Vegetarian Infants, Children and Teens

Vegetarian Infants, Children and Teens

Are you, as a vegetarian parent, keen to promote this lifestyle in your family, and yet are worried that a vegetarian diet for your infant, child or teen might have negative consequences for growth and development?

Good News:

According to the Position Statement of the American Dietetic Association, published in 2009 in the Journal of the ADA, appropriately planned vegan, lacto-vegetarian, and ovo-lacto-vegetarian diets do satisfy the nutrient needs of infants, children and teens, promoting normal growth…

Lifelong vegetarians have adult heights, weights and BMIs that are similar to those who become vegetarian later in life, suggesting that well-planned vegetarian diets in infancy and childhood do not affect final adult height or weight. It is advisable to involve a Registered Dietician in order to ensure that the vegetarian diet is well- and appropriately planned for the specific lifestyle stage.

It has also been shown that vegetarian diets in childhood and adolescence set excellent foundations for lifelong healthy eating habits, with major nutritional benefits, and can contribute enormously towards promoting good long-term health.

Compared with non-vegetarian kids and teens, vegetarian kids and teens:

  • have lower cholesterol, saturated fat and total fat intakes
  • have higher intakes of fruits, vegetables and fibre
  • are also generally leaner
  • have lower total cholesterol levels

Soya is a common component of vegetarian diets, and relating to health benefits, an observational study reported in the Planta Medica: May 2013, showed that “…the timing of exposure (to soy isoflavones) is one of the most important determinants of beneficial health effects from soy foods….” And that this is “most likely the result of gut microbiota, which colonizes the intestine during childhood and facilitates the hydrolysis of glycosides and the formation of equol from dadzein, a pathway that may result in beneficial health effects.”    I.e. By adding in more soya in the early years (as one would do in a vegan/vegetarian diet) produces confirmed long-term benefits to health. An example of an easy inclusion in a child’s vegan/vegetarian diet could be soya patties, Soya Life Porridge and Soya Life Instant Meal replacement Drink.


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