If your child is interested in a vegetarian diet, it helps to start slow. Consider meatless Mondays, for example. Sampling vegetarian eating at one day a week lets them test it out and see if it is something they would like to continue.

Children and adolescents who follow a vegetarian eating plan tend to consume more fruits and vegetables and less sweets, salty snacks and saturated fat than their nonvegetarian peers. They also tend to be at lower risk for obesity and overweight.

In the past, experts worried that following a vegetarian diet, which tends to be low in saturated fat and animal protein and high in fiber, folate, vitamins C and E, carotenoids and some phytochemicals, would lead to nutritional deficiencies in children.

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Natalie D. Muth, MD, MPH, RDN, FAAP, is a pediatrician and registered dietitian who practices general pediatrics and is the director of the W.E.L.L. healthy living clinic at Children’s Primary Care Medical Group in Carlsbad, California.

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