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Vegetarianism, Yoga and Children

My 10 month old son is a vegetarian, and since June,he’s been a good little vegan due to a cow milk protein allergy. While I don’t want to make big decisions about how my son ultimately chooses to live his life, I do want to bring good karma into his world and tread the path with him to make the smallest environmental footprint, doing the least harm possible to the earth and its many inhabitants. As a preemie baby born at 7 1/2 months, he is still catching up in size and weight with full-term babies born on his gestational date, and the doctors, nutritionists and midwives all have offered the same generic advice – to introduce animal proteins now will enrich his diet and make him mentally and physically strong.

My husband is a meat-eater, and challenges me on this subject. While he agrees that animal products can be kept to a minimum in our child’s diet, he feels strongly that the western medical experts and nutritionists know what is best for our son’s diet.

I know a lot of yogis with children, but I haven’t heard a lot about how what they are feeding their babies when technically the digestive system is ready to take on the more complex and nutritive animal proteins. How different should a baby’s diet be? Are plant based proteins second rate substitutions for a baby’s dietary needs?

I am confused about what the best thing is for my son. As a yogi, I know in my heart that I have a keen desire to keep my son free of a lifestyle that involves the domestication, abuse and disregard for animals that have no way of defending themselves. The sooner he can understand the interconnectedness of all beings and the responsibility we have to the peace and happiness of all beings, the sooner I can feel that I’ve done something meaningful as a parent. Having said this, as a mother, I feel unequipped to know what my son’s bottom line nutritive needs are. Perhaps I haven’t taken enough responsibility or initiative to get to the root of what the daily requirements are for a 10 month old, maybe I need to seek out a pediatric dietitian specializing in vegetarian baby diets… you have any information on the subject that you can share?

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