If you are considering raising your children to be vegetarian or if you are currently in the transition, be sure you are able to receive medical advice from a pediatrician who supports vegetarianism. There are a lot of valuable resources on the internet but…
It can be very healthy to raise your children on a vegetarian or vegan diet. It requires planning to ensure you meet all the needs of your growing children’s body, but it’s not impossible. Often times, an omnivorous diet requires the same planning to meet nutritional needs. Macaroni and cheese, corn dogs, and pizza all week will not cut it. Not for the insanely fast growing human child anyways.
Finding a doctor to support you in this path is a HUGE relief because they can support you emotionally as well. There are far too many naysayers who will attack your decision despite all the scientific evidence proving vegetarianism to be very healthy. But they will reassure you that you are aren’t crazy… Which is highly valuable when everyone around you hunts and says, “yeah, I’m more a meat n’ potatoes gal” in response to finding out you’re a vegetarian…
*invisible eye roll*
*invisible head shake*
Your children need regular well-being check ups anyway to ensure healthy growth and aid in preventative care. A pediatrician who supports vegetarianism will be able to assist you with any nutritional concerns that may arise. They will be able to tell you how to get vitamins and minerals from various types of food. If your baby refuses to eat something necessary for optimal health like leafy greens, they will be able to recommend a meatless substitute or offer a supplement if necessary.
Our pediatrician is very supportive of vegetarian diets.
We’ve been bringing our children to her for over four years now. She is amazing and not only in regards to vegetarianism. She always recommends a natural remedy along with actual medicine for any health concern, so far it’s been related to skin sensitivity and car sickness. And she always takes time to thoroughly explain all procedures and address our concerns. We made the transition to a vegetarian diet last year, August 2014, and despite her overall trust in my parenting skills and children’s good health, I was still a bit anxious to tell her about skipping meat. She had never even asked us if our children are eating meat. The anxiety stemmed from everyone else’s negative opinion on vegetarianism.
Here’s what she said:
“A balanced vegetarian diet can be just as healthy, if not healthier, than an omnivorous diet as long as no one is binging on breads and dessert all day. If your children are eating a variety of beans, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds and leafy greens, that’s perfectly fine.”
I asked her if we should do any blood tests to make sure everything looked normal, for example, iron levels. She said:
“I don’t have any health concerns or reasons that blood work needs to be done right now. If she was behaving abnormally or tired all the time, we could do it. Otherwise, your child is due for routine lab work next year at her five year checkup and it can wait until then.”
Also, she asked if we were just vegetarian or vegan too. I said we eat about 50% vegan meals and 50% vegetarian. She was NOT critical of this and seemed to trust that I was doing a great job providing healthy meals for my kids. She referred me to top leafy greens with calcium, potassium and magnesium (which are found in dairy products) and I told her we also drink nut-based milks, which have 50% more calcium than regular milk without the cholesterol.
“I always recommend children on any diet take a daily multivitamin in the form of a gummy or chewable since children can be picky eaters. But otherwise, your daughter looks good and I have no concerns.”
It was a very educated conversation and I am SO THANKFUL to have her as a pediatrician. If she wasn’t supportive of vegetarianism, I would have to find a new one. However, I can’t imagine any doctor who wouldn’t be supportive of this diet unless they only spent one day learning nutrition. I have yet to tell my personal physician about vegetarianism, so I’m a tiny bit nervous, but I will share that conversation whenever that happens as well.
I’d love to hear more comments on your pediatrician’s view of vegetarianism. Let me know and I will share some of your comments on the Mommy & Love Facebook page. Your comments could help encourage other parents on the fence about adopting a compassionate, plant-based diet. <3