Is it okay for children to be vegetarians?

Vegetarian diets can be healthy for children and teens. A strict vegetarian diet (vegan) that does not include meat, poultry, fish, dairy, or eggs might require some planning to be sure your child is getting enough calories, vitamins, and minerals. Young vegan children tend to be slightly smaller but still within normal ranges for growth. And they tend to catch up to other children in size as they get older. Parents can get help from a registered dietitian who is experienced in vegan diets.

A vegetarian diet that includes milk products and eggs can be a healthy way to eat for children and teens. In fact, it can be a great way to get them into a lifelong habit of healthy eating.

If your teen decides to become a vegetarian, teach him or her how to plan meals to get all the right nutrients every day. Teens need calcium and vitamin D. Iron is especially important for teen girls who are menstruating. Talk with your doctor about how much of these vitamins and minerals your child needs. Ask if your teen needs to take a daily supplement.