Men and women are watching what they are putting into their bodies more than ever, so it comes as no surprise to see an increase in these same trends flowing into kid’s menus – especially vegetarian and vegan dishes. There is a debate, however, as to whether these diets are adequate for children, who require specific nutrients for growth and brain development. Experts are concerned that these healthy eating trends without medical requirement could lead to malnutrition as well as deficiencies and an unhealthy relationship with food.
“We would never recommend excluding anything without good medical reasons,” said Lucy Upton, a paediatric dietician.
While there is disagreement between advocates for vegetarian and vegan diets and the inverse, experts believe that it is possible to provide adequate nourishment for children—it just has to be planned well and researched.
“It can be done, but just not on a whim,” said Mary Fewtrell, a professor of paediatric nutrition at the University College London. “Children need to have supplements, for example for vitamin B12, as they won’t get their full requirement from food.” In addition to nourishment, energy levels remain a concern. “Vegetables contain a lot of fibre, so if a child is filling up on these, they might not end up consuming enough high calorie, high protein foods.”