Children’s nutrition: Pediatricians warn against feeding babies and toddlers a vegan diet

Children’s nutrition: Pediatricians warn against feeding babies and toddlers a vegan diet

The proportion of Germans who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet is growing. In surveys, around two percent currently say they eat a completely vegan diet. Around eight percent are vegetarians – ascending trend

Many parents also want to feed their children without animal foods such as meat, fish, eggs or milk. But how healthy is this for development?

Pediatricians recommend a vegan diet Nutrition, especially for the little ones, according to the current state of research. “The study situation on vegan nutrition in critical growth phases is still not sufficient, so we pediatricians and adolescent doctors advise against a vegan diet, especially in infancy and toddlerhood,” says a press release from the Professional Association of Pediatricians and Adolescent Doctors *Inside (BVKJ) on the occasion of World Vegan Day on November 1st.

Without enough protein, brain development suffers

An “optimized mixed diet” is the standard for the development of the brain, the growth of the organs and a good basic supply of all important nutrients. A child’s diet recommended according to the usual food pyramid also includes moderate consumption of meat and animal products such as milk and cheese.

At no time does the child’s organism react more sensitively to a lack of nutrients than in toddlers and infancy, the experts write. “In addition to the pure number of calories, a sufficient amount of a variety of substances is necessary to enable good body growth and the healthy development of all organs, especially the brain.”

Be critical with vegans Nutrition the supply of protein and certain fatty acids, vitamins and trace elements. Even small fluctuations and undersupply, for example with vitamin B12, could damage an infant’s growing and therefore particularly sensitive organs, and in particular could massively and permanently endanger neurological development and mental health.

Vegan children need vitamin tablets

Older children and young people, on the other hand, could easily do without fish, meat and other animal foods, the doctors report. However, it is very important for them to compensate for the insufficient vitamin B12 on a purely plant-based diet through nutritional supplements. The experts advise parents to seek professional nutritional advice if their children want to eat vegan.

Breastfeeding mothers You should also definitely take vitamin B12 supplements and have your blood values ​​checked regularly, the association recommends.

While, despite the upward trend, only around ten percent of people in Germany eat purely vegan or vegetarian food, the proportion of those who often avoid meat and buy vegan substitute products is rising sharply. In surveys for the BMEL Nutrition Report 2023, almost half of those surveyed (46 percent) said they consciously limited their meat consumption. More than half (53 percent) of Germans have bought vegan or vegetarian substitute products.

In this focus you can read more healthy and sustainable nutrition for children and adults.

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