There’s no right or wrong way to compose your little one’s diet. As long as the meals are nutritionally adept then they’ll be sufficient.
Some people choose to feed their toddlers a plant-based diet. Put simply, a plant-based diet for toddlers is one that maximises whole plant foods (e.g. vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes). It discourages the consumption of animal-based products as well as reﬁned and processed foods.
Is a plant-based diet healthy for toddlers?
A plant-based diet is healthy and safe for toddlers; as long as it’s well-balanced and full of variety. Some well-respected organisations, like The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, have even released statements to conﬁrm this (Melina, Craig and Levin, 2016).
Many cultures are even predominantly plant-based and have been for centuries. For example, India has one of the highest number of vegetarians in the world.
Reasons to consider plant-based food for toddlers
There are a multitude of reasons that people choose to follow a plant-based diet.
- A plant-based diet is often healthier. Most vitamins and minerals come from plants, so by feeding your little one a plant-based diet, you're often giving them a wider array of nutrients.
- With the rising cost of living one tempting reason is that vegetables, fruits and pulses are often cheaper than a meat-based diet.
- Another factor, one that is quite topical, is the lower environmental impact of a plant-based diet.
- One of the most attractive reasons to me, as a nutritionist, is that you’re setting up your child with sustainable habits for the future. By teaching them from an early age the array of flavours, textures and nutrients that come from plants.
Things to consider with plant-based diets for kids:
When feeding your young child a plant-based diet there are some considerations to take into account:
- Little ones have quite small stomachs, yet need a high amount of energy to fuel all their growth. So, it’s important to ensure the plant-based diet isn’t too high in fibre. Fibrous foods can be very filling and thus reduce the calories they can consume.
- The key micronutrients of concern are iron, vitamin A and vitamin D. As long as one is aware of these and ensures the diet supports this, then the infant shouldn’t have any deficiencies.
A plant-based diet is a good concept though to introduce your little one to a broad selection of textures and flavours to set them up with good habits for life. This also helps your little one discover the world of food and some even say it helps to prevent them from becoming fussy eaters. Additionally, these shapes and textures are great to help toddlers develop their motor skills; which aids their development.
Another strong reason to follow a more plant-based diet for your toddler is that research has shown that vegetarian children tend to be leaner and this reduces their risk of developing obesity and the associated health risks later in life (Sabaté and Wien, 2010). Sabaté and Wien (2010) conclude that vegetarian diets should be followed for optimal health.
"Research has shown that vegetarian children tend to be leaner and this reduces their risk of developing obesity and the associated health risks later in life"
Well-planned and executed plant-based diets can provide your toddler with all the nutrients it needs to grow and develop. Starting your little one on some of My Veggie Bubba’s meals can help to introduce a well-balanced plant-based diet and prepare them for optimal health in adulthood.
Melina, V., Craig, W. and Levin, S., 2016. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(12), pp.1970-1980.