You are attending to a teenager who has decided to move from an omnivorous to a vegan diet and asks us for help in developing a balanced menu. What general recommendations would you give him/her?
Think about this before moving forward.
Some ideas to include in a vegan breakfast are:
There are 3 basic rules:
And three optional rules:
Snacks should complement the main meals, so they should adapt and vary depending on what the child had for breakfast or ate before.
Some ideas for vegan snacks:
Although protein intake recommendations depend on age, sex and level of physical activity, it is recommended to add at least one serving of protein to each main meal. A simple way to calculate the size of protein servings is as follows:
A) Animal proteins (for ovolactovegetarians):
B) Proteins of vegetable origin:
As in any other healthy and balanced diet, it is important to limit the consumption of bakery and avoid ultra-processed products such as chips, soft-drink… Remember that pre-cocked meals that are marketed as substitutes for meat (vegan burgers, vegan nuggets…) are ultraprocessed products as well.
In addition, we must recommend vitamin B12 supplements at the appropriate dose for patient’s age.
And what recommendations would you give to a vegan family who want to instill vegetarianism in their newborn child?
Exclusive breastfeeding is the best form of feeding for all infants in the first six months of life. In case the nursing mother is vegan/vegetarian, itis important that she takes vitamin B12 supplements and consults with her doctor about the need to take other supplements such as iodine and omega-3 fatty acids. If breastfeeding is not possible, the child shall take infant or follow-on formulae based on soy protein asylees or hydrolyzed rice (lactovegetarians may take derivatives from cow’s milk). Vegetable drinks are not a substitute for infant or follow-on formulae and should not be introduced before the year of age.
Complementary feeding will be introduced, as in omnivorous infants, from the 4th or 6th month. The basis of the complementary diet of a vegan/vegetarian child are fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, cereals and, in the case of ovolactovegetarians, also eggs and yogurts. The sources of vegetable protein in a vegan/vegetarian diet to replace those from meat, fish and eggs are legumes, nuts and soy derivatives such as tofu, which can be introduced from 6 months. Natural yogurts can be replaced by sugar-free soy yogurts.
As in children with omnivorous diet, in the case of vegan/vegetarian children it is recommended to introduce new foods one at a time and with a temporary window between them to be able to detect any intolerance or adverse reaction.
In relation to nuts, it should be noted that they should be offered in the form of cream, since the consumption of whole nuts is not recommended until 6 years of age due to the risk of choking.
It is important to remember that vegan/vegetarian infants should also take vitamin B12 supplements at the dosages indicated for their age.
Other recommendations to consider are the same as those followed with omnivorous infants: