Careful Meal Planning Needed For Healthy Vegetarian Children
The New Zealand Dietetic Association (NZDA) stresses the importance of careful meal planning for children on vegetarian
Dietitian and co-author of the NZDA position paper on vegetarian diets, Donnell Alexander says vegetarian diets can be a
realistic choice for people who need excellent nutrition.
“Pregnant women, breast feeding mothers, athletes and children can all have healthy vegetarian diets with careful meal
planning,” says Ms Alexander.
Both the American and New Zealand Dietetic Associations stress the need for pregnant and breast feeding mothers to
carefully plan their own and their infant’s diet. Particularly in the case of those on a vegan diet, who may need to
take vitamin and mineral supplements in order to obtain the extra nutrients required during these life stages.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health published healthy eating guidelines in 1998, which recognised the particular needs of
vegetarians. They emphasise the importance of careful meal planning, particularly in the case of vegetarian or
“Many vegetarian foods are bulky. Children’s stomachs may be too small to eat all the food they need for activity and
growth. Serve small meals often,” says the Ministry of Health.
Ms Alexander says consultation with a dietitian is recommended to help ensure people are getting a healthy nutrient
intake, especially people on more restrictive diets, such as vegans (who eat no animal products).
“With International Vegetarian Day on October 1 now is a good time for people to assess their nutrition needs and
address any concerns they may have by talking to a dietitian.”
More concern from consumers about food and the environment are cited by the American and New Zealand dietetic
associations as reasons people turn to vegetarian or semi-vegetarian diets. Demand on food outlets is also increasing
from people wanting more vegetarian choices.
American studies indicate vegetarians have better health due to their diet. This can also be attributed to their active,
generally smoke free lifestyles.
The paper also says scientific data suggests a positive relationship between vegetarian diets and a reduced risk of some
degenerative diseases, which include obesity, diabetes mellitus and some types of cancer.
NZDA will soon be publishing its version of the American Dietetic Association’s Vegetarian Diets paper. Sanitarium
Health Food Company is kindly sponsoring the publishing.
For more information please contact:
Donnell Alexander, ph: 04 471 8485(day) or 04 380 1308 (a/hrs), or
Simone Bell, ph: 09 376 5988
ABOUT THE NEW ZEALAND DIETETIC ASSOCIATION
The New Zealand Dietetic Association is the professional association of dietitians and associated nutrition
professionals and scientists.
Formed over 60 years ago, the association represents over 450 professionals practicing in diverse areas of dietetics
throughout New Zealand.