Vegan vegetarians give meat to their children
Can you already feed babies vegetarian?
Experts advise against a vegan diet
In addition to iron, nutrients to be considered in vegetarian complementary foods are iodine, zinc and vitamin B12. "You can get both from cow's milk, and vitamin B12 from fish and eggs," says Kersting. "If parents want to give their child a vegan diet, they should definitely consult their pediatrician." This will possibly call in a nutritionist. The expert then often creates a nutrition log together with the parents over a longer period of time. The doctor uses the information to estimate whether the supply of individual nutrients could possibly become scarce and advises the parents on how they can compensate for the deficiency.
"Vegan nutrition for children can only work with the help of nutritional supplements and with close supervision by the pediatrician," says Kersting. She also recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding vegans consult their doctor. "They'll probably have to replace at least vitamin B12." If the doctor or nutritionist suspects that the diet is too one-sided, a blood test may be necessary. "In general, however, it is not recommended to check the blood values regularly," says Kersting.
How important is fish?
The FKE complementary food plan provides for the vegetable, potato and meat porridge to be replaced by a vegetable, potato and fish porridge once a week. "Fish is recommended as a component of complementary foods because fatty fish contains important unsaturated fatty acids," says Kersting. This could be a problem with vegetarian children.
But not only parents, also children themselves often insist on a vegetarian diet. What should mother and father pay attention to then? "I think it is counterproductive to impose dietary requirements on the child," says Kersting. "You should stay calm and rely on the knowledge that you can do it without meat." Even then, the combination of whole grains or pulses with vitamin C ensures the iron supply: for example in the form of whole wheat pasta with paprika, muesli made from oat flakes and apples or casserole made from whole grain rice with tomato salad.
"If you do not eat meat and fish, you do not have to replace protein alone; vegetable foods and milk also contain enough of these," says Kersting. "It is a myth that soy products are necessary as a meat substitute."
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