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Vegan Nutrition with Brenda Davis, R.D.Brenda Davis is a registered dietitian in private practice. She is the past Chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association. Brenda is co-author of the international best seller, Becoming Vegetarian, and highly acclaimed Becoming Vegan. Brenda is an internationally recognized speaker. She has worked as a public health nutritionist, a clinical nutrition specialist, nutrition consultant and academic nutrition instructor.
Weight Gain in Vegetarian Toddlers -- Practical PointersInsure sufficient calories
Vegan diets are often high in bulk and low in fat. While this is great for disease prevention, it may not promote optimal growth and development. This does not mean vegan diets are inappropriate for infants and toddlers. It simply means that when constructing a vegan diet for young children, growth and development must be priority number one, and the caloric density of the diet must be high. Article continues below
This sounds high, but remember breast milk contains about 50% of calories from fat. Most of the fat should come from foods rich in monounsaturated fats such as nut butters and avocados. Sufficient essential fatty acids should also be provided (an essential balance oil is a great choice eg. Essential Balance Junior by Omega). It is NOT necessary to add meat (or other animal foods) to increase fat in the diet. Instead, add higher fat plant foods. Excellent choices include:
Fiber fills the stomach and can reduce total caloric intake. Avoid concentrated fiber like wheat bran in the diet. Use mainly refined grains to produce weight gain (sufficient fiber will come from other plant foods). Some whole grains should be included to increase intake of vitamins and minerals.
Provide at least 25 grams protein per day
Insufficient protein can compromise growth. Soymilk (20 oz.) will provide about 15 grams of protein. One veggie deli slice has 4-5 grams, and &rac14; cup tofu has 8-10 grams. Even a slice of bread has 2-3 grams of protein. Thus, insuring sufficient protein is not difficult if caloric intake is adequate.
Be aware of the needs for iron and zinc
These nutrients are very important for growth and development. Iron is the most common nutritional deficiency in infants. Iron-fortified infant cereal, legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds and dried fruits are all good sources. A lack of zinc can mean poor growth and reduced immunity for children. Include a multi-vitamin/mineral zinc supplement that provides 5-10 mg of zinc.
Don't forget the Vitamin B12!
There are no reliable plant sources of vitamin B12. Use a supplement or fortified foods (at least 1 mcg/day). A lack of vitamin B12 can result in muscle wasting, weakness and irreversible nerve and brain damage.
Include sufficient calcium and vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D are necessary for strong, growing bones. Both of these nutrients can be provided in fortified soymilk, and other fortified foods. Other good sources of calcium are dark greens (excluding spinach, beet greens and Swiss chard), tofu made with calcium, almonds, legumes and figs.
This recipe was created by Earthsave International's Chair of the Board of Directors, Louisville Lawyer and amazing chef, John Borders.
Makes 2 servings.
Per serving: 336 calories, 7 g protein, 40 g carbohydrate, 19 g fat.
For a toddler aged 1-3 years, using 3 Tbsp. cashew butter for the whole recipe, a serving of this pudding provides approximately: