I have to feed my baby meat?

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(I don't know if I posted this in the right place, I didn't see a spot for parenting.)

A little bit of background, I'm a vegetarian. I don't use products that were tested on animals, I don't buy leather or fur, I don't drink milk. I enjoy the occasional egg breakfast provided by my mother's very happy hens. I'm a new mom, my son's name is Simon, and he's four and a half months old.

So, we just went to his check up yesterday and he's doing great. We've chosen a family doctor. I liked the idea of us having the same doctor. We'll be introducing solids at 6 months and our doctor told us that variety is key. Fruits, veggies, grains, meats. I told her as I am a vegetarian, I plan on feeding Simon a vegetarian diet as well. She asked me why, and I told her it's for health and morality reasons, and as I wouldn't be eating meat it didn't make sense for me to buy meat for my child. I also told her that I plan to breastfeed past 1, and when he's ready to wean by himself, I'd offer soymilk as appose to whole milk (the norm)

My doctor really talked down to me on this. She said as adults, we can handle the "harmful side effects" of being a vegetarian or a vegan, but until age 2, I have to feed my baby a variety of meats, or his health would suffer. I've been researching and I've found information supporting both sides. I don't want to hurt my baby, but I also don't want to hurt animals. I'm very confused on how to separate peoples opinions from facts, because they're presented in the same way.

Any thoughts or advice is appreciated.
Thank you
-Mel
 

Damo

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Hello!

Were you vegetarian for the whole pregnancy? If so, he's technically not ate any meat and from what you've said he's doing great? Sounds like you need to consult another doctor. It could also be that the doctor is covering their own butt, I've read stories where parents have provided a vegetarian/vegan diet for their young and the child had become ill because they were feeding just pasta, almond milk with something else I can't quiet remember what else. But that was because they had no idea what they were doing. So I'd say that the doctor is just being "safe" by not recommending it, it's way easier to look after a child while feeding them meat.

She said as adults, we can handle the "harmful side effects" of being a vegetarian or a vegan,
Haha, sorry this made me laugh, harmful side effects. I mean Really? Did the doctor even give you any "harmful" side effects?

What is there in meat you can't source from a plant? (other than Vitamin B12, which can be supplemented)

I would seek out another doctor, before you let this other doctor speak you should tell them that you know understand which foods to choose to feed your child to replace the nutritional value of meat. If you show that you know what you're doing maybe they'll actually help you rather than recommend against it. I'd also be inclined to take in facts of nutrition values of meat vs plants. Make them aware of the vitamin B12 you can't source from plants too. All of this should hopefully convince the doctor that you know what you're doing.

Definitely go see another doctor, make sure you explain that you know what you're doing and maybe they'll agree with you.

I'm not sure if there are others here with vegetarian/vegan children but maybe they have experience to share.
 
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Hello!

Were you vegetarian for the whole pregnancy? If so, he's technically not ate any meat and from what you've said he's doing great? Sounds like you need to consult another doctor. It could also be that the doctor is covering their own butt, I've read stories where parents have provided a vegetarian/vegan diet for their young and the child had become ill because they were feeding just pasta, almond milk with something else I can't quiet remember what else. But that was because they had no idea what they were doing. So I'd say that the doctor is just being "safe" by not recommending it, it's way easier to look after a child while feeding them meat.

Haha, sorry this made me laugh, harmful side effects. I mean Really? Did the doctor even give you any "harmful" side effects?

What is there in meat you can't source from a plant? (other than Vitamin B12, which can be supplemented)

I would seek out another doctor, before you let this other doctor speak you should tell them that you know understand which foods to choose to feed your child to replace the nutritional value of meat. If you show that you know what you're doing maybe they'll actually help you rather than recommend against it. I'd also be inclined to take in facts of nutrition values of meat vs plants. Make them aware of the vitamin B12 you can't source from plants too. All of this should hopefully convince the doctor that you know what you're doing.

Definitely go see another doctor, make sure you explain that you know what you're doing and maybe they'll agree with you.

I'm not sure if there are others here with vegetarian/vegan children but maybe they have experience to share.
I did argue with her siting the B12, which I also take myself, and that I eat a wide variety of things to meet nutritional needs and so would he. I was throughout my pregnancy, and she knew that. So one would think it was safe to assume my child would be following the same lifestyle but she failed to put the peices together I guess. Yeah the "harmful side effects" bit made me scoff as well, that's when I decided to just end the conversation and do research on my own. You can be unhealthy no matter if you eat meat or not, so I'm pretty sure he should be okay... Really is a shame, she's a wonderful doctor, she delivered him. She's just not educated on this topic. She also said "So you don't eat any chicken? Or shrimp?" Like no.. I wouldn't be a vegetarian if I did it's really quite simple.
 

Damo

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Wow, sounds like a bit of bigotry.

Have you asked anywhere else? The more feedback you receive the better, it does sound ridiculous to me.

Maybe @Lucga can help with this?
 

museumgirl

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Hi. Congratulations on your baby and wanting to keep him healthy!
There are many reasons to NOT feed a young child meat - most of them cannot digest it well, and it can even cause autoimmune issues if feed too early. (Before about 1.5 years or so...) Please understand that most physicians, even the well-meaning, do not have much, if any, training in nutrition and do not understand a vegetarian diet.
Around the world, there are many cultures that are primarily vegetarian and/or nearly vegan, and aside from getting enough calories, their children do not suffer from any growth or development issues. As you introduce new foods, make sure he gets enough calories, avoid processed foods, and he should thrive.
There is a lot of information on this on Youtube, of all places - many families who are actually raising vibrant, healthy children completely vegan, and they will tell you what they do. If you need to arm yourself against the doctor's advice, educate yourself - I suggest Neal Barnard, Dr. Michael Klaper, Dr. Michael Greger - all have books and are on the internet and have given me so much knowledge in dealing with my non-vegan family and doctors!
Best of luck to you and do not feel you need to compromise your principles based on one person's misunderstanding of a healthy diet.
 

Jamie in Chile

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Instead of googling generic articles look at the reccomendations by serious authorities on nutrition on health like a national health service or national government body. Even though they are very conservative and hesitatant, they still mostly or all say that vegetarian diets are healthy for all stages of life.

Doctors, assuming they are not specialists, have to cover many, many topics so it is impossible for them to be a real expert on everything. They will tend to think like the status quo or something out of date that they read 20 years ago. As a general rule, doctors are not to be trusted on negative opinions about vegetarian nutrition.

I suggest you argue against your doctor a little bit. Ask your doctor WHY she reccomends meat and specifically what it contains that the body needs. And, when she answers, you can just list a number of vegetarian foods containing whatever she says. If not already done, read up on iodine, B12, calcium and Omega 3 requirements for young children, and make sure you get sources for all of these.
 
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Wow, sounds like a bit of bigotry.

Have you asked anywhere else? The more feedback you receive the better, it does sound ridiculous to me.

Maybe @Lucga can help with this?
I'm not sure where else to ask
 
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Hi. Congratulations on your baby and wanting to keep him healthy!
There are many reasons to NOT feed a young child meat - most of them cannot digest it well, and it can even cause autoimmune issues if feed too early. (Before about 1.5 years or so...) Please understand that most physicians, even the well-meaning, do not have much, if any, training in nutrition and do not understand a vegetarian diet.
Around the world, there are many cultures that are primarily vegetarian and/or nearly vegan, and aside from getting enough calories, their children do not suffer from any growth or development issues. As you introduce new foods, make sure he gets enough calories, avoid processed foods, and he should thrive.
There is a lot of information on this on Youtube, of all places - many families who are actually raising vibrant, healthy children completely vegan, and they will tell you what they do. If you need to arm yourself against the doctor's advice, educate yourself - I suggest Neal Barnard, Dr. Michael Klaper, Dr. Michael Greger - all have books and are on the internet and have given me so much knowledge in dealing with my non-vegan family and doctors!
Best of luck to you and do not feel you need to compromise your principles based on one person's misunderstanding of a healthy diet.
Thank you so much I will be checking these resources out!
 
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Instead of googling generic articles look at the reccomendations by serious authorities on nutrition on health like a national health service or national government body. Even though they are very conservative and hesitatant, they still mostly or all say that vegetarian diets are healthy for all stages of life.

Doctors, assuming they are not specialists, have to cover many, many topics so it is impossible for them to be a real expert on everything. They will tend to think like the status quo or something out of date that they read 20 years ago. As a general rule, doctors are not to be trusted on negative opinions about vegetarian nutrition.

I suggest you argue against your doctor a little bit. Ask your doctor WHY she reccomends meat and specifically what it contains that the body needs. And, when she answers, you can just list a number of vegetarian foods containing whatever she says. If not already done, read up on iodine, B12, calcium and Omega 3 requirements for young children, and make sure you get sources for all of these.
We went back and forth for a little while until it turned less fact based and more opinion based I decided to end the conversation because I personally am not good at confrontation and just do what I know is best for my child. I've read up on nutritional needs of children and I'm confident I can raise him in a healthy way that doesn't involve eating animals. As a new parent I tend to worry about literally everything though haha Do you have any suggestions on what websites to research from? They all present themselves as serious authorities. I will be raising him on my diet, I feel silly for even questioning myself. I'm always looking to learn more though.
 

Jamie in Chile

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Good for you. http://www.veganhealth.org is probably the best website I found.

Becoming Vegan, a nutrition book, was a good book I found also. It has a chapter on younger children.