There are many reasons why parents might be vegetarians and choose this type of diet for their child. There is an important role for nurses, health visitors and midwives to help parents ensure the nutrient needs of their baby are met as they start weaning.
The UK Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as: 'Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or by-products of slaughter.'1
A vegetarian may be lacto-ovo-vegetarian (eating dairy products and eggs), lacto-vegetarian (dairy products, but not eggs) or vegan (excludes eggs, dairy products and other animal-derived foodstuffs).
Some religions call for dietary restrictions. Most practicing Hindus do not eat meat or fish, and none will eat meat from cows or buffalos. Rastafarians avoid all animal products as well as salt, canned and preserved foods. Jains have strict dietary restrictions, which excludes all animal products. Sikhs might be vegetarian and muslims do not eat pork.2
Weaning onto solid foods takes place when babies become developmentally ready to begin to eat the foods common to their family and culture, around six months of age.3 By this age, babies are running low on nutrients, particularly iron,4 and breast or formula milk is no longer enough
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