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Developing a Food Exchange System for Meal Planning in Vegan Children and Adolescents

Nutrition Unit, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Zaragoza, 22002 Huesca, Spain
Department of Paediatrics, Imperial College London, London W12 0HS, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2019, 11(1), 43;
Received: 3 December 2018 / Revised: 19 December 2018 / Accepted: 21 December 2018 / Published: 25 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vegan Nutrition)
PDF [295 KB, uploaded 26 December 2018]


Vegan diets in children need to be adequately planned so they can safely meet children’s requirements for growth and development. Adequate and realistic meal planning guidelines should not be difficult to achieve, thanks to the increasing number and availability of natural and fortified vegan foods, which can help children to meet all their nutrients requirements. In order to ensure an adequate supply of key nutrients, families and health professionals need accurate, reliable, and easy-to-use meal planning tools. The aim of this article is to provide a practical approach system to meal planning, based on the same food exchange methodology that has been already published in adults. Daily portions of each food exchange group have been calculated so the resulting menu provides at least 90% of the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) of protein, iron, zinc, calcium, and n-3 fatty acids for each age group, sex, and physical activity level. These diets do not provide enough vitamin B-12 and vitamin D. Although fortified plant drinks, breakfast cereals or plant protein-rich products could provide variable amounts of these two vitamins, B12 supplementation is always recommended and vitamin D supplementation should be considered whenever sun exposure is limited. This tool can be used to plan healthful and balanced vegan diets for children and adolescents. View Full-Text
Keywords: food exchange; vegan diets; meal planning; vegan food portions; nutritional composition food exchange; vegan diets; meal planning; vegan food portions; nutritional composition
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Menal-Puey, S.; Martínez-Biarge, M.; Marques-Lopes, I. Developing a Food Exchange System for Meal Planning in Vegan Children and Adolescents. Nutrients 2019, 11, 43.

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