Posts tagged vegetarian


Feeding Healthy Vegan Infants and Children

Reed Mangels, PhD, RD shares the science of feeding vegan infants.

I am deeply saddened when I see headlines such as “Vegan Baby Hospitalized for Severe Malnutrition” or “Vegan Couple Sentenced to Life over Baby’s Death.” These tragedies are needless and could easily be prevented by following some basic guidelines for infant feeding.

infantFor the first 6 months after birth, babies should ideally be given breast milk and only breast milk. That’s according to not only the American Academy of Pediatrics but also the World Health Organization. If breast feeding is not possible, a commercial infant formula is the only other alternative. That’s it, for the first 6 months. Juice, cereals, plant milks, even soy milk are not the right foods for young infants and can lead to inadequate nutrition. Breast milk and formula contain readily absorbed nutrients with ratios of protein, fat and carbohydrate that support the baby’s growth. Breastfeeding should continue at least through the first year with infant formula the only safe alternative as a primary beverage. When solids are introduced, after age 6 months, vegan infants should be given nutritious foods such as pureed fruits and vegetables, strained or mashed beans, tofu, and infant cereals. Vegan diets can easily meet an older infant’s or toddler’s needs for protein, vitamins, and minerals.

If we look closely into the news reports of malnourished “vegan” infants, we see that they’ve been given “mainly soy milk and apple juice” or that they have “multiple vitamin and mineral deficiencies.” Infants whose mothers are well-nourished and who are breastfeeding successfully or who are getting adequate infant formula are not going to have multiple vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Just as for any other infant, breastfed vegan infants need supplements of iron and vitamin D. Deficiencies of iron, calcium, and other nutrients that are reported in sensational news stories point to a lack of knowledge on the part of parents about what constitutes a healthy diet for an infant. Yes, it does take time and thought to feed infants and young children nutritious diets but the result is worth it.

For more information download our  simple guides for feeding vegan or vegetarian infants and toddlers.

Vegetarian Infants RDVegetarian Infants (PDF) offers tips for breastfeeding and formula feeding during the early months of a life. When it is time to add solid food, parents will discover lists of the foods that provide the best sources of iron, zinc, calcium, Vitamin B12 and other nutrients essential for a growing infant.

Vegetarian Toddlers Preschoolers RDVegetarian Nutrition for Toddlers and Preschoolers (PDF) provides information for parents and childcare providers who are planning vegetarian meals for toddlers and preschoolers.


Got Enough Protein?

No matter how prolific the evidence nor how well presented our website, there will always be someone who asks, “Can a vegetarian diet provide enough?” Enough might mean enough protein, enough variety, enough nutrients, enough of whatever the questioner fears might be lacking.

It’s not surprising that this question continues to be asked. The societal belief that a well-balanced diet must include meat, fish, poultry and dairy foods is deeply ingrained and has some roots in the association of these foods with an individual’s ability to procure them, that is, one’s personal affluence. During World Wars I and II, many foodstuffs were rationed including butter, sugar, meat, and coffee. Transportation of food was limited by fuel rationing and so people began to cultivate their own gardens and raise their own chickens. Thus, Victory Gardens appeared where flowers once grew or cars once parked. The ‘Eat locally’ movement had begun but with a slightly different intent than today’s locavores.

Naturally, with the rationing came a sense of deprivation that persisted until the end of the wars and the relative improvement of choices in the market. As people were able to add some of the former luxuries back into their regular diets, it wasn’t long before these luxuries became daily staples.

It’s worth noting here that as countries around the world become increasingly more developed and affluent, their diets also change to include the very luxuries mentioned above; fat, sugar, meat and another, alcohol. Patterns of disease in those countries parallel the dietary changes as both become more like disease and diets seen in Western countries.

So the question remains, “Does a vegetarian diet provide enough?”

Once again my dear photographer friend, who also happens to be a midwife, comes to the rescue with a delightful visual aid.

Take a look at the platter of food she compiled for her pregnant clients; its beauty belies its nutrient value. Not only colorful but also displaying the recommended plate proportions of protein, vegetables and fruits, this meal offers enough for an individual to meet nutrient needs as well as support good health. All the foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals and fiber while being relatively low in calories and fat as well as being free of simple sugars and cholesterol. These characteristics help to maintain appropriate weight and reduce blood pressure as well as risks for heart disease and diabetes.

White lima beans are this meal’s primary source of protein, with one cup providing 16 grams or about 30 percent of an adult woman’s daily requirement. The limas’ 30 grams of fiber meet the daily recommendation for adults and do a great job of modulating blood sugar, providing satiety and maintaining intestinal health. Besides being rich in potassium, white lima beans pack iron to the tune of 60 percent of the adult recommended daily intake. There are 140 calories in one cup.

Sugar snap peas, which are actually a hybrid of English peas and snow peas, are completely edible. One cup has barely 30 calories but more than 60 percent of recommended vitamin C intake. This is a vitamin K rich vegetable, which is why it is so aptly included in the lunch for pregnant women.

The much-maligned watermelon also does its share to support good health by providing vitamins B6, C and K, plus potassium and lycopene, a beneficial phytochemical found only in red-pigmented fruits and vegetables. One cup has about 50 calories, a trace of protein but no fat or cholesterol. What is fascinating about the protein is that it is comprised of amino acids that can metabolize to nitric oxide, a substance that helps to maintain artery function and thus improve blood pressure.

Without examining the familiar nutrient gifts of the mixed greens and herb salad, you can see that a lunch comprised of what we have just discussed can be not only quite filling but also nutrient dense, providing almost a third of a woman’s daily protein needs, wrapped in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals as well as including enough fiber for the day.

These nutrients promote good health; the fruit and vegetable packages they come in are visually and gastronomically pleasing, and the relatively low caloric load helps to maintain a healthful weight.

Is this not enough to make you curious to learn more about a vegetarian diet?


Summertime is Bean Time

Pinto bean saladBeans can make up a good part of a vegetarian’s diet yet now that it’s summer, we often forget about them. Typically we allocate beans as the protein in soups, chili and creamy, hardy dips, and lose sight of how delicious they are chilled in hot weather dishes.

Take into account the fiber-filled bean salad. Beans offer protein (repair damaged tissue, transport nutrients through your blood stream, and build strong muscles), market-fresh vegetables add vitamins and antioxidants (that improve immune function and assist in high quality absorption of beneficial nutrients), and a delicious olive oil dressing for much needed dietary fat (to carry the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K to muscle cells and for insulation).

And, summertime bean salads are fast and easy.  You’ll have a filling and flavorful meal the whole family will enjoy in no time!

Summertime Bean Salad

Serves 4

This fresh summer salad is filling yet leaves you light on your feet. Add more or reduce ingredients according to personal choice. If a hardier meal is desired, add in a cup of cooked farro.

Bean Salad

  • Arugula, mesclun or spring mix greens of choice
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups frozen corn, thawed (or equivalent of 2 fresh cobs of corn)
  • 1 can pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ small purple onion, finely diced
  • ½ medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 5-inch piece English cucumber, diced
  • ½ fresh mango, diced
  • Grape tomatoes, cut in half, as garnish

Chili Lime Vinaigrette

  •  2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  •  1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  •  1/2 teaspoon cumin
  •  1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1/3 cup olive oil

Directions

  1. Place a handful or two of arugula on 4 medium-sized salad plates or bowls.
  2. Mix together the remaining salad ingredients from corn to mango in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl or pulse in a small blender or food processor until well combined.
  4. Stir vinaigrette into the bean salad mixture and place a few spoonfuls on top of the arugula.
  5. Top salad with grape tomatoes and additional cilantro if desired.

Nutritional analysis (per serving using pinto beans): 297 calories, 33 g carbs, 7.4 g protein, 18 g fat

Exchanges: 2 starches/grains, 1 oz protein, 3 fat servings


Vegetarian? Vegan? Raw Diet! What’s the difference?

Plant-based diets are gaining momentum and becoming more mainstream. Pop your head into any grocery store and you’ll be able to find numerous products marked “Vegetarian” or “Certified Vegan.” It can be difficult to know what’s what! Below are brief definitions to help guide you.mushrooms

Vegetarians do not consume any fish, meat, or poultry. A lacto-vegetarian consumes dairy products and an ovo-vegetarian consumes eggs. A lacto-ovo vegetarian consumes both dairy products and eggs, but no meat. Products labeled “vegetarian” typically do not contain any meat or meat-derived products; however, there are no regulations in the U.S. governing the use of “vegetarian” on a label.  To be certain that a product is vegetarian, contact the manufacturer. An example of a meat-derived product is gelatin, which is prepared from animal bones.

Vegans are vegetarians who do not consume any animal/insect=derived products including dairy products, eggs, and honey. This group avoids animal/insect-based food dyes, binders, and additives.

Individuals following a Raw Diet consume products that are uncooked and unprocessed.   The percentage of raw foods can vary from 50-100% raw.  Their diet may or may not be vegan.  Consumers of the raw diet do not cook foods at temperatures greater than 116 degrees Fahrenheit. Examples of raw foods are typically vegan include fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, beans, and dried fruit. Depending on the individual’s preference raw meat like Carpaccio or raw fish like sushi may be eaten as well as raw milk products.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognizes that appropriately planned vegetarian and vegan diets are healthful for all age groups.   Completely raw diets are not recommended for infants and children due to concerns with nutrient adequacy