This year, I’ve made a considerable lifestyle change, that is becoming vegetarian. Since cutting meat out from my diet, I’d say that I feel more healthy and that my ethics have gone up a notch. My blood pressure has gone well down, so that is a real tangible benefit right there! I continue to eat wild sea fish, eggs and dairy though. Organic when ever possible. In my mind, not being part of the process that causes a huge amount of suffering to animals is the right thing to do. This lifestyle change was triggered by some profound knowledge, something I won’t go into at this time though.
My daughter (who is 2yrs old) does continue to eat some small amounts of meat however. Toddlers are renowned picky eaters after all, right?! It has been on my mind a while, whether or not to cut meat from her diet too. Afterall, I feel healthy for doing so, she she would too. I’m aware though that meat can offer important nutritional value to the body, and perhaps especially important for a little one growing up… or is it?
The nutritional alternatives
Well, it seems, according to many, that providing their vegetarian diet is planned well and that you have some basic understanding of what foods contain it can indeed work well.
Here are nutrients that vegetarians should get and some of their best food sources:
• Vitamin B12: dairy products, eggs, and vitamin-fortified products, such as cereals, breads, and soy and rice drinks, and nutritional yeast.
• Vitamin D: milk, vitamin D-fortified orange juice, and other vitamin D-fortified products.
• Calcium: dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, dried beans, and calcium-fortified products, including orange juice, soy and rice drinks, and cereals.
• Protein: dairy products, eggs, tofu and other soy products, dried beans, and nuts.
• Iron: eggs, dried beans, dried fruits, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and iron-fortified cereals and bread.
• Zinc: wheat germ, nuts, fortified cereal, dried beans, and pumpkin seeds.
As you can see, your child can get the same nutrients from meat-free sources. There’s plenty of delicious recipes to experiment with to get your child eating this kind of diet.
Hidden dangers in meat
You may already know, that the meat industry has other problems besides the suffering aspect. Much of the meat you eat contains:
- Growth hormones
- N-Nitroso Compounds and Nitrosamines
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
- Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs)
To name a few. Much of this certainly isn’t natural to our bodies, and is showing to having adverse effects, such as the increase of cancers. These revelations are only reinforcing my view that my daughter shouldn't consume it.
Meat meat meat!
As I’m a little bit of a non-conformist, I question anything that is pushed in my face on a daily basis, and meat is. Call me cynical, but I don’t believe it’s for my personal well-being.
More and more people are becoming vegetarian, maybe I’m a little late to it, but as they say, better late than never! But here in China, the average person’s diet is high in meat. Most dishes, even the ‘vegetarian dishes’ will contain meat. So eating out here can sometimes be a challenge if trying to avoid it. Fortunately, there are apps available to people who want healthy vegetarian food delivered to their door. 'Fields' is one example I use here. It’s reliable and good value. So be sure to check it out.
Vegetarianism = more spiritually aware?
I don’t label myself as a religious person, but this lifestyle choice will, I believe, make me a little more spiritually aware of the world around us. It’s a lifestyle choice I would certainly recommend. For me, the burden of guilt was lifted off my shoulders. I know that I’m not part of that process any longer. As my wife followed my lead, it is only natural for my daughter to so as well.
I previously wrote an article and designed an infographic on how to get your child eating healthy, so you can pick up the tips here.