Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 mo of life followed by optimal complementary feeding are critical public health measures for reducing and preventing morbidity and mortality in young children. Clinical factors, such as birth weight, prematurity, and illness, that affect the iron and zinc requirements of younger infants are discussed. Maternal diet and nutritional status do not have a strong effect on the mineral content of human milk, but physiologic changes in milk and the infants’ status determine the dependence of the infant on complementary foods in addition to human milk to meet iron and zinc requirements after 6 mo. The nature of zinc absorption, which is suitably characterized by saturation response modeling, dictates that plant-based diets, which are low in zinc, are associated with low absolute daily absorbed zinc, which is inadequate to meet requirements. Foods with a higher zinc content, such as meats, are much more likely to be sufficient to meet dietary requirements. Current plant-based complementary feeding patterns for older fully breastfed infants in both developed and developing countries pose a risk of zinc deficiency. The strong rationale for the potential benefits of providing meat as an early complementary food, and the examples of successful intervention programs, provide potent incentives to pursue broader implementation programs, with concurrent rigorous evaluation of both efficacy and effectiveness. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85(suppl):639S-45S.