A vegetarian diet can be healthy, says Michele Shuker, registered dietitian at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, but with your child, keep the following in mind:
Calories and fat. Your child needs adequate amounts of both to grow. Without energy-dense meat, she’ll need to compensate. To boost intake, use energy-rich, less saturated fats such as olive and canola oil. Mix in with pasta, or have your child dip bread in oil.
Protein and calcium. Vegans, who don’t eat dairy or eggs, may not get enough. Soy products, legumes, and nuts provide protein; broccoli, tahini, fortified soy milk or OJ, and dried figs are nondairy sources of calcium.
B12, iron, and zinc. Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products, and veggie sources of iron and zinc can be tough to come by. (For iron, they include spinach and pumpkin seeds; for zinc, sunflower seeds.) Load up on all three with fortified cereals, veggie burgers, and breads.