Tara’s 10 Tips on Raising Vegetarian Kids:
- Tell them why: The first step is to establish a clear answer as to why your family is vegetarian. Then include the kids, educate them, and support them in understanding the family decision. Half the battle with getting kids to agree or compromise is giving them honest information to work with.
- Tell their pediatrician: A misconception is that a vegetarian kid is going to be malnourished, underweight, and anemic. Including the pediatrician in your family’s decision to be vegetarian will ensure that these misconceptions are properly addressed and individual nutritional needs.
- Don’t become “carbatarians”: Many new vegetarians fail their new vegetarian lifestyle because they have cut out meat and substituted it with pasta, bread, and French fries and then they gain weight, and become bored and frustrated. There are so many wonderful grains, beans, and vegetables to explore for vegetarians … don’t eat just pasta … please!
- Don’t worry about protein!!!!: Americans are obsessed with protein. Eat a variety of foods and you will get enough protein. Foods such as nuts, nut butters, beans, quinoa, and certain vegetables have protein. If you are not vegan enjoy eggs, cheese, yogurt, milk, and organic whey protein powders.
- Become a planner: So … you can’t just show up at a party or a picnic without some food. Bring a dish you are sure your family can and will eat. You need to plan for meals on the road, lunch boxes, dinners, and vacations. This is part of the deal unless you are willing to compromise your vegetarianism … plan ahead.
- Be strong when faced with disapproval from family: Remember why you are raising vegetarian kids and be able to communicate that effectively. Reassure them that you are making the healthiest choice for your own child.
- Be friends with vegetarian families. Don’t be friends with only vegetarian families: Help kids and teens navigate the real world as a vegetarian and that includes being around meat eaters. Teach them how to handle social situations without feeling awkward about possibly being the only vegetarian.
- Research: Seek out vegetarian friends for recipes and go-to markets and restaurants, and there are an abundance of vegetarian cookbooks, videos, and recipes. Vegetarian food doesn’t have to be peculiar foods that no one has even heard of, nor does it have to taste bad.
- Make it fun: Discover and experiment with ethnic foods, try new flavors, let the kids plan the menu, make breakfast for dinner, try to eat the rainbow at each meal, cut the veggies and cheese in shapes, put food of skewers, not eating animals IS fun!
- Be flexible: I have a hard time with this one … sometimes all they will have to eat while they are out is the ice cream and you will have to be ok with that because they knew enough to skip the hot dog, sometimes they will question if they want to be vegetarian, remember to be supportive and informative. Sometimes you hit a road block with recipes and ideas, that is where MyVegetarianFamily.com comes in … glad you are here!
Any other vegetarian parents (or kids) have your own helpful hints for raising vegetarian kids?