Are you a local-vore?

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Are you a local-vore by Sprout RightWhat does buying local mean to you? It might mean that you shop at your local store and not drive to pick-up groceries. It could mean that you buy locally-grown food at your supermarket or farmers market or patronize a neighbourhood fishmonger or butcher.

When it comes to shopping local, it’s a win-win situation for everyone, including the environment.

Some benefits of shopping locally:

  • Walking to your local store reduces carbon emissions, it gets you active, and also helps you to get to know your local grocer, which builds for you a sense of community belonging.

  • Heading to your local market supports local trade. If it’s a farmers market, you can meet the farmer and ask any questions you may have about pesticide use, how long it has been since the produce was picked, and what’s going to be harvested in the future.

  • Shopping at local butchers or farms helps you answer questions and concerns about how the animals are treated, what they are fed and how fresh your meat or poultry is. My local butcher, Butcher By Nature, has visited the farms where their meat come from, which gives me confidence in what I’m buying for my family.

  • When produce travels far and wide, it’s treated differently than locally picked fruits and veggies. It’s picked earlier, before it ripens or nears its peak, harvests are sprayed to keep bugs at bay during travel, and wrapped or packaged for transportation. All of that makes for a loss of nutrients, less flavourful produce, more chemicals on your food, as well as packaging that may not be recyclable.

Eating produce that’s in season is the perfect way to ensure you are eating local. And freezing and canning are great ways to make the most of seasonal fruits and vegetables.

I recently went to a “Farmers Feed Cities” event and was thoroughly impressed by the quality of local produce, fish, poultry and meat, honey and even artisan cheese from Ontario and Quebec. It was some of the tastiest food that I have  eaten in a while.

My family and I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s wedding a few weeks ago and they hired a caterer who only works with local and sustainable produce. It was beyond delicious, flavourful and colourful. I found it inspiring to see beet salad, green beans, bison burgers, bread made from local wheat, and pie made from rhubarb, wild blueberries and cherries.

Are you drooling yet?

Being a local-vore can start with making one or two choices as you shop. Maybe visit a local market on the weekend and see what’s on offer. Look out for “local” signs at supermarkets or buy from the roadside. Every little bit adds up. No matter what you do, you’ll feel and taste the benefit.

Image Copyright: stephaniefrey / 123RF Stock Photo

This post originally appeared on iVillage.

Amazing Almond Flour, With Gluten-Free Recipe

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Amazing Almond Flour with Gluten-Free RecipeAlmonds have broken out of their shell and spread across the supermarket! Have you noticed how many almond milk brands there are now? As an alternative to milk, this nut’s milky white seems to be enjoyed by most of my clients more than soy these days.

As you do your weekly grocery shop, start to notice just how much almonds have come to span the whole store. From almond butter to crackers, flour or meal, oil, milk and yogurt, the selection certainly shows the versatility of this nut.

Speaking of nuts, almonds aren’t actually classified as a nut when you really get down to it.  They are a drupe, as are peach, cherry and plum. From an allergic standpoint, they are not a tree nut so well tolerated by many allergic children, although they get lumped into the stay-away-from category.

Almonds rank high on any nutritionist’s list of foods to consume daily. High in monounsaturated fats, their benefits span from boosting brain health to protecting the heart and tackling high-cholesterol levels. Energy giving B-vitamins, free radical blasting vitamin E and bone building potassium and calcium makes this my favourite snack to suggest clients indulge in.

As I’m trying out a diet that’s void of all gluten, almond flour along with coconut flour are becoming go-to flours for baking muffins and cookies. This recipe is by far a firm favourite with the family. Although it’s name doesn’t scream your typical pancakes, I actually find it easier to make than standing at the stove flipping little flour packed rounds. I love that it has six eggs in it, as it helps to balance my kids blood sugar for a successful morning at school. As it’s so high in fibre, they also feel full for longer.

I’ve made up the batter in advance, the night or day before, and in the morning pop it in the oven before the rest of the house makes a move. I’m always up earlier than they are, so the 20 minutes it takes to cook gives me enough time to meditate and be ready to face the day with my feet firmly grounded on the floor.

Don’t worry about the butter either. It’ll transport those important nutrients I was talking about to where they need to go.

Apple Cinnamon Baked Pancakes

1 cup almond flour

1 cup apple sauce

6 eggs

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ cup organic butter, melted

¼ tsp sea salt

Put butter in 9″ x 13″ baking dish, set in 400 degree oven to melt.

Beat flour, apple sauce, cinnamon and eggs in a bowl. When butter is melted, pour batter into it and return pan to the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Serves 4


This recipe is perfect for storing in the fridge and warming the following day. We top it with fruit spread or honey rather than drown it in the usual syrup. We save that for the weekend.

Recipe is taken from Sprout Right’s 21 Days to Balance Meal Plan.

This post originally appeared on iVillage.

Eat more than your greens… Make it a rainbow!

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Rainbow Salad Rolls on Sprout Right.jpg


There are many benefits to eating a colourful diet. Just as seeing a rainbow in the sky stops me from whatever I’m doing to appreciate it’s beauty, I slow down and enjoy my meal far more when it’s colourful. I feel happier too.

Happy is healthy, but so are all those phytonutrients like anti-inflammatory bromelain found in orange and yellow foods, detoxifying chlorophyll in all green foods, powerful antioxidant curcumin in the orange spice turmeric and anti-aging resveratrol in red foods. That’s some serious motivation to eat more colour.

Here’s one of our favourite ways to enjoy a speedy lunch or dinner and include all the colours of the rainbow.

My daughters and I love sushi and rice wraps when we are on the go, so one day last summer we tried to make these Rainbow Rice Wraps. We found that the girls love to create their own, with guidance from me of course (or it would be carrot wraps). You’ll find rice wraps in health food stores, near the prepared sushi section of some supermarkets or in the ethnic food aisle.

Rainbow Rice Wraps

1/2 package vermicelli noodles

Boiling water

1/2 red pepper, cut into strips

2 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks

1/2 yellow pepper, cut into strips

1/2 zucchini or cucumber, cut into strips

Handful sunflower sprouts (optional)

1/4 purple cabbage, sliced into strips

200 g cooked shrimp, sliced chicken or tofu

Fill kettle or a medium saucepan and bring water to the boil. Place noodles into a large bowl, and cover with boiling water. Drain after 5 minutes and sprinkle with sesame or olive oil and tamari (soy sauce). Toss and set aside.

Assemble vegetables, shrimp/chicken/tofu onto a plate. Half fill a pie plate with water. Set up an assembly line starting with rice wraps and water, then noodles and last vegetables and protein.

Immerse the rice wrap into the water for 20 seconds (different brands seem to need different lengths of time). Don’t let the rice wrap become too floppy. Set flat onto a plate and add a bit of each veggie and protein in the centre, not too wide, but as long as you like. Fold in one end, wrap one side over the fillings and roll up the rest. One end can be  left undone. Cut in half and serve or eat as is.

Dip into soy sauce or chili sauce for extra zip. Better eaten shortly after assembly.

I hope you’re inspired to put a new colour on your plate that you wouldn’t have before. Pick up a new fruit or vegetable at the supermarket this week and give it a try. Kids will love the challenge of eating the whole rainbow (take a look at Today I Ate a Rainbow).

What’s first on your list?


A version of this post originally appeared on

The Power of Turmeric with Recipe

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Lentil Dahl on Sprout Right

A quick and delicious one-pot meal, perfect for a busy weeknight.

Some spices are truly wonder ”drugs,” and wonderful. Turmeric is one such spice that packs a huge nutritional punch. You may be most familiar with it from Indian cuisines – all those glorious curries; the people of India have been using turmeric in their cooking for thousands of years. It is also plays a starring role in some traditional medicines. This plant grows wild in South and South East asia, with India being the greatest explorer of this wonder spice.

One active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which has been shown to help the body fight cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, diabetes, allergies and some other chronic diseases. It is thought that the power of curcumin is found in its ability to modify the inflammatory response, where chronic inflammation is thought to be a factor in many Western diseases.

Turmeric also has anti-oxidant powers, protecting the cells from the effects of harmful chemicals that enter the body through our everyday exposure.

The whole family can enjoy turmeric in such dishes as this delicious lentil dahl. Some parents are shy about offering baby spices, but in fact these are wonderful flavours to expand baby’s palate with. Here we share a recipe the whole family will love (great for next-stage eaters – about 9 months + – and perfect for parents and older kids when served over brown rice with a dollop of greek yogurt).

Delicious Lentil Dahl

3 cups water or no-sodium vegetable stock

1 cup red lentils, rinsed well

1 medium sweet potato, chopped into small cubes

1 small onion, finely chopped

1tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cumin

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Handful cilantro leaves

1 cup packed baby spinach, finely chopped

2 Swiss chard leaves, finely chopped

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1. Combine water, lentils, sweet potato, onion, olive oil, turmeric, cumin, garlic and cilantro in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

2. Add spinach and chard; simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in chickpeas and simmer for 3 minutes. Leave chunky or puree to desired consistency.


Five Healthy Weeknight Suppers

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5 Healthy Meal Ideas on

You work hard all year long and when school is out and work relaxes, you just want to take it easy in the kitchen too. We agree! Summer is for easy weeknight suppers and so we put together this list of five easy and healthy supper ideas for busy summer nights. Who needs take-out?!

1. Lasagna

Lasagna is a yummy, healthy make-ahead meal that packs in a lot of the major food groups in one easy-to-serve dish. Pack yours with lots of lightly cooked veggies, and try a healthy homemade sauce with brown rice noodles for a health boost. Here is one of our favourite lasagna recipes.

2. Tacos

Tacos can be healthy! And our recipe proves that with a few substitutions, and nutrient-dense toppings, you can make even fun food good food. Tacos are great because kids can assemble them themselves, making your job as cook a little easier. Simply put out the major components of these great tacos and ask your kids to put together their own meal. To round out the meal, lightly steam a vegetable of your choice like broccoli, carrots or green beans.

3. Breakfast for Dinner

Children always get excited by this change-it-up treat! Cook up a batch of gluten-free pancakes and scramble some eggs (add a bit of broccoli or spinach to sneak in your veg). Serve this with some lean turkey sausage and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice for a kick of Vitamin C and a treat. Eggs cook quickly in a pan and the pancake batter can be made the night before, making this meal a good one for when you are pressed for time.

4. One-Pot Wonders

There’s nothing easier than throwing a dish together in one easy-to-clean pot and placing it on the stove, in the oven or in the slow cooker. Try our bean and rice surprise stew or our fish pie, this shakshuka recipe from Sweet Potato Chronicles or slow-cooked chicken thighs in coconut milk and a little agave, with salt and curry spices.

5. Barbecue Picnics

Summer is a great time to fire up the barbecue and dust off the patio chairs. Put together a little backyard picnic. Grill your favourite protein – chicken or turkey breasts, pork chops, a steak or cubed tofu. Toss a mixture of vegetables like peppers, zucchini, green beans and eggplant in balsamic vinegar and cook these on the BBQ atop foil or in a BBQ pan. Add some grilled corn, a steamed vegetable and you have a tasty summer-time meal.

Dinners don’t have to be fancy, especially in the summer-time! Try one of our suggestions and get out of the kitchen. The memories you are making for your children aren’t about gourmet meals and new food combinations, but about the quality time you spend with them while dinner bakes in the oven, grills on the BBQ or simmers effortlessly on the stove.

For more family meal planning ideas, take a look at our ebook “Flawless Family Meals.”

What are your go-to summer meals?

Soy-Based Formulas: Are They Bad For Your Baby?

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Is Soy Formula Bad for Baby?

Accessed on Wikimedia Commons.

Soybeans have received a lot of negative press lately. Our growing awareness of phytoestrogens, and their effect on the body, in particular the body’s development, as well as our concern over genetically modified foods (the conventionally grown soybean is high on the list) have cast it in an unfavourable light. But what about soy-based formulas for infants, where a dairy allergy is present or a parent chooses this type of formula for ethical or other reasons?

New research suggests soy-based formulas are not a wise alternative to milk-based formulas (breast milk is of course the best nutrition for your baby but we recognize that not all women are able to breastfeed). Let’s take a look at the science out there and help you to make an informed choice as to what is right for your baby.

The Healthy Home Economist has put together a comprehensive overview of why soy-based formulas are a poor choice for infants. According to this article, there are three reasons to be cautious of soy: trypsin inhibitors, phytic acid and phytoestrogens.

Trypsin inhibitors are found in soybeans and they are known to inhibit the absorption of nutrients. Most of these inhibitors are deactivated in the processing of infant formula; however, some do remain. Even small numbers of trypsin inhibitors have been found to prevent normal growth in rats. This is a concern for infants, of course, because so much development is happening in the first year of life.

Phytic acid is a substance that inhibits the absorption of such nutrients as iron and zinc. It is present, in high quantities, in grains, legumes and beans, including soybeans. You can take steps to reduce the amount of phytic acid in your diet by trying sprouted grains and soaked beans, but unfortunately the phytic acid in soybeans are particularly resistant to neutralization. It is present in concerning amounts in soy-based infant formulas. The concern is, of course, that phytic acid is inhibiting the absorption of vital nutrients like iron and zinc. Zinc, for example, is necessary in supporting brain development.

Perhaps the most concerning problem with soy-based infant formulas is the presence of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens mimic the female hormone, estrogen, and when present in the body they can have implications on an individual’s hormonal balance, both in the short and long term. Infants exclusively consuming soy-based formula are exposed to high doses of a substance that mimics the female sex hormone. Sounds worrying, right? We don’t yet fully understand the impact of this exposure, in particular on boys raised on soy-based formula. Especially as Eastern nations consume soy daily without the negative effects that we see in North America. The Weston A Price Foundation links a host of concerns to soy-based infant formula.

We’ve seen that babies with sensitivity to dairy based formulas also react to soy formula, which makes it more difficult to find a formula that works for your baby. There is no easy solution. We have clients who have sourced a Nanny Goat Milk Formula through (click the image below) and that has worked well, otherwise baby may need a pre-digested formula like Nutramigen or Alumentium.

What’s New In Research: Infant and Child Nutrition Information

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Poor Diet Pre-Conception Impacts Baby - Sprout Right's Look at New ResearchWe try to stay on top of the latest reports in health research, as it impacts your family. Recently we responded to the newest guidelines to be released about feeding your 6 month to 24 month old. We hope that was helpful! Here, we continue to collect some of the latest research outcomes and health news that may inform your choices as a parent.

Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers Should Take Iodide Supplements

Iodine is an important nutrient that not a lot of people think about but a deficiency can lead to development problems in infants. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are now being advised by the American Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health to supplement with iodine. Iodine is important in the synthesis of thyroid hormones, which are (to simplify) involved in regulating your metabolism. But iodine deficiencies in infants are thought to contribute to possible problems in brain development.  Previously it was thought that iodine deficiencies were rare in developed countries, due to the enrichment of table salt with this element. But processed foods, the form that many of us are consuming salt in, is not iodized. A supplement ensures the baby’s need for this element are being met. The amount in most prenatal vitamins should be sufficient (but check your labels).

New Review Supports Zinc Supplementation in Children

Here is another important nutrient, that doesn’t receive enough buzz in the media! Zinc may be involved in more than 100 functions in the body! Research suggests deficiencies in this important mineral may lead to problems with growth, hair loss and immune function. A recent review of literature on zinc deficiency supports supplementation for children, as the benefits (improved digestive function) outweigh the risks. More research is needed in this area.

Poor Diet Before Pregnancy Linked with Preterm Birth

Researchers have established a link between a woman’s diet BEFORE conception, and birth outcomes for her child. These women are 50% more likely to have a preterm birth, than those who consumed a healthy diet. A poor diet is described as one high in sugar and fat, including a lot of take-out, while a good diet is one rich in protein (from lean sources) and fruit, whole grains and vegetables. This is an important first study in examining the condition of a woman’s body at conception. It supports our belief that a woman should prepare her body for pregnancy! Getting your weight in control before your pregnancy will also reduce your baby’s risk for early health complications. Another study found that babies born to overweight or obese women were at increased risk for birth asphyxia.

If you want to discuss these findings, or anything else you have read in the news recently, be sure to be in touch! Leave your comments here or send us an email!

Changes to Feeding Your Baby: A Response to the New Guidelines

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Sprout Right's Response to New Guidelines

Accessed on Wikimedia Commons. Source:

Change for anyone can be overwhelming. But for new parents who are already confused about feeding their baby, the recent changes published by Health Canada, The Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada and the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada is more to wrap their head around. Although the changes aren’t radical, it could certainly up the stress level of dealing with a lot of conflicting information if doctors don’t report the same thing.

This latest change, as outlined in The Globe and Mail, introduces some new ideas around food introduction but overall, nothing to be alarmed about. Here are some of the key points:

- The report recommends parents start around 6 months of age, not 4 months some practitioners have previously thought;

- Parents are encouraged to begin with iron-rich foods like meat and meat alternatives, and fortified infant cereals, rather than simply infant cereals. This isn’t really new and we’ve talked about this before;

- Advice that parents can begin with textured foods replaces the old thinking that purees were the way to go until baby’s feeding skills improved;

- New research supports the introduction of allergenic foods early (and often), rather than delaying baby’s experience with them. Potentially allergenic foods include eggs, wheat, seafood, soy, peanuts, sesame and tree nuts;

- Parents are encouraged to toss the sippy cups, and let their baby experiment with an open cup from a very young age.

For more details on the changes, you can access the parent’s guide.

Here are some of the items mentioned that we are excited about:

- Offering little or no sugar or salt when giving family meals. That’s a gold star in our books;

- The move away from offering cereal first. In most cases, issues of constipation occurs with the introduction of cereal and this is a disruptive and sometimes painful start to solid food.

But there are some things about this report that we are not so excited about:

- Encourage the ‘munch’ movement (not quite chewing): it’s suggested to offer “crackers, toast, and ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, regardless of whether teeth have appeared.” Well, the earlier recommendation of little to no salt or sugar just went out the window. We’ve mentioned before that cereal, depending on which kind, can be closer to junk food than real food! And crackers are void of nutrients and they contain salt. Toast is a good filler with no phytonutrients, a particular taste to open the palate, or vitamins or minerals needed for healthy growth and development (unless a whole grain, or even better sprouted option, is chosen).

- Encourage lumpy textures beginning at 6 months. Many children will find food with texture difficult to consume at 6 months of age; they may have many gag reflexes to it or they may simply find it unappealing. And many parents will find the gag reflex their baby might offer in response to a stuck piece of steamed carrot too frightening to endure. This may be a good suggestion, but in real life what a baby is able to eat can be the opposite of what’s mentioned here. Don’t throw out the purees just yet!

The rest of the report promotes “Responsive Feeding,” which I interpret as the parent pays attention and responds to baby’s cues regarding how much to feed. Some parents may actually need to hear or read that. Put away the toys and story books while you try to distract your baby into eating.

Overall, the changes shouldn’t take you far off track from either a puree-based introduction or the baby-led weaning approach. Giving finger foods for the experience of texture and tastes can start at six months of age, but be aware that much of what is offered may not actually be swallowed. For this reason, I still recommend offering colourful fruits and vegetables, and in varied forms: some puree so that it’s going down the hatch, and some steamed pieces in a safe size.

Ultimately, be guided by your baby. You are the expert when it comes to your little one; although trying new foods in varying tastes and textures is important, if you see that it’s not going well, ease off, contact us at Sprout Right and get some support.

Is there any clarification needed so you feel confident? Post your questions below.

Sprout A Garden with Your Little One: Gardening with Kids

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Sprout A Garden with Your Little Ones: Tips from Sprout Right

The warmer weather means many of you have begun to tend to your outdoor spaces. Gardening is a great way to get out and enjoy the fresh air. It can also be a really benefic

ial exercise to do with your little ones. Kids get to learn about the process of growing food – from seed to plant, to a fruit or vegetable ripe for the picking. It also helps kids become more sensitive to the importance of food – what it does for their bodies, and for the environment. Not to mention, digging in the dirt is just plain fun!

No matter where you are located – in the city or country, with a big, small or non-existent backyard – you can grow a garden. Here are a few tips on the subject gardening for beginners:

1. If you don’t have a large outdoor space, try container gardening.

Containers can be stored on patios or balconies, and can offer even space-challenged people with the opportunity to grow food. Tomatoes are a popular choice, but just remember they require a lot of nutrients to really grow well. Look for soil specifically designed for container gardening.

2. Involve your kids in choosing what seeds or plants to add to your garden.

Perhaps, every member of the household gets to choose 1-3 different fruits or veggies to plant in the garden.

3. Give your plants enough room to grow.

Don’t crowd your garden with many different seeds and plants, but follow the package instructions (or stake inside the plant) when planning out your garden. When in doubt, give more space.

4. Don’t be afraid to plant outside your comfort zone!

Choose varieties and types of vegetables that are different from what you and your family normally eat. This will help you and your kids to expand your food repertoire and could lead to discovering new loves. Also, experiment with different ways of preparing your crops and involve the kids in this process. Kids are more likely to eat food they grew themselves, and especially when they have been involved in the picking and preparing process.

5. Plant according to your garden conditions.

Some plants require more sun than others. Be sure to read the labels when choosing your seeds or plants. If a plant requires a lot of sun, but your garden provides mostly shade, you won’t enjoy much success. Check out this guide from the city of Toronto. It offers a list of sun and shade-loving plants.

Even if your garden doesn’t produce a lot of bounty, gardening is a great teaching opportunity for your children. It helps you explore the outdoors, nature and the cycle of life together. Plus it can lead to some yummy, pesticide-free and economical meals. What are some of your favourite ways to eat from your garden? And share your gardening photos with us on our Facebook page!

Through the Ages: Vegetarian Curious Kids

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Support Your Vegetarian Curious Child - Advice from Sprout RightTake a look at past blogs in the series, Through the Ages: Pre-Conception Care, Tips for Starting Solid Foods, Milk Alternatives for the Growing Toddler.

As parents we often stress over what our kids do, and do not eat. It doesn’t stop after toddlerhood! As children grow independently, they also come to discover different points of view and cultural practices. What does a carnivore do when her child comes home one day and announces, “I won’t eat meat ever again!” Here are some points to remember,

A vegetarian diet can be a healthy diet

First, we want to be sure you feel confident that even if your child is not eating meat, they are getting the nutrients they need. Meat and eggs are considered complete proteins; they contain all of the essential amino acids. While quinoa is the only plant-based food that can also boast this claim, all plant foods contain some protein and when eaten in combination can supply all of the essential amino acids. It used to be thought that this combining had to happen in the same meal, but new research suggests that if you are getting this diversity of amino acids across a few days of eating, you are getting enough protein.

It is true that ensuring your child eats adequate protein is easier when they consume meat, but gaining all protein from plant-based sources is not only possible but relatively easy if your child is open to trying new foods. Your child may be ok with eating eggs; if so, this is a great source of protein. Also offer tempeh and tofu, lentils and beans, and quinoa. Stay away from processed meat replacements as those are often filled with filler ingredients you wouldn’t really want your child to eat anyway. Involve your children in the process of learning about what foods will give them the nutrients they need; doing this research together can help them to learn how to support their own decision.

Talk about their reasons for choosing vegetarianism

Even if you are skeptical of this new direction in eating, be sure to talk with your child openly about their desire to avoid meat. And try not to be dismissive. Many children become very sensitive to issues of animal welfare and this decision may stem from a growing awareness. Talking about their reasons will help you to understand, and it will give you a chance to affirm their decision. It will also provide them with the opportunity to articulate, and more fully understand themselves, what they are thinking.

Join them, at least a few times a week

It is probably pretty likely that your child’s choice will impact your family in some way and it may even complicate meal-time prep. Don’t stress! Rather than making multiple meals to satisfy differing tastes, aim to prepare fewer meat-based dishes. Going vegetarian yourself a few nights a week will support your child, and a plan for healthy eating. On nights when you do prepare meat for the rest of the family, have vegetarian-based leftovers handy (have leftovers handy anytime by preparing extras each meal and freezing individual-sized portions).

It may be a passing fad or it could be a lasting change. It may be a choice to support animal kindness, or it may be motivated by other things. It is possible, and easy, to support a vegetarian child.