When your child wants to be a vegetarian, you can do one of two things: talk him out of it or support him in it and help him on his vegetarian journey. If you are going to support your child, these tips can be very helpful to get you started.
Try the tips when your child wants to be a vegetarian:
- Find out Why. Make sure that she has a good reason.
- Do not force your child to eat meat. Your child would resent you for it. Instead, explain what it means and look into it with her.
- Help her look into a vegetarian diet, so you can learn together. Talk to a nutritionist and look online.
- Think about becoming a vegetarian with your child, just to try to understand and help her even more.
- Research which types of foods and nutrients you will need to eat to replace meat.
- Try to have a few meatless meals for the rest of your family every week, to save you from cooking so many meals.
- Incorporate more pastas with sauces into his diet. You can add many vegetables to this in a pureed form. You can add meat to half of the sauce for the rest of the family.
- Stir-fry vegetables are the perfect meal because it is all cooked in one pan.
- Explore different proteins, like tofu and veggie burgers.
- Explain to your child that he might have to eat a foods like Kale, that are a little bitter, in order to get the proper nutrients.
- Explain about how having meat is different from having milk or cheese. (vegetarian vs. vegan)
- Remember that this may just be a phase and try to be supportive through every part of it.
- Cereal or fruit for every meal is not going to be sufficient. Be sure that your child knows this before they embark on this journey.
- Find other means of protein: dairy products, eggs, grains, legumes, pulses, tofu and other soy foods will all work.
- Have your child help plan the meals. Search on Pinterest and in Vegetarian cookbooks for recipes like vegetarian sliders and many more. Make a weekly meal plan.
- Talk to other vegetarians and try to get on a meal-swap plan for a few weeks. You both cook meals, making double, and then you swap with one another once a week. (Freeze the meal for your friend, if possible.)
- “Vegetarian diets for children can be nutritionally complete as long as they include iron and zinc, consumed from wholegrain bread and cereals, eggs and legumes such as kidney beans.” ~Susie Burrell
- Keep a look out for any real red flags that would worry you. They would suggest that your child is not tolerating their vegetarian diet well and you would need to make changes. Remember that too many cereals, bagels, slices of bread or cakes are not going to make a nutritious diet. Remind your child of that often, as well.
If your child wants to become a vegetarian, it can be hard and it can be a long journey, but if you are willing to support your child, it can help you both grow in this new area. You can use the meal-planning time as one on one time and really bond because of this. Check out what other parents are saying on issues like this and many others on our QuirkyMomma Facebook page.