First find out her motivations for wanting to be a vegetarian – moral reasons, losing weight, healthier lifestyle, etc. and then educate her on vegetarian lifestyle options after some online research.
- Vegans exclude all animal products and dairy
- Lactovegetarians consume milk and milk products
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians include dairy products and eggs
- Macrobiotic vegetarian consumes whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, sea-weeds and occasional white meat or white fish Semi-vegetarian includes some occasional meats
Also examine all possible nutritional deficiencies to ensure proper growth. As a vegetarian, she is at greatest risk for inadequate intake of protein, fiber, long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. So help her choose foods that provide enough of these nutrients, such as a colorful array of fruits and vegetables, or select foods fortified with them. Fortified milk is an excellent source of vitamin D, as is fatty fish and sunlight. Encourage her to eat calorie-dense food and have three meals a day plus snacks to meet energy requirements. The easiest way to get the required nutrition is to include dairy products and eggs as part of the diet and a daily multi-vitamin with iron.
Jennifer J King, MD
Greenwood Pediatrics Southwest
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