Health care for children and youth
- A parent’s guide to the participation of children and teens in medical education
- Health research in children: What parents need to know
- International adoption: Health issues for families
- Making treatment decisions for babies, children and teens
- Paediatricians in Canada: Frequently asked questions
- Planning care for children and youth with serious medical conditions
- You and your child's doctor
Health information on the web
- Dieting: Information for parents, teachers and coaches
- Dieting: Information for teens
- Feeding your baby in the first year
- Food allergy vs. food intolerance: What is the difference and can I prevent them?
- Food safety at home
- Healthy eating for children
- Healthy snacks for children
- Iron needs of babies and children
- Nutrition for your young athlete
- Vegetarian diets for children and teens
- Vitamin D
- When your child is a picky eater
- Avoiding infection: What to do at the doctor’s office
- Growing up: Information for boys about puberty
- Growing up: Information for girls about puberty
- Handwashing for parents and children
- Healthy bowel habits for children
- Healthy sleep for your baby and child
- Healthy teeth for children
- Physical activity for children and youth
- Physical activity for children and youth with a chronic illness
- Skin care for your baby
- Teens and sleep: Why you need it and how to get enough
- When is my child ready for sports?
- 5-in-1 vaccine
- Chickenpox vaccine
- Diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (dTap) vaccine
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B vaccine
- HPV vaccine for girls
- HPV vaccine: What teens need to know
- Influenza vaccine
- MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) vaccine
- MMR vaccine: Myths and facts
- Pneumococcal vaccine
- Reduce the pain of vaccination in babies: A guide for parents
- Reduce the pain of vaccination in children and teens: A guide for parents
- Rotavirus vaccine
- Vaccination and your child
Vegetarian diets for children and teens
With good planning, a vegetarian diet can be a healthy choice that meets your growing child’s nutritional needs. Talk to your doctor about her diet to make sure she is getting everything she needs and growing well.
What is a vegetarian diet?
A vegetarian diet means not eating the flesh of any animal. Some vegetarians also choose not to eat any food that comes from animals (like dairy products or eggs).
Here are the different types of vegetarian diet:
- Vegan: eats only non-animal foods.
- Lacto-vegetarian: eats non-animal foods plus dairy (no eggs).
- Ovo-vegetarian: eats non-animal foods plus eggs (no dairy).
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian: eats non-animal foods plus eggs and dairy products.
Are vegetarian diets safe for babies and children?
Children need many nutrients, in the right amount, to grow and develop. Like any diet that doesn’t include certain foods, some vegetarian diets make it harder to get enough energy, protein, and certain nutrients.
Some nutrients—like vitamin B12—are only found in animal sources, such as cow’s milk. Iron, which is very important for babies and children, is more easily absorbed by the body when it comes from meat. So if your child’s diet doesn’t include animal foods, you’ll need to ensure these nutrients come from other sources. The chart below may help.
Are vegetarian diets safe for teens?
Puberty is a time of great change, and teens need a lot of energy and nutrients to get them through it. Be aware of your teen’s eating habits and help her eat the foods she needs to stay healthy. If you think your teen isn’t eating well, speak to your doctor or a dietitian.
How can vegetarian parents properly feed their baby?
Vegetarian women who are pregnant or nursing should speak to a dietitian to ensure they are getting enough protein, calcium, iron and vitamin B12.
Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for at least the first 6 months of life. Babies who are exclusively breastfed should get a supplement of vitamin D every day.
At 6 months, you can begin to introduce other foods to your baby. Vegetarian babies should get the same variety of vegetables, fruits and iron-fortified cereals as other babies. Alternate foods should be added to replace protein sources such as meat, fish, poultry and (if they are not included in your baby’s diet) dairy products.
A healthy vegetarian diet should include:
|Fat and fatty acids||
Reviewed by the following CPS committees:
Community Paediatrics Committee
Last Updated: December 2010