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Question
Posted by: fiona | 2004/01/21

Becoming vegetarian

My 15 year old daughter would like to become a vegetarian, but I don't know enough about what to replace the meat with in order for her to have a balanced diet. She is 1.75 m tall and weighs 60kg.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Fiona
This is not a step that should really be undertaken while she is still a teenager and growing actively as she still requires large amounts of nutrients to complete her growth, e.g. calcium to ensure that her bone structure is strong enough to withstand osteoporosis in later life. Her BMI at present equals 19,6, which is already tending towards underweight, thus I am even more concerned about her wanting to be a vegetarian. If she is set on this course, I would strongly recommend that she becomes a Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian, i.e. someone who still eats eggs, milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese and all other types of cheese together with vegetarian foods. If she can also be persuaded to eat fish twice a week (for the omega-3 content), then you can ensure that she is eating a balanced diet. Strict vegetarians can develop deficiencies in the following nutrients: protein, calcium, iron and vit B12 (resulting in anaemia), zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. If she wants to be a strict vegetarian then she will have to take supplements all the time.
Good luck
DietDoc

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