Thursday, September 9, 2010

Plant-Based Food Guide for Toddlers 1-3 years

Raising vegetarian/vegan children is much easier than you may think.  We are bombarded with ads and money-bought places in the food pyramid that say we "should" or "need" to eat meat or dairy.  The reality is that, with a healthy diet, a child can thrive on vegan foods only.  If you are raising your child as a vegetarian or vegan, or if you just want to add some meat alternatives to his/her diet, or if you want to know what a serving size is, as well as various vitamin RDA's for toddlers, then this guide is for you. 

Plant-Based Food Guide for Toddlers 1-3 years
(based on info from Raising Vegetarian Children)

*description item amount is the daily TOTAL needed (i.e., toddler serving size multiplied by servings needed). In parentheses is the toddler serving size (TS).


    • 16 oz breast or full-fat soy, nut (brazil, almond), hemp, or coconut milk.

         o If doing this, or no milk at all, make sure toddler receives extra fats and protein (and calcium if no milk at all) from other sources.  ("Cow's milk (or soy milk) is really just a convenient source of calcium, protein, fats, vitamin D, etc. - it's not required. There are many people in many parts of the world who do not drink milk and still manage to get all the calcium, protein, fats, vitamin D, etc. that they need. Too much cow’s milk can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, because milk interferes with the absorption of iron"

Bread/Cereal (4-6 toddler servings/TS)

    • 2-3 slices of bread* (1/2=TS) or

    • 1-1 ½ cups of cooked grains or pasta (1/4 cup=TS) or

    • 2-3 cups of ready-to-eat cereal* (1/2 cup=TS) or

    • 1-1 ½ of cups cooked cereal* (1/4 cup=TS)

Vegetables (2-3 toddler servings)

    • 2-3 cups of salad or other raw veggie pieces (1/2 cup=TS) or

    • 1-1 ½ cups of cooked veggies (1/4 cup=TS) or

    • 1 1/3 -2 cups vegetable juice (1/3 cup=TS)

Fruits (2-3 toddler servings)

    • 1-2 fresh fruits (1/2-1 fruit=TS) or

    • ½- 2/3 cup cooked fruit (1/2 cup=TS) or

    • ½-3/4 cup fruit juice (1/4 cup=TS)

Beans and Alternatives (2 toddler servings)

    • ½ cup cooked beans, peas, or lentils (1/4 cup=TS) or

    • 4 ounces of tofu (2 oz cup=TS) or

    • 1-2 ounces veggie “meat”* (1/2-1 oz=TS) or

    • 3 tbsp nut or seed butter (1 ½ tbsp=TS) or

    • 4 ounces soy yogurt* (2 oz=TS) or

*Limit intake of processed foods.  Try to feed foods in their original, or close to original, state.

    • Vitamin B12: 1 mcg

    • Vitamin D: Sunlight or at least 5 mcg

    • Omega 3 fatty acids: ½-2 tsp flaxseed/hemp/canola/olive or other oils, chia or other seeds, coconut oil.

    • RDA Calcium: 500mg

    • RDA Iron: 7-10 mg

    • RDA Protein: 16 grams

    • RDA Zinc: 10 mg


mamatoelijah said...

thanks!!! this is awesome! any idea if non dairy yogurts also have the probiotics?

Green Tidings said...

Some do- you just have to see if the particular brand you like has probiotics. Health food stores sell probiotic supplements, with many different beneficial strains, for your little one. You can either give it to him in supplement form, or you can make your own yogurt.

Anonymous said...

Awesome list, but why are eggs on it?

Green Tidings said...

This was originally meant as a vegetarian list, but changed to vegan. I will update it. Thanks!

Ariadne-Janet Howard said...

This is GREAT! Please add a pinterest link!

AaronandAlice said...

Hi there, I'd love some advice. My daughter is allergic to soy and sensitive to gluten. I haven't dared try nuts yet. She is 19 months old and has Down syndrome. I basically cook her everything from scratch so I know what she's getting, but other than beans are there any other protein/ iron items you'd suggest? I do give her goat's milk and yogurt as well.