Parents feed baby vegan diet

Vegan parents 'starved toddler to death after feeding him only raw fruit and vegetables'

Sheila and Ryan O’Leary were charged with negligent manslaughter after their 18-month-old toddler died of malnutrition. (Picture: Lee County Sheriff’s Office)

A toddler starved to death after his vegan parents fed him almost nothing but raw fruit and vegetables and at one point only breast milk for a week, despite his obviously weakening state.

Ryan O’Leary, 30, and Sheila O’Leary, 35, were arrested last week in Cape Coral, Florida after their 18-month-old son died on September 27 weighing only 17 pounds, which is the weight of an average seven-month-old.

An autopsy found that the toddler died after suffering complications related to malnutrition, including dehydration, microsteatosis of liver and swelling of hands, feet and legs, Cape Coral police said in a statement.

Sheila O’Leary called 911 after she found the boy cold and not breathing. Ryan O’Leary tried to resuscitate the child, but he was unsuccessful. Paramedics arrived and pronounced the boy dead.

Police later spoke with the couple and noted that two of their children, aged 3 and 5, were pale and yellowish in color, the News-Press reported.

Authorities weighed the children and found they were in the very bottom weight range for their age. One of the children also had blackened teeth, indicating decay.

Police said the O’Learys had a third female child with them who appeared the healthiest. They later found that child was Sheila O’Leary’s daughter with a different father who lives in Virginia.

The soldiers banned from the WWI frontline because of the colour of their skin

That child reportedly visits her father for a few weeks every two months. Police said they believe that contributed her healthier appearance.

Sheila O’Leary told police that her family is vegan and only eats raw fruits and vegetables. She said that she also breast fed her toddler, adding that the toddler had not eaten solid food in a week and had only been breast fed.

On the day the boy died, Sheila said she nursed her son for about a minute before he started exhibiting shallow breathing. She said she should have called someone – but instead fell asleep with her husband.

The soldiers banned from the WWI frontline because of the colour of their skin

The boy’s cause of death was determined on November 6. Shortly after, the O’Learys turned themselves in.

They charged with aggravated negligent manslaughter among other charges and are being held in jail until their arraignment on December 9.

The NHS advises a vegan or vegetarian diet is suitable for babies and children but parents must ensure the child is receiving sufficient nutrients and calories.

Supplements may be required and parents are advised to talk to health professionals for further advice.


Advice on introducing your baby to solid foods from around 6 months is the same for vegetarian and vegan babies as it is for non-vegetarian babies.

Babies and young children on a vegetarian or vegan diet can get the energy and most of the nutrients they need to grow and develop from a well-planned varied and balanced diet.

But they might need specific supplements (such as vitamin B12) in addition to the usual vitamin supplements recommended for all babies. Talk to a health professional for advice.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is found in animal foods, including eggs, cheese and milk.

If your baby or child has a vegan diet or a vegetarian diet that does not include dairy or eggs, they’ll need to take a supplement that contains vitamin B12 or eat foods fortified with B12.

Foods that may be fortified with vitamin B12 include:

-breakfast cereals
– yoghurts and milk alternatives, such as soya, oat, coconut and almond drinks
– Always check the labels as not all these products are fortified, especially organic versions.

Vitamin B12 can also be found in some yeast extracts, which is suitable for vegans (choose a brand with no added salt for your baby).


In the UK, fish, cows’ milk and other dairy products are the main sources of iodine in our diet.

Iodine can also be found in plant foods, such as cereals and grains, but the levels vary depending on the amount of iodine in the soil where the plants are grown.

Some seaweed and kelp products contain iodine, but these are not recommended as they can provide very high amounts of iodine, which may be harmful.

If your baby or child has a vegan diet or a vegetarian diet that does not include dairy, a supplement can provide a reliable source of iodine.


Omega 3 fatty acids are mainly found in oily fish like salmon and mackerel.

If your child does not eat fish, other sources of omega 3 include:

flaxseed (linseed) oil or ground linseeds
walnuts – give children under 5 years walnuts that have been ground up to reduce the risk of choking
ground chia seeds and hemp seeds
eggs enriched with omega-3
Evidence suggests that vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids may not have the same benefits for reducing the risk of heart disease as those in oily fish.



You can make sure your child gets enough iron by giving them:

– beans, chickpeas and lentils
– seeds and nuts – offer these ground or as a nut butter for children under 5 years to reduce the risk of choking
– dark green vegetables
– wholegrains like wholemeal bread and brown rice
– fortified cereals
– dried fruit, such as apricots, figs and prunes (offer these with meals, rather than as a snack between meals, to help prevent tooth decay)
– calcium
– Milk and dairy products are a good source of calcium, which is important for bones and teeth.

Whole cows’ milk can be used for cooking from 6 months and offered as a main drink from 1 year old.

You can give your child unsweetened calcium-fortified milk alternatives, such as soya, oat or almond drinks, from the age of 12 months as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Children under 5 years should not have rice drinks as a substitute for breast milk or infant formula because they may contain too much arsenic.

Other sources of calcium include:

– pulses (such as beans, lentils and chickpeas)
– tahini
– almond butter
– calcium-set tofu
– dried figs
– bread
– green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and okra
Some foods are also fortified with calcium, so check the labels.


Good sources of protein for children who eat some animal foods include:

– dairy
– fish
– eggs
Good sources of protein from plant foods include:

– beans, chickpeas, lentils and soya products, and foods made from them, such as hummus, tofu and soya mince
– seeds and nuts – offer these ground or as a smooth butter for children under 5 years to reduce the risk of choking

Peanuts, nuts and allergies

If your child already has a diagnosed food allergy, or there’s a history of allergies in their immediate family (including asthma, eczema or hayfever), talk to your health visitor or GP before offering them foods containing peanuts or nuts for the first time.

Is your child getting enough calories?

Young children need a good variety of foods to provide the energy (calories) and nutrients they need to grow and develop.

A vegetarian or vegan diet can be high in fibre. This can mean your child feels full up before they have taken in enough calories and nutrients.

When it comes to starchy foods, in addition to the higher fibre wholegrain and wholemeal versions, your child should have some lower fibre foods, such as white bread and rice, until they’re 5 years old.

If you’re concerned your child is not getting enough energy, offer them higher calorie foods, such as hummus, smooth nut and seed butters or full-fat yoghurt (dairy or dairy alternatives), and use vegetable oils or vegan fat spreads in cooking.

Vitamins for children

The Department of Health recommends that all children aged 6 months to 5 years are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day.

It’s also recommended that babies who are being breastfed are given a daily vitamin D supplement from birth, whether or not you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.

Babies who are having more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day do not need vitamin supplements because formula is fortified with nutrients.

Vitamin D2 is suitable for babies and children who have a vegan diet, and you can also get supplements containing vitamin D3 that comes from lichen.

A health visitor can give you advice on vitamin drops for babies and young children.

MORE : ”[Source:


Vegan parents starved baby of nutrients, gave her cerebral palsy, court told


  • National
  • Victoria
  • Crime

This was published 2 years ago

By David Estcourt

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Two parents whose strict vegan practices starved their baby of nutrients to such an extent that she eventually developed cerebral palsy repeatedly ignored medical advice that their plant-based diet would not sufficiently nourish their young child.

The parents pleaded guilty in the County Court on Friday to negligently causing serious injury after a lengthy period where they oversaw the gradual deterioration of their one-year-old baby's health.

In August 2018, the child's father and grandmother rushed her to Geelong Hospital, where she was found to have widespread bruising, discoloured skin, rashes covering her body and multiple open wounds.

Doctors admitted the infant to intensive care and transported her to the Royal Children’s Hospital, where it was later found she was bleeding internally, had blood in her stool, was underweight and required life-support measures.

The baby stayed in intensive care for a month.

Prosecutor Justin Lewis told the court that doctors found that the symptoms were entirely related to the child's malnourishment and that the cerebral palsy – a debilitating disability from which the baby now sufferers – came from the malnutrition.

Mr Lewis said doctors commented that the condition of the child was often found in newborns in countries experiencing famine.

Clinical Director of the Royal Children’s Hospital Rehabilitation Service, Dr Neil Wimalasundera, reviewed the child's medical records and saw her as a patient.

He concluded that “[the baby] has cerebral palsy as a result of brain injury secondary to malnutrition” according to court documents.

County Court judge Claire Quin heard on Friday that the parents had clashed with healthcare professionals, who repeatedly told them a plant-based diet was inadvisable for a baby.


The parents, who appeared remotely via videolink, listened intently to proceedings as both of their lawyers asked Judge Quin to spare them jail.

The pair eventually disengaged from healthcare services altogether, feeling as though mainstream medicine “did not understand them”.

The two have since had a second child, but have separated.

Barrister Jane Warren said the mother was a more “passive” parent, and that an uneven power imbalance meant the father was making almost all of the decisions about their young baby's the nutrition.

But barrister for the father, Julia Munster, rejected this.

Ms Munster told the court the father, who was the primary adherent to the vegan diet, did not trust orthodox medical science and sought nutritional substitutes from overseas.

Judge Quin accepted that the couple had been told by medical professionals that the diet they had planned for their daughter was “not going to work for their infant”.

“These parents, they weren’t 19 or 20 years old, they were in their early 30s,” Judge Quin said.

“They’re told that what they’re contemplating isn’t going to work for their infant, but they continue to do it.”

The child, who is now three, lives with her mother and requires several allied health professionals for her care.

The court suppressed the identities of the parents after lawyers successfully argued that publicising their names may affect their reputation among parents in their area, given they are members of children’s groups.

Mr Lewis was emotional as he read the investigator's summary of evidence against the pair.

Mr Lewis told the court that, upon struggling to find appropriate vegan formula, the father made his own out of dates, fruit and other vegetables. He has now adjusted his own diet and eats meat.

Mr Lewis also detailed a clash the parents had with a nurse who, concerned with the health of their child, considered escalating the matter as she had not heard from the parents for an extended period.

The parents responded to her concerned emails and texts with a threat, saying they were considering lodging a complaint against her and her emails were “uncalled for” and that they were “interpreted as threatening” towards the pair.

Mr Lewis also described text message exchanges showing how the parents mocked a media report which was critical of parents who put their infants on an all-vegan diet.

Ms Munster said her client’s moral culpability was “towards the lower range of seriousness” and that he had experienced depression and anxiety in the wake of his child’s illness.

They will be sentenced later this month

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Is it possible for children to be vegan than to feed a vegetarian child

Fashion for a healthy lifestyle and the attention with which the younger generation relates to environmental issues encourage some teenagers to refuse animal food.

For non-vegetarian parents, a child's refusal to eat meat causes anxiety. Is it possible to grow healthy and strong on vegetables? How to feed the child now, and most importantly - how to build relationships with him? In this article, we will find answers to these and other questions. nine0004

What types of vegetarian diets exist

Usually, the word "vegetarianism" means ovolacto-vegetarianism - a diet that excludes meat, fish and seafood, but does not prohibit eggs, honey, milk and any products containing them.

A less strict variant of pescatarianism - allows fish and seafood, but prohibits eggs and milk.

The strictest type of vegetarianism is veganism. It means avoiding any food of animal origin, including fish, eggs, and honey. Such a diet is followed, as a rule, for ethical reasons. nine0003

And the easiest one is flexitarianism. This diet does not exclude meat, but reduces its consumption to a minimum.

Is it possible for children to be vegetarians

European and American studies show that the level of health and development of children who are vegetarians from birth does not differ from children who eat animal food.

According to studies by the Swiss Health Authority, the American Dietetic Association, the Dietetic Association of New Zealand, Australia and Canada, a well-balanced vegetarian diet is not only healthy, but beneficial for growing bodies. nine0003

At the same time, experts do not recommend strict vegetarianism - veganism - to children and adolescents. The British Institute of Nutrition considers veganism and a raw food diet unacceptable in adolescence, as the lack of milk and eggs in the diet can lead to a lack of protein and calcium.


In our country, the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights and Human Welfare recommends a vegetarian diet for children only on doctor's orders. Medical indications for vegetarianism can be Wilson-Konovalov's disease, some forms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and a number of other diseases. nine0003


What are the pros and cons of a vegetarian diet for children

Switching to a plant-based diet can have both positive and negative effects.


  • The diet will contain a lot of foods rich in vegetable fiber, which cleanses the body and stimulates proper bowel function.
  • Vegetarian diet includes fruits, vegetables, soups and cereals, which can be difficult for young fans of sweets and fast food. nine0051
  • Plant-based foods are lower in calories than meat-based foods, making it easier for vegetarians to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Vegetarianism encourages people to be more selective about food in general and to choose natural products.

But when changing the type of power, problems can arise.


  • Not understanding the principles of a vegetarian diet, some teenagers lean on rich pastries and sweets. These foods are rich in fast carbohydrates, their abuse threatens the risk of developing diabetes, metabolic disorders, obesity and other health problems. nine0051
  • In order for the plant food to provide the child with all the necessary vitamins and microelements, it is necessary to carefully plan the diet and follow it consciously. Not every teenager can do this.
  • In the conditions of a long Russian winter, it can be difficult to always have high-quality fruits and vegetables on the table.

How to respond to a teenager's refusal to eat meat

Together with the psychologist of Foxford Home School Elena Petrusenko we tell how to reach mutual understanding with a teenager in matters of nutrition. nine0004

Don't panic

Even if a plant-based diet isn't part of your idea of ​​a healthy diet, don't escalate the situation.

Adolescents are especially vulnerable in matters of personal boundaries . They need to be treated with respect for their decisions and interests (including gastronomy). Prohibitions, threats and any kind of manipulation can lead to psychological trauma and will not help you get closer and find a common language.
Elena Petrusenko, Foxford Home School psychologist. nine0086

Find out why

Understand why the child made the decision. Ask him what he knows about a vegetarian diet and how he plans to eat.

It is important not to argue, but to try to see the reason. If the decision of a teenager is balanced and deliberate, he will not refuse to replace meat with vegetable protein and add vitamins to the diet. And if he is driven by a desire to repeat after someone or just stand out, he is unlikely to agree to follow a diet and, most likely, out of habit, he will feel bad and may become irritable. nine0003 Elena Petrusenko, Foxford Home School psychologist.

According to a 2019 survey by the independent Zoom Market agency in Russia, 59% of vegetarians believe that such a diet is good for health, 22% follow it as a fashion trend, 11% refuse meat for ethical reasons, and 8% do not eat animal food for medical reasons. But there are cases when an eating disorder is hidden behind a teenager's refusal to eat meat. nine0003

Eating disorders arise on the basis of stress, depressive disorders, auto-aggressive tendencies, social resistance, self-rejection, rupture of relationships with the family. Eating disorders are a very important wake-up call, even if the child simply refuses to eat with the family. It is important to immediately seek help - both from doctors and a psychologist, because with such a disorder, the adolescent's body and, most importantly, the brain, receive insufficient nutrients. nine0003 Elena Petrusenko, Foxford Home School psychologist.

Discuss the type of food you eat

Talking to your child will help you understand how realistic his ideas about vegetarianism are. If a teenager thinks that he can be healthy eating only fruits, pasta and vegetarian pizza, it is important to explain to him that he is mistaken. Search the Internet with your child for authoritative recommendations on vegetarian diets, research on the effects of the chosen diet on the body and possible risks. nine0004

Cook together

Changing your teen's diet is a great opportunity to improve his culinary skills. There are hundreds of vegetarian recipes on the Internet from cuisines of different nations of the world: Mexican guacamole, Georgian lobio, Indian chutney, Middle Eastern falafel and many others. Discuss them with your child and choose something to cook together. When your child is comfortable with cooking, you can invite him to cook for himself, and sometimes make dinner for the whole family. nine0004 Source: / @pvproductions

Be understanding if vegetarianism doesn't work out

If a teenager is disappointed in his decision or the diet is bad for his health, offer to return animal products to the diet. It is important to do this gently and without ridicule like “We told you!”.

What to feed a vegetarian child

When preparing a vegetarian diet for a teenager, it is necessary to take into account that his body receives all the vitamins and microelements necessary for growth and development. Particular attention should be paid to those substances that we usually get from animal food. According to WHO recommendations, the diet must contain:

  • Fats - the main source of energy for the body. A large amount of fat is found in nuts, seeds, avocados, nut and sunflower oils.
  • Fatty amino acids are involved in protein synthesis. From their consumption depends on the work of the brain, the health of the skin, nails and hair. Plant foods are rich in omega-6 amino acids, but omega-3, the main source of which is fish and seafood, is also indispensable for the health of vision and the cardiovascular system. Vegetarians get it from flaxseed oil, walnuts, and soy. Many also take omega-3s as a dietary supplement. nine0051
  • Proteins are the building blocks of muscles and tendons. They are found in cereals, legumes and various soy products. However, the concentration of protein in plant foods is lower than in meat and fish, and it is absorbed worse. Eating dairy products can solve this problem.
  • Iron is one of the most important trace elements necessary for brain activity, nervous system and immunity. With an ill-conceived diet, vegetarian children experience iron deficiency. This is due to the fact that iron absorption is hindered by substances found in beans and whole grains. In order for vegetable iron to be more easily absorbed, a teenager should get plenty of vitamin C and avoid calcium for two hours after eating. Spinach, lentils, pistachios and sunflower seeds are the most rich in iron. nine0051
  • Calcium is a building material for teeth and bones. Its highest content is found in dairy products. If a teenager decides to give up milk, the lack should be filled with calcium-fortified drinks and oatmeal.
  • Zinc is essential for the maintenance of leukocytes in the blood, the main cells of the immune system. Nuts, legumes, whole grains, wheat germ, and tofu contain plenty of zinc.
  • Vitamin D helps keep the body in good shape, it is responsible for the health of muscles, bones, skin and good mood. It is produced in the body under the influence of the sun, and inhabitants of the northern latitudes often experience its deficiency. Milk and oily fish contain some vitamin D, and it is recommended that vegetarians take it as a D2 supplement. nine0051
  • Vitamin B12, responsible for hemoglobin, nervous system function and metabolism, is the only essential micronutrient found only in animal foods. Vegetarians get it from dietary supplements and specially fortified soy milk.

When to give up a vegetarian diet

If you notice that a vegetarian child is rapidly losing weight, becomes lethargic, irritable, often cold, or has problems with hair, nails and skin, it is urgent to take tests and consult a doctor. nine0004

Vegetarian from birth: can children do without meat

We tell you why traditional food is recommended for children, what are the risks of a "plant-based" diet, and what is the chance of growing up healthy without meat, milk and eggs. In general, they took up one of the most controversial and controversial topics - vegetarianism and children. Renata Petrosyan, endocrinologist, head physician of the Chaika clinic, and Fedor Katasonov, pediatrician at GMS Clinic, author of the book “Pediatrics. Non-anxious approach to the child. nine0004

From a health point of view, any dietary restrictions are a risk factor. There is no single food that fully satisfies our nutritional needs. That is why in the foreign

and Russian

official recommendations

regarding the diet of children, we are talking about a varied diet, which, among other things, includes lean meat.

However, there is evidence that a well-planned vegan and vegetarian diet is suitable even for breastfeeding mothers and young children. True, not all pediatricians share this opinion, because it is quite difficult to develop a complete children's diet with food restrictions, partly because the need for nutrients is highly dependent on age. nine0004

Let's take a look at the problems parents face when they decide to put their child on a plant-based diet.

Vegetarian diet for children under three years old

Vegetarianism and the impact of this style of eating on the health of children began to be studied 30 years ago. In 1988, British researchers

observed for several years

the growth and development of children (from one to five years old) who followed a vegan diet. Most vegan children grew normally but tended to be smaller and weigh less than their peers. The intake of calcium and vitamin D in these children was below the recommended norm. Despite the fact that the diet of the study participants was generally adequate and well-planned, some of them still received little vitamins B2 and B12. Later

study 2017

confirmed these findings.

The main source of protein and nutrients for babies under six months is breast milk, and for vegan babies, soy formula. According to the recommendations of American doctors, children who are exclusively breastfed and whose mothers (vegetarians) do not take nutritional supplements should receive additional vitamin B12. And infants and infants who get less than one liter of soy formula should get extra vitamin D.

Recommendations for introducing solid foods to vegetarian and non-vegetarian children are the same. Children over six months of age should receive iron from fortified foods.

Vegetarian babies over six months of age can use mashed tofu, cottage cheese, milk or soy yogurt, mashed beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils as a protein source.

Things to consider when planning meals for a vegan child

Possible deficiency of essential nutrients . The stricter the vegetarian diet,

the higher the risks


Vegetarian diets for adults are not suitable for young children . As a rule, adult vegetarians tend to consume low-fat and low-calorie foods, which at the same time take up a lot of space in the stomach. Such food allows you to feel full and not overeat. The volume of the stomach of a child 1-3 years old is only 200-300 ml. On a vegetarian diet, children fill their stomach too quickly and stop feeling hungry long before they get all the necessary nutrients. nine0004

Renata Petrosyan

endocrinologist, chief physician of the clinic "Chaika"

Due to the small stomach volume and low-energy food, vegetarian children may receive fewer calories than they need. To avoid this, you need to organize three main meals and three snacks a day.

Please note: children under two years of age should not be restricted in fat. Fat-free foods are not suitable for them.

Children don't like many products. Healthy vegetarian diets require variety. If a child agrees to eat only pears and carrots, but refuses beans and other foods that contain a lot of vegetable protein, he simply does not have enough “building material” for normal development.

Fedor Katasonov

pediatrician, author of the book “Pediatrics. Non-anxious approach to the child"

- If parents are willing to ensure that the child's diet is balanced and observed by a doctor, then the risks of a vegetarian and vegan diet can be minimized. Children in general eat very differently in different parts of the world and generally feel good. nine0004

I have a patient who is a vegan from birth. Now he is four years old, he rides a skateboard, snowboarding and generally everything he sees. I don't see any health issues with him.

If parents clearly understand how to raise a vegan child, realize that it is important to take additional vitamins with this diet, and are ready to comply with all prescriptions and dietary recommendations - there are no objections. As in any business, the main thing is a conscious approach.

Vegetarian diet for elementary school children and teenagers

In 1999, researchers in Brussels examined the health status of 82 vegetarian children and adolescents and concluded that they were developing well. True, some vegetarians were thin and not as strong as their peers. Nevertheless, the results obtained are not enough to argue that a vegetarian child will certainly grow up thin and weak.

Renata Petrosyan

endocrinologist, chief physician of the clinic "Chaika" nine0004

“There is no convincing evidence that limiting the consumption of meat and other animal products in children always results in thinness, short stature, or developmental delay.

Vegetarian diet is suitable for children of any age, as long as their weight is not below the 15th percentile (meaning that only 15% of children of this age have this weight. If the weight of the child is below the 15th percentile, that is, he is thin, it is not worth anything was to limit the choice of food).

For some adolescents, the choice of a severe restrictive diet may be a sign of an eating disorder. nine0004

If a teenager's body mass index is less than the 15th percentile, a doctor should be consulted regarding the safety of any diet.

In summary, we can say that a vegetarian diet for schoolchildren and adolescents has advantages and disadvantages. In general, most researchers believe that

the younger the child and the stricter his diet

, the higher the risk that he will not have enough vitamins and complete protein. nine0004

However, this does not mean that a teenager's vegetarian diet needs to be planned less carefully than an infant's menu: despite the fact that adolescents have less need for certain nutritional components, getting enough of them is still very important.

What parents need to know

The diet of the child must be carefully considered. It is important to understand what food and in what quantity a young vegetarian needs in order to grow and develop normally. nine0004

Renata Petrosyan

endocrinologist, chief physician of the clinic "Chaika"

- Veganism requires much more attention from parents due to the likely deficiency of elements. At the same time, lacto-vegetarianism (of all products of animal origin, only milk and dairy products can be consumed. - Approx. ed. ) is healthier in general and carries fewer risks.

Fats . For children over two years of age, foods containing a sufficient amount of fat are nuts, seeds, nut and sunflower oils, avocados. nine0004

Fatty amino acids . A vegetarian diet is rich in omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. However, for the health of the cardiovascular system, vision and brain, you also need to get omega-3 acids. Flaxseed oil, walnuts, rapeseed, and soy contain adequate amounts of omega-3s.

Protein . Plant foods are poor in proteins, and children need to grow up. In addition, proteins from plants are absorbed worse than from meat or fish. Parents need to combine different foods to provide the child with all the necessary amino acids. Adding dairy or soy solves this problem. However, very young vegan children will be deficient in the amino acid methionine. In this case, methionine-enriched baby food will help ensure adequate protein intake. nine0004

Iron . Vegetarian teenagers often have iron deficiency - the more restrictive (veganism), the more common it is. Here are its possible manifestations:

  • developmental delay;
  • frequent colds;
  • muscle weakness;
  • behavioral problems.

The iron found in meat (heme) is much better absorbed than non-heme iron from plant foods. Iron absorption is hindered by tannins from black tea and phytinates, which are abundant in beans, seeds, whole grains, and soy. nine0004

In order for iron to be absorbed from plant foods, your child should be given enough foods with vitamin C (ascorbic acid).

Calcium . Children get calcium mainly from dairy products. If milk is excluded from the diet, it is necessary to include drinks or cereals fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

Vitamin D. Children under one year of age need at least 15 mcg of the vitamin per day. This amount can be obtained from fatty fish or fortified soy or cow's milk. nine0004

Children who are rarely exposed to the sun and do not receive fortified foods, as well as children under one year of age living in northern latitudes, are recommended to take a supplement with plant-based vitamin D2 - ergocalciferol.

Newborns need 10 mcg (400 IU) of the vitamin per day, and vegetarian children aged 1 to 18 years need 15 mcg (600 IU).

Vitamin B12 is not available in a vegetarian diet. This is a product of exclusively animal origin. Vegans can get vitamin B12 from fortified soy milk or take a vitamin supplement. nine0004

Do vegetarian children need to be tested for vitamins

Parents of young vegetarians often seek to monitor vitamin levels through blood tests. But such tests are often not necessary for children.

Renata Petrosyan

endocrinologist, chief physician of the clinic "Chaika"

- Children are sent for examination only if the observing pediatrician has doubts that the child receives enough vitamins. nine0004

Taking tests just like that, without a doctor's prescription, is a waste of money.

What is the result

There are no insurmountable obstacles to vegetarianism or even veganism from childhood. Moreover, there are studies demonstrating that there are benefits from such diets. For example, people who follow a well-planned

plant-based diet are less likely to suffer from obesity, coronary disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

Learn more