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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My husband and I went vegetarian shortly after our daughter (who is now 2 years old) was born, so she's only had meat about three times on "accident" (forgetful family members, etc). I'd planned on raising her completely vegetarian until she was old enough to make the choice for herself but I've been having doubts. I'm concerned about her health and the effect this might have on her growing body. I wasn't concerned before, I think it's because I've been frustrated lately and contemplating giving up the lifestyle all together-- it's just so hard not being able to eat "normally", like everyone else, you know? I don't have much support (even my husband recently expressed concern for her health) and I don't know ANY vegetarians personally. All I ever hear is how she's not getting enough protein, iron, B-12, etc etc. So I imagine that's where this new found concern is coming from.

I want to start her on some kind of vitamin or something. I just want to KNOW that she's getting everything she needs. She's a picky eater so far but I think over the course of a week she's getting a pretty wide variety of foods. We definitely are NOT "junk-food vegetarians"; I make plenty of healthy meals and have healthy snack options available in the house.

Did anyone else go through this? Should I be concerned? Any advice (or book recommendations!) would be great!

 

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I'm not a vegetarian but I have friends who are or have been. I think there are a lot of children, vegetarian or not, who don't get all they need in their diets. I don't think there's anything wrong with giving children multi-vitamins. Mine are omnivores, teenagers, and NOT picky eaters....and I still have them take vitamins.

(I also wanted to add that I am from Wahiawa, HI....lived there for 16 of my first 18 years.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, I know what you mean. I know people who's children only ever eat chicken nuggets, but they don't seem to get NEAR as much grief from other people concerning their child's diet. I just need like-minded people to reassure me that I'm not damaging her in any way. If I am, tell me, and I'll fix it!
 

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I'm assuming you're not a vegan.

From what I gather, vegetarians don't have to worry so much about getting enough protein as they do getting the right protein. There are 20 amino acids essential for life, and 9 of them have to be obtained from food. Meats, eggs, and dairy foods are "complete" proteins....meaning that they have all nine amino acids.

You can get those amino acids from plant based foods, but plant based proteins are not "complete." So, you have to pair foods which carry certain amino acids with foods that carry the rest, because they work together to build protein in your body.

Anyway, you can't get protein from a vitamin pill, so you just have to be conscientious about how you eat. A picky child might not be getting proper protein, since the different amino acids have to be consumed within a certain time-frame in order to work properly.

I did read that nearly 30% of lacto-ovo-vegetarian females are iron deficient, but I don't know if that's in childhood or as adults, or both. I think iron could be difficult to get with a plant-based diet, and a supplement should be taken, IMO. Also, iron absorption depends upon other vitamins....so if you're eating iron-rich foods but have low vitamin C intake, your body will not benefit from the iron.

I hope this helps a bit. I'm not what you'd call a "like-minded" person, because my family has never been vegetarian and probably never will be, but I don't knock those who practice it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, open-minded and accepting are just as good as like-minded, haha. Thanks for all your help.

Does anyone have any suggestions on a good vitamin I could give her? I'm not as much worried about protein as I am iron and B-12. I'm pretty certain she's getting enough of everything else. We used to have B-12 tablets but I wasn't sure if I could give them to her (can you get too much?) so I'd rather give her something that comes with specific directions on usage.

Can anyone come in here and post something like, "I raised all my kids vegetarian, and they're doing great!" lol. Maybe that seems silly, I just need to know other people are doing this.
 

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I have four children ages 9 to 2 who are the healthiest kids I know, and they have been vegetarian (with very little dairy) for their entire lives. The "complete protein" worry is mostly a myth. It was started when Francis Moore Lappe book Diet for a Small Planet came out. In her revised version, she debunked the myth, but it has perpetuated.
Protein is in EVERYTHING. People tend to think that vegetables don't have protein, but most green actually have a higher percentage of protein that beef. As for iron, the only time I have ever had a problem with iron is when I was an omnivore (you'll hear that from many, many people, too!). Iron deficiency usually comes from a poor diet, and if you're eating a whole foods diet, you are all most likely getting all the iron you need. If you're concerned, do a little research about which plant foods are high in iron and make sure you're fixing those! Also, making sure to eat some with vitamin C when you eat the iron will help you absorb more of it. I'm sorry you're catching crap from people. People really have trouble accepting things they don't understand or aren't used to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks a bunch, ColoradoMama! It's just hard being the only different one, you know? I'm different enough being pretty "crunchy" but at least I know other people who nurse, delay solids, cosleep, etc.
 

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We are veg and so is everyone in our household minus one (6 adults and one baby) I bought and sometimes give ds Floradix for kids, it tastes good and is made from plant sources, I usually just forget to give it to him because its not my prime concern.

There are many books out there for "raising a vegetarian child"

Is your dd showing any signs of "health" problems or are you simply speculating that she's not getting enough xyz?

I know we did an iron test recently on ds when he had his lead serum levels tested, so that's an easy one to have tested. you can ask you ped to test her viatmin levels and whatnot if it will give you piece of mind
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
She's not showing any signs of being unhealthy or lacking in any way. I'm generally a pretty worry-free parent in the way I do things. We don't take her to regular WBVs because we don't vaccinate. I only take her in when she's more sick than I'm able to handle (has happened once).

So I'm not TOO terribly worried right now. But I know people lacking B-12 and other things won't start showing signs until later and I would feel like the worst mom ever if this were to happen.

I guess I can see now that I'm worried over nothing. It happens sometimes, I guess. Everyone just needs a little reassurance that they're doing what's best for their children now and again. I think I'm going to look into a book for this as soon as we can make it over to the bookstore. Maybe we'll go today.
 

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Considering how much B-12 is in the standalone supplements, you can give it to her every other day with no worries. Some will even take it less often, but I'd go with every other day just to be sure. It won't hurt anyway.

If she eats any cereals, she's getting iron. Most kids will at least eat that. If you want to add iron to everything you cook just to play it safe, invest in cast iron cookware. It'll probably last her entire lifetime if not longer. Legumes also contain iron. Keep in mind that she needs 7mg/day. Look up some of the things she eats here:
http://www.nutritiondata.com/

I eat enough iron daily in just legumes. So I think if your diet includes enough of the right foods, you're fine.
 

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I worry about this for myself - not iron so much (cause we cook w/cast iron too), but the minerals that require some other vitamins/minerals to get into my system. I do use Braggs to increase the amount of aminos I get, and eat as many legumes (like moong beans and lentils) as I can. I sort of chuck them into a LOT of stuff, sauces etc. they just kinda melt in. I'm not a junk food veggie either, I know there are some nutrients I'm low on (D3 for example), so I do take a supplement. I use either Floradix or Buried Treasure, depending on what's on sale/available for us when we run low. I know you can use both with children, though 2 is kinda young. Is she still nursing? If she's still nursing, she's likely to be getting a LOT of nutrients from you.

I think getting the kind of support you are talking about, you should try looking for a health food coop around you, or checking out a farm share farm, or a mom's (AP type) group maybe? It IS important to get some support, have a friend who is like minded. Time to go find one! or two?
I'm in a similar boat here, but I work at a hfs coop part time (for my hours, 3 a week), and it's been a real boon to keeping my morale up.

Hang in there till then - use this forum a LOT, and get going making some new friends! Sometimes if you hang out on the fringes you will find others who are also making their way in the world on a different path than most Americans. GL!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by mamabeca View Post
Is she still nursing? If she's still nursing, she's likely to be getting a LOT of nutrients from you.
I think this is another reason I've been more worried. She's still nursing, but my milk dried up a few months ago (for a few reasons). I never worried about nutrition too much before because I had breastfeeding to fall back on, but now I don't.
 

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I haave 4 cousins in their 30's who are lifelong vegetarians. My brother's partner is a lifelong vegetarian. All of them are completely healthy. One cousin did go back to being a lacto-ovo vegetarian from a vegan diet because she was having trouble maintaining her weight tandem-nursing her two older kids while pregnant with the third. All 3 kids are vegetarian, and thriving.

If your child is vegan, she needs a B-12 supplement. You should be sure that she is eating iron containing foods like broccoli, kale, whole grains, and is not ONLY eating fruit, wheat flour and rice.

You can manage a lot of nutritional insurance with hemp seeds, sesame seeds, and nut butters.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by 2xy View Post
I'm assuming you're not a vegan.

From what I gather, vegetarians don't have to worry so much about getting enough protein as they do getting the right protein. There are 20 amino acids essential for life, and 9 of them have to be obtained from food. Meats, eggs, and dairy foods are "complete" proteins....meaning that they have all nine amino acids ...

... since the different amino acids have to be consumed within a certain time-frame in order to work properly.

While this was thought to be true at one time, more research and more recent studies have shown it to be incorrect.

You can get protein deficiencies if your ONLY source of protein is, for example, corn or rice, but as long as you are getting enough calories and eating some complementary foods, you are going to be fine. Protein deficiency is not something that is seen in a vegetarian eating even a moderately varied diet, it is a disease of anorexics and alcoholics.
 
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