for growth and brain development: “Calcium and vitamin D, your zinc, your iron, protein and your B12.”
Vegetarian foods that appeal to kids include veggie burgers and hot dogs. Soy milk fortified with vitamin D and calcium is also a good bet. Yeast flakes are an easy way to add vitamin B12 to your child’s diet, and while veggies like spinach provide a punch of zinc and iron, parents should pair it with vitamin C-rich fruits and veggies to enhance absorption.
Tanner-Blasiar recommends you consult your pediatrician and a pediatric dietician if your child decides to become a vegetarian. Some grocery chains like whole foods will also give parents free help with choosing vegetarian foods for their kids.
Laura says adapting family meals for her boys was easy thanks to a friend’s advice. “They have meat more as a condiment than the main course, so it can be added or subtracted very easily,” she says. And if this mother of eight can adapt, it seems any parent could.
Source: Ivanhoe Broadcast News
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