L31 — August 2011 — Vegetarian Kids
Intro: Vegetarian diets have been used worldwide for thousands of years. These days, it seems, vegetarianism continues to get more popular, even among kids. Teens, pre-teens and even younger children can be healthy on a vegetarian diet if it's well planned and has the ingredients they need to grow.
I love animals so much.
That's what prompted 13-year-old Kelsey Henderson to become a vegetarian. No meat, pork or poultry.
Anything in the water I will eat, so fish, seafood.
We are making shells with cauliflower and peas.
Kelsey's mom Kathy is not a vegetarian, but she's adjusted the family meal plan to accommodate her daughter.
I knew this was going to impact us as a family.
If Kathy cooks a meal with meat, she always makes sure there are vegetarian side dishes or alternatives for Kelsey.
Chickenless chicken patties, chickenless chicken nuggets.
Planning ahead is what Dr. Molly McMahon says is key to making sure kids on vegetarian diets get proper nutrition.
If they are well planned, it can be very healthy.
In general, vegetarian diets are low in fats and high in fruits, veggies and whole grains — all healthy options. But there are several varieties of vegetarian diets, so you have to know what type you're talking about to be certain your child's diet is healthy and balanced.
Vegetarian by itself means people exclude meat, chicken and poultry. But then there are lacto vegetarians who exclude that but eat dairy products. There are lacto-ovo vegetarians who eat dairy products and eggs. You need to know what type of diet the person's on. Someone who is vegan doesn't have any animal products at all, so doesn't have the meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products or honey. That's a quite-restricted diet.
Breads, cereals, milk, soy products are some of the foods often fortified with calcium, vitamin D and B-12, essential nutrients for growing kids. You also have to make sure vegetarian kids get enough protein.
I used to get hungry a lot, but it's easier now 'cause you kind of get used to it and used to the products you need to eat to get more protein and feel fuller. Lots of nuts, salmon, lots of fish, 'cause that's mostly what I eat, cheese, a lot of cheese.
A child new to vegetarian diets should meet with a physician and a dietician just to learn about how to eat healthfully. Kids who are athletes need particular attention because they may need more frequent meals or more snacks, snacks such as nuts of cereals or whole grain breads.
Dr. McMahon says studies show that kids on vegetarian diets tend to be leaner than kids who aren't, but learning how to eat right on a vegetarian diet is the key to good health.
Not only is it what I want to do with my life, but it's also healthy for my family.
For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.
Dr. McMahon says on restricted diets such as the vegan diet, kids may need to go on a dietary supplement to make sure they get enough calcium, vitamin D and B-12. Talk to your health care provider about making sure your kids get everything they need.
For more information, visit our website at…
STATIONS: Per the licensing agreement, please provide a link from your station's website to http://www.MayoClinic.org or voice tag "MayoClinic.org" for more information.