Children following an ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet show a similar growth rate to Non-vegetarian children.

Those following a vegan diet tend to be slightly smaller and lighter, but within normal limits. Slower growth has been found where very restricted diets are concerned.

Vegetarians can meet their energy and nutritional requirements by eating regular meals, eating snacks between meals, including some refined foods in their diet, such as fortified breakfast cereals, bread and pasta, and foods higher in unsaturated fats. If foods such as vegetable oils, avocado pears, seeds, nut butters and legumes are included, both objectives can be achieved: nutrients and calories.

Dried fruits are also a concentrated source of energy and very popular with this age group.

Children with strict vegetarian diets could have a slightly higher requirement for protein than non-vegetarians and ovo-lacto-vegetarians, owing to the lower digestibility of vegetable protein. Sources of protein in a strict vegetarian diet are: soya, quinoa, legumes, (chickpeas, peas, lentils and soya beans), cereals (wheat, oats, rye, rice, barley, buckwheat, millet, pasta and bread), nuts and dried fruits, meat substitutes (soya, seitan). It is not necessary to plan the right combination carefully, always provided that the diet includes a good variety of these foods every day.

Calcium is very important for the growth of teeth and bones. Enriched vegetarian milks are a good source of this mineral, together with juices, and enriched tofu, cooked beans and green leafy vegetables low in oxalic acid: turnip greens, cabbage, Chinese chard, broccoli, and okra. Calcium supplements are only necessary in the case of inadequate intake.

Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common nutritional problem in infants. Good sources of iron are enriched cereals, fortified breakfast cereals, legumes, green leafy vegetables, and dried fruit.

Whether or not children are following a vegan diet, they usually have a similar intake of zinc, although zinc from vegetable sources is not absorbed so well. Foods high in zinc and protein include: legumes, nuts and dried fruit, yeast leavened bread, and fermented soya products such as tempeh and miso. Eggs and dairy products can increase the amount of zinc in the diet and aid its absorption. Zinc supplements might be necessary in young children whose diets are based on unrefined cereals and legumes high in phytates and oxalates.

It is important to find a reliable source of vitamin B₁₂ for children with a vegan diet (enriched vitamin B₁₂ foods or by taking a supplement).

Healthy children who are regularly exposed to sunlight (two or three times a week, for 20-30 minutes, face and arms), appear not to need any type of vitamin D supplement. Fortified foods as a vegan source of vitamin D (D2, ergocalciferol) include some margarines, vegetarian milks, and fortified breakfast cereals.

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