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Switching young kids to a vegetarian diet
Q: To improve our health, my husband and I have started walking after dinner. We have also decided to become vegetarians, but we have two children under 5 and wonder what effect this will have on them. What is your advice?
A: Congratulations on your decision to take better care of yourselves! Taking these steps now will give your children lifelong healthy habits because they will have grown up with them! I also applaud your desire to improve your diet. Reducing or eliminating meat intake is a great way to start.

There are different types of vegetarian diets, the most common being vegan or lacto-ovo. Vegan diets offer no animal products at all, whereas lacto-ovo diets allow for the intake of milk, eggs and fish. I am personally most comfortable with the lacto-ovo version for children to easily ensure that they have adequate protein intake, especially during the transition from meat-based diets.

The key to success with any vegetarian diet is to use fresh produce and whole grains. This combination allows for maximum nutrition while reducing fat, additives and other unwanted chemicals into the body. If increasing legumes (dried peas/beans) in your diet causes petrol, try soaking them for a few hours before cooking.

I highly recommend the book “The New Becoming Vegetarian” by Melina Vesanto and Brenda Davis. When choosing titles about vegetarianism look for books written by registered dietitians.

Susan M. Leisner RD, IBCLC, RLC Nutritionist & Lactation Consultant