Vegetarian Diets For Children And Teens

Suggested Meal Patterns for Children at 3 Different Energy Levels

Food Groups

Daily Servings
  1300 Kcal/Day 1800 Kcal/Day 2000 Kcal/Day
Bread, grains, cereals 3-4 4-5 5-6
Legumes, plant proteins 1/2 serving 1 1
Vegetables 1-2 2-3 2-3
Fruits 2-3 2-3 2-3
Nut butters 1/4 serving 1/2 serving 1
Milk, yogurt, cheese or fortified soy milk 2-3 2-3 3-4
Added margarine or oils 2 3-4 4
Added sugar 3 3-6 6

Replacing Animal Sources of Nutrients

Vegetarians who eat no animal products need to be more aware of nutrient sources. Nutrients most likely to be lacking and some non-animal sources are:

  • vitamin B12: fortified soy beverages and cereals

  • vitamin D: fortified soy beverages and sunshine

  • calcium: tofu processed with calcium, broccoli, seeds, nuts, kale, bok choy, legumes (peas and beans), greens, lime-processed tortillas, and soy beverages, grain products, and orange juice enriched with calcium

  • iron: legumes, tofu, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, whole grains, and iron-fortified cereals and breads, especially whole-wheat. (Absorption is improved by vitamin C, found in citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli, peppers, dark-green leafy vegetables, and potatoes with skins.)

  • zinc: whole grains (especially the germ and bran), whole-wheat bread, legumes, nuts, and tofu

  • protein: tofu and other soy-based products, legumes, seeds, nuts, grains, and vegetables

Source: Food and Drug Administration (

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Last Editorial Review: 6/18/2003