Key Concerns For Adolescent Vegetarians



Protein is basically about growth and cell repair.

A vegetarian plan that includes eggs and dairy products covers the protein requirement with no problem.

Good plant sources of protein for vegans include chickpeas (garbanzo beans), peanut butter, almonds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, tofu, soy milk, and lentils and other legumes, as well as whole wheat bread and brown rice. But be aware that covering all of our protein needs requires that a variety of protein-containing foods be eaten throughout the day: brown rice and beans, for example.

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All is good with a vegetarian plan, provided your nutritional requirements are metand you get enough energy to support growth.

An adolescent girl needs energy (calories) from a wide variety of sources rich in a variety of nutrients: three nutritious meals and one or two healthy snacks.

Carbohydrates found in whole grain foods, fruits, nuts, and legumes will keep your energy level right up there. So eat these throughout the day.

Most leafy vegetables aren’t energy dense (calorie rich), but lots of plant-based foods are. Beans, starchy vegetables, avocados, and nuts are examples of energy-dense vegan foods.


Vitamin D just isn’t found in plant foods at all unless they are fortified. During the spring and summer months, fifteen to thirty minutes of sunshine on your arms and legs, two to three days a week; a daily (complete) multivitamin/multimineral supplement for kids or vitamin D supplement (if recommended by a doctor); and fortified/enriched foods like soy milk can bring vegans right up to speed in the vitamin D department.


If you drink 1 percent low-fat or skim milk and eat dairy products, you’ll cover your calcium requirement.

Vegan diets should include a variety of calcium-fortified foods like soy milk and tofu.

Other good sources of calcium for vegans are okra, sesame seeds, collard and turnip greens, soybeans, figs, tempeh, almond butter, broccoli, bok choy commercial soy yogurt, calcium-enriched breakfast cereals, and breads fortified with calcium.

Daily (complete) multivitamin/multimineral supplements for kids only partly fulfill the calcium requirement. Vegan calcium supplements are available; check with your doctor.


Plant foods that are good sources of iron include raisins, dried fruit, soybeans, lentils, black-eyed peas, blackstrap molasses, firm tofu, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), kidney beans, and pinto beans. Iron-fortified cereals and iron-fortified whole grain breads are also very good.

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