In 2019, Canada updated its national dietary guidelines to encourage people to eat more plant-based protein, like beans, tofu and quinoa, instead of meat.
While there’s plenty of research around how healthy a vegetarian diet can be for adults—including how it impacts heart health and cancer risk—there’s not much research around how healthy a meatless eating pattern is for kids. But a new study published in Pediatrics is sharing insights into that exact topic.
The study, led by Canadian pediatrician Jonathon Maguire, M.D., found that vegetarian and meat-eating kids between the ages of 6 months and 8 years had similar mean body mass index (BMI), height and levels of iron, vitamin D and cholesterol.
Both iron and vitamin D are critical for overall healthy growth and development, and some vegan folks (or selective eaters) may struggle to get enough of them, due to the fact they’re predominantly found in animal products. The study did not take into account the quality of the food each child at
The study did have one caveat—vegetarian children were twice as likely to be underweight than children who ate meat. Per a media release from Unity Health Toronto, researchers feel that connecting parents with health care providers and extra nutrition guidance could help make up for the undernourishment that could be causing the weight discrepancy.
It’s especially important for kids to get the fuel they need for healthy growth and development.