Can Teen Vegetarian Have A Balanced Healthy Diet?

Vegetarian Advice: Basics of good nutrition and healthy foods to eat

My 16 daughter has decided to become vegetarian, which I fully support, but I don't think she knows healthy foods to eat and now she is very irritable and tired, are those malnutrition symptoms?

Can you suggest any books or info I can give her to give her reasons to eat healthy and to have a balanced healthy diet. She has been drinking mostly soy milk and eating some pasta.

Thank you for your website. - J. E.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice

Dear J. E.,

Thank you for writing, and thanks for supporting your daughter in becoming a vegetarian!

You're right: A steady diet of soy milk and pasta is a recipe for malnutrition. At sixteen, your daughter is still growing, and the basics of good nutrition are especially important. But it isn't at all unusual for anybody becoming a vegetarian to run into trouble because the diet is quite different, and there's a lot to learn.

Here's a page on Amazon with several good books for teens who want to become vegetarian.

I also recommend 'Becoming Vegan', and 'The New Becoming Vegetarian', by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis.

You could start with the free SV reports: vegetarian nutrition and 10 tips for going vegetarian.

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I strongly recommend having your daughter tested for nutritional deficiencies - iron, B12, folic acid. If she is deficient, that may give her reasons to eat healthy and study up on vegetarian nutrition. I also suggest giving her a daily supplement, whether or not there are deficiencies. Rainbow Light Vitamins makes a good food based one-a-day for women.

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

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