Nutrition experts say children who want to be vegetarians need to "fill in the blanks" of their low-protein diets with alternatives to red meat, fish and poultry.
They say soybeans, fortified soy milk and nuts are good sources of the protein, iron, zinc, calcium and vitamin D that most kids get from meat.
They also recommend nutritional yeast, which has a cheesy flavor and the much-needed vitamin B-12, while flaxseed is good for linolenic acid.
One pediatric nutrition specialist notes that vegetarian children who eat eggs and dairy products will most likely get all the nutrition they need. But Dr. David Ludwig of Children's Hospital Boston says those who become vegan, abstaining from dairy, need to be more diligent to avoid "nutrient deficiencies."
The American Dietetic Association says children can start on a vegetarian diet from birth, but breast milk or an iron-fortified formula are necessary in the first six months. It says soy-based formula is an option.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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