Raising a child that is vegetarian.

Laura - posted on 01/17/2009 ( 9 moms have responded )




My 16 year old daughter has decided about a year ago to become vegetarian. At first it was ok because she would eat chicken and fish. She has now decided to not eat any meat. She does eat dairy products. I'm really struggling with what to fix her for meals, when the rest of the family is not vegetarian. I'm not sure I know how to make sure she is getting the proper nutrition that she needs and what kinds of foods to keep in the house for her to eat. She likes to eat lots of pasta and junk food. If anyone has any tips or suggestions I would appreciate it.


Ally - posted on 01/18/2009




I have been a vegetarian for about 11 years now and my husband (and now daughter) are not. Usually what I do instaed of making two separate meals i pick some healthy side dishes that everyone like and then if I am cooking them chicken for example i will make myself a boca "chicken" sandwich and it doesn't take a lot more effort on my part. Also I use the morning star fams or boca crumbles a lot in place of ground beef so that we can all eat the same dinner. It is lower in calories and fat than meat and in dishes like sloppy joes or tacos it's hard to tell the difference!

Zoe - posted on 01/18/2009




This was me twenty years ago.  was it that long ago?  Anyhow my thoughts and memories on this.  I was passionate about being vegitarian It was more about being a young adult and making choices. My parents said ok you can do that but you have to cook your own food.  Which I did.  in the days minus linda mcCartney pies or any of the pre made stuff.  Basically my advice get her a cook book with easy to follow stuff. say you plan your food for the week, tell me what you need from the shop (for your weekly shop) and leave her to it.  I learnt to cook in a very creative way. I am now a good cook as a result of this. This phase lasted about ten years then I moved to devon and started eating beef... funny beause I miss all that BSE hysteria.  Now my partents 20 years on can't eat that much meat and practically veggie,  very funny. In terms of what to cook.  Try not to fall into the trap of using too much cheese.  You need to spend some time in a good book shop with her and find some appealling books to cook.  Indian food is always a good option, home cooked of course.  So in effect I am saying this might not be that hard, but she has to take on the responsibility herself.  There might be some instructional dvds out there for veggie cooking.  there are certainly veggie cooking classes in night school though she might not have time.  good luck.

Lkneedham - posted on 01/17/2009




me too! i dont eat meat either...but one way you can encourage her to stop the junk food is to give her a taste of her own medicine (pardon the pun).... many junk foods and candy, etc have "meat" in them... ie... skittles, starburst, marshmallows etc have gelatin, which is the processed bone marrow of dead cows and pigs. things like criss cutt fries from like carls jr etc have lard.... which is dead cow too. i would suggest she do research herself. she can find out that cheez whiz and ceasar dressing have dead anchovies in it...she will find out that even though she isnt eating meat, she still isnt eating healthy...
good luck!

Jeramie - posted on 09/20/2011




I remember some friends I had in high-school who were vegetarian. I thought it was super unhealthy because everyday for lunch they would have nothing but a huge plate of french fries!! or sometimes macaroni and cheese. Does she buy her lunch from school or bring her own? Because kids don't always make the best decisions about school lunches. keep lots of canned beans and dried lentils, brown and wild rice, and other whole grains like bulger, quinoa, or couscous in the house So she knows about lots of healthy options besides pasta. And if she just loves pasta, make sure you are keeping Whole Grain pasta, because It is much healthier than refined. Maybe once a week you could get your whole family eating healthier by having "meatless mondays" or something. You could try out some vegitarian recipes for yourself, this would help you understand how to cook vegi and get your daughter to help cook it so she isn't just rebelling, but participating in the family dinner.


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I am primarily a vegetarian, too and have been for a while. the greatest (and easiest) thing for me has been the raw food recipes. Green smoothie is veggies and fruit in a blender (i add flax seeds and sunflower/pumpkin seeds for protein) (many recipes on-line and just play around with what you like). I make a double batch in the morning and have one with breakfast and one with lunch....no need for multi-vitamins with this rich blend!

Raw-food detox diet is a book with lots of info and some basic recipes. Since everything is raw she does not have to do a lot of cooking, just prep work! you can find the book at amazon or barnes and noble....my mom found it at a half-price bookstore in her town!

so many options now! it can be a very healthy lifestyle!

Tamrha - posted on 01/18/2009




I would go invest in a few new cookbooks... and have your daughter go thru them with you so that you both learn the proper nutrition and diet a healthy vegetarian. Its very easy to not do this right... replying on pastas, breads, refined foods is not the way to go, & Im sure you understand this. Many vegetarians who don't learn how to cook the right way end up leaning much too heavily on the carbs... & gain weight. She'd 16 so she may have a great metabolism now, but still.

I'd recommend the Low Carb Vegetarian Cookbook and Vegan Planet, both by Robin Robertson. The ingredients are easy to find and we LOVE every recipe! Even my carnivorous extended family members love what6 I make out of these books.

Once you get the hang of it,a vegetarian diet is really easy and well worth the time spent figuring it out! Go vegetables, whole grains, legumes, tofu and soy products... now a days there's awesome meat substitutes out there! Look for Morning Star and Quorn brands. We love those!

Emma - posted on 01/18/2009




As far as nutrition goes, lentils/beans and rice and lentils/beans and corn combos will provide complete protein.  Soybeans and soy products such as tofu will also provide complete protein.  There are loads of vegetarian cookbooks out there that can be a great resource not just for recipes, but nutritional info.  She might need to take a B vitamin supplement also.  Her doctor (or your own) can provide resources for maintaining proper nutrition while being meat-free.

Now, what is her motivation for becoming vegetarian?  Is it religious or ethical convictions, or because she thinks it is cool?  I ask this because this is more than just a look, this is a serious lifestyle choice.  She needs to be much more conscious of what she eats as a vegetarian than nonvegetarians, especially as she is still growing.  Also, since she has made such an adult decision about her diet, she should take some responsibility for providing herself with adequate nutrition.  If she does not do some cooking/food prep for herself, she should probably start.  If she is in it for the long haul, she will need to learn how to prepare vegetarian meals for herself anyway.  It is unfair to you to have to consistently provide separate meals for her.

Hope this helps!  Good Luck!


Elizabeth - posted on 01/17/2009




When it comes to what foods to keep in the house for her, maybe you could take her to the grocery store, or health food store if she prefers, and let her pick out some foods that can be set aside specifically for her.  Fruits and veggies she likes, as well as snack foods.  That way, you know what to get her, and she's getting healthy stuff that is ok for her to eat.

Amy - posted on 01/17/2009




If it's any help to you, I'm pretty much the same way as your daughter. I don't eat meat, fish, or hardly any dairy(just cheese ocasionally). I am now 33 years old. I've been like this since I'm about 18. When I was younger, my mom took me to the doctor and he said I was probably healthier than they were. I've had 3 children and they are as healthy as could be. I eat pasta, salads, alot of vegetables (cooked and raw), fruit. Pretty much anything that's not meat!!!

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