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Vegetarianism can be introduced from childhood. In the face of the obesity epidemic and civilization diseases, switching to a diet devoid of animal products gives you a chance to stay he althy for a long time. Prof. Janusz Książyk, a pediatrician from the Children's Memorial He alth Institute, explains the advantages of not eating animal products.

A vegetarian diet , when practiced correctly, is he althy - this has been confirmed by scientific research. Alsovegetarianism for children , once considered inadvisable, turned out to be a bull's-eye.

  • Can children be vegetarian?
    Prof. Janusz Książyk: Of course. But even 20 years ago, such a model of feeding a child was considered an act of aggression on the part of parents. For this reason, there were even lawsuits, because doctors believed that it led to permanent he alth detriment. Today we know that vegetarianism, when practiced correctly, is he althy at all stages of life.

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The vegetarian diet comes from India and the Middle East. It is based primarily on the consumption of plant products. There are several types of it:

  • Lakoto-ovo-vegetarianism- apart from plants, it allows the consumption of dairy products and eggs
  • Ovo-vegetarianism- allows for the consumption of eggs in addition to plants
  • Lacto-vegetarianism- allows for the consumption of dairy products in addition to plants
  • Veganism- only plants allowed, all animal products are eliminated from the diet
  • What is the evidence that vegetarianism does not harm children?
    J.K .: The first is that traditional diets have led to an epidemic of obesity and the related obesity adult diseases (e.g. diabetes, hypertension). The second is that people who are physically active on a vegetarian or vegan diet have a much better quality of life and are less likely to suffer from ischemic heart disease, hypertension or obesity. This is evidenced by the results of research conducted, among others on the Japanese island of Okinawa. They showed that people who are physically active and maintain this style of eating live longer than the average citizens of other regions of the world. Besides, it has already appeared on this topicmany scientific studies, incl. in the Netherlands, Sweden, and the USA, where a plant-based diet is officially recommended for reducing the risk of adult disease, and related counseling is reimbursed by the state.
  • What is the attitude towards vegan children in Poland?
    J.K .: According to the existing nutritional recommendations, a vegan diet is still considered irrational, incl. due to possible protein deficiencies. Meanwhile, research conducted by the Children's Memorial He alth Institute shows that the consumption of this ingredient by vegetarian or vegan children remains normal or exceeds it significantly. The belief in a diet deficient is therefore based on belief rather than knowledge. The aforementioned research also shows that the physical development of such children is harmonious and within the normal range ( although they are generally thinner than their peers), and that their intellectual development slightly exceeds this norm. So there are no threats.
  • What are some other myths about a vegetarian diet?
    JK .: For example, plant proteins lack certain amino acids. Meanwhile, we already know that all unprocessed plant products contain these amino acids, you just need to consume them in the right amounts. According to the U.S. Food and Nutrition Council, a diet containing complementary plant proteins can provide the same protein quality as animal products. The American Dietetic Association notes that these complementary proteins do not need to be consumed in one meal, but throughout the day.
  • What about vitamins in a vegetarian diet?
    J.K .: Vitamin B12should be supplied in the form of a supplement, because its only animal products are the source. Plant products contain only inactive analogues of this vitamin, therefore its deficiencies are found in approx. 60 percent. vegetarians and vegans who do not reach for supplementation, which may lead, among others, to for anemia and neurological disorders. In addition, you also need to take vitamin D. It should be done especially by those who do not sunbathe, because in people who sunbathe, it is stored in the skin, which provides it with supplies for several months. The rules for supplementing vitamin D are the same for everyone: the daily dose should be 400-800 units. The older a man, the more he needs it, because proper supply protects, among others against pathological bone fractures.
  • And iron in a vegetarian diet? After all, its best source is animal products.
    J.K .: This is another myth. In 100 mg of beef, there are 2 mg of iron, and inpumpkin and sesame seeds - 15 mg, in tofu and white beans - 10 mg. It is the same with calcium. Two glasses of milk or two slices of cheese contain the same amount of calcium as 100 grams of white beans or 5 dried figs. They also contain much less saturated fat and cholesterol.

The Polish Society of Dietetics recalls:
vegetarian diet is based not only on the exclusion of animal products, but the correct selection of plant products that are a good source of nutrients.

  • What should parents of a young vegetarian remember?
    J.K .: First of all, that every child has individual nutritional needs depending on on birth weight and development rate. On this basis, the necessary amount of individual nutrients is determined. Dietary advice must also take into account the we alth of your wallet. A vegetarian diet is not cheap. Combining certain plants in several meals and supplementing with vitamin B12 costs more than meat products. A sample breakfast for a 3.5-year-old boy would look like this: millet with sesame, dates, raisins, figs and cinnamon, and an apple, banana, linseed and a vitamin B12 tablet. A lunch: buckwheat with lentils, ratatouille sauce, green olives, carrot and apple salad.
  • How to combine products to make the diet wholesome?
    J.K .: There is no one menu that is good for everyone. Dietary advice must be tailored to the individual patient. The basis of the diet are products containing the right amount of calcium, protein and unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. A proper vegetarian diet requires knowledge. You can use the advice of specialists in this regard or learn this art yourself. Vegetarian and vegan diets tend to be more nutritious and therefore make more informed mockery choices than ordinary diets who often eat "junk".

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