Vegetarian
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Vegetarian Parents: I need your help


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As vegetarian parents, I'd like to know if you are teaching your children your same dietary habits.

If so, what are some of the challenges you've faced? Some victories?

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Oh that's easy...I prefer a vegetarian diet (or pescatarian at the very least).... but my boyfriend is hardcore meat eater.....steak and potatoes kind of guy....

Meal time at my house is hard. Lol. Our son is going to be so confused. Lol.

@nicolae_anna I bet he won’t be confused, he’ll just take it for granted that Daddy loves meat and Mommy doesn’t eat it. Just like it’s not confusing that Dad doesn’t wear dresses and Mom doesn’t shave her face. The first time he goes to a friend’s house where the dad is vegetarian, or the mom eats meat, he might be a little mind-blown, it’ll be his first introduction to the idea that families don’t all do things the same way.

It’s kind of like the way bilingual children aren’t confused, they just take it granted that each parent speaks a different language, and they may be surprised at first when they find out that not all families are like that.

okay, so I'm not a parent YET. But I have been thinking about issues that may come up when I will have children as I am Vegan and plan on raising vegan children.

Issues that will come up:

Hot lunches 
People disagreeing with your choice and possibly going behind your back
People thinking you are HURTING your children
Making sure they fit in. (besides hot lunches, you have bday parties and class events)
Bullying

How to solve some issues:

Prepare your own child's hot lunch.
Make sure you are able to ignore people's comments.
Have Vegan/vegetarian candy/treats for your child for those days

And just overall explain to your child that animals are friends and we don't eat our friends. :) I'm sure by the time they get to school, they will understand enough to know why they don't eat certain things and why other kids do.

I too was worried about all of the concerns posted in the last post by Kumi. My son is almost one and is being raised vegan and to be honest I have (so far) not come up against any negative comments about the food we give our son. It just comes naturally to us to eat vegan because it is what we've always done so packing hot lunches/having vegan treats available etc is second nature really.

My son is really tall and a bit chubby for his age and has beautiful clear skin so i don't think anyone would think he is unhealthy or undernourished so maybe that is why no one ever says anything about our food choices.

Still, when you do have kids, arm yourself with information so that if someone does challenge you, you will be able to justify your decision. at the end of the day, a balanced diet is a balanced diet and how we make it balanced is no ones business but out own!

I'm the only vegetarian in my family. I have four brothers and I live with my mom and stepdad. They all eat meat. (I cook, so I am in a weird situation) my kids will be able to choose. I don't want to force anything on them.
Well I'm a vegetarian CHILD but I think I can help. Everyone in my family are meat-eaters(Reminds me of dinosaurs.) but me. My mother tries to force me into eating meat. She did this yesterday actually, and I HATE it. She doesn't understand how I feel about animals and that I don't want to eat meat and it's my decision. So if I were you, I would see what they want to eat and allow them to keep that decision. But one problem is that I'm underweight(currently gaining and it's a bit harder than if I did eat meat, but I'm gaining.) and my mother can't make lots of dinner's that are new to try because of me. I hope this helps and you get my opinion of what you should do. :)

 

Hi Ela,

The trick that myself and my husband have done is not to force the kids to be vegetarian after all we made the choice and by raising the children with a balanced view, in time they'll at least try it for themselves at some point. We became vegetarians only 2 years ago for a life change so they were already much older (9 & 16) However, this does usually mean that I end up making 2 dinners. Our son (the elder) now prefers vegetarian and our daughter will now try the meat alternative meat balls when having spaghetti, sauce & cheese, but she has a hard time with the burgers! My eldest daughter now married now, and through us is also turning more vegetarian and giving her son meat alternatives leaving her husband to be the carnivore so yes.. I feel by just getting the family to keep trying a bit, no matter how small a portion is the key. If they turn their nose up without trying at all is not an option! (I've made a Shepherd's pie with soya mince but put it into 2 oven dishes so that they think one is veggie and one is a meat one and NO-ONE has even noticed!)

When my son, our firstborn, turned 3, he found out that meat comes from animals. He was horrified that chicken was really chicken, and turkey really turkey. He made the choice that he did not want to eat animals, because he does not want to hurt them. We changed our entire household to be more vegetarian, or to just eat meat separately at the end. When he ate vegetarian, and his father and I ate meat, it stressed him out. It took him some time to not judge people based on their food. He couldn't even imagine eating meat (including fish). He is 8 years old and still a staunch vegetarian. We made the agreement early on with my son that in order to get the vitamins his body needs, if he didn't eat whatever veggies we gave him as well as beans/tofu/meat substitute, he would have to start eating meat again. Now he LOVES tofu, most veggies, all meat substitutes we've tried, and beans. He decided last year not to eat eggs (even though we explained that they weren't fertilized). His logic was that if humans hadn't interfered, they MAY have had the chance to become babies. We haven't spoken to him much yet about animal cruelty leading to veganism, because I don't believe it's very age appropriate, other than light comments of "sometimes farmers are not very nice to their cows..." Also, when my daughter turned 3 (and my son was 6), we had wild turkeys running around our yard during the fall. She used to watch them and make turkey calls at the window for hours. When we spoke about eating turkey for Thanksgiving, she freaked out as well and that's when she turned vegetarian (although, in contrast with her brother, she is still okay with eating eggs). Because there are two of them, we are mostly vegetarian at home and my husband and I only indulge in meat occasionally.

Sorry for the long post! To make a long story short, I think that it should be up to the child to make the choice. The world is far more vegetarian/vegan friendly now and it is possible to "not be difficult" when it comes to eating at restaurants. It is also definitely possible to give them everything they need to stay healthy, but it takes some work paying close attention to what they're putting in their bodies and making sure they're getting enough of what they should. A multi-vitamin isn't enough.

Whatever you choose, good luck!

DD (12) has been struggling for a few years with wanting to be a vegetarian in a non-vegetarian family.  I finally embraced it last year.  

My struggles included:  planning meals to please everyone, without stressing me. 

Victories:  Chilli, with meat fried up separately & you could add it like a topping, rather than the main portion of the meal.  Lots more fish in our diet.

Lessons Learned:  1) Always having a tin of chick peas for those rush days when I want to make sure she gets protein.  2) She doesn't like food that "PRETENDS to be meat", tofu lunch 'meat' or tofu 'hotdogs'.  Still learning.

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As non vegetarian parents, 2 of our children stopped eating meat at about age 12.  I respected their decisions and adjusted our family meals, learning to cook items that suited everyone's needs by adding or deleting items from recipes.  My daughter has a friend who's parents are vegetarian.  I found out years later the friend would sneak meat at our house.  Whenever she was over, I would respect her families decisions and make sure the meal was suitable for her.  She would, according to my daughter, sneak the meat leftovers each time.  I would hate to think your children would need to sneak food if they have an interest in trying something new. 

Teach your children the same dietary habits, but don't deny them experimentation when they desire.  When they are old enough (8-10) talk to them about food choices.  If they want a turkey sandwich, buy a couple slices in the deli....allow them to experiment on your terms!  Please make sure to talk with other parents about your wishes, but never make them sneak food! 

I became a vegetarian a little over 7 years ago and my husband followed shortly after.  At the time, my daughter was 1 year old so she didn't really notice when we removed meat from her diet.  Since then, we've had 2 more children, ages 2 and 3, both raised vegetarian. 

Since it's what they've grown up with, they don't mind eating a meatless diet at all.  My oldest, who is now 8, takes her lunch to school everyday.  When she started kindergarten, she was curious about why the other kids ate "hot lunch" but she always brought her own.  That's when we decided to start introducing our beliefs about why we don't eat meat.  She embraced it and hasn't seemed to be bothered by it since.  Occasionally, some kid makes a stupid remark about her homemade food but she has learned to fire back with some pretty intelligent remarks about why she brings her own lunch.

We live in a VERY small town and I am 99% certain that we are the only vegetarians in the area.  We have been sure to emphasize that not everyone believes that you shouldn't eat meat and even though it's ok to share your thoughts, it's not right to make someone feel bad because they aren't vegetarians.

The only other issue we have come across is dealing with people who are "concerned" about our nutrition.  It's very hard to convince people that your children can be healthy without eating meat.  You will hear, "Where will they get their protien?" a gazillion times.  I'm serious, start counting.  Both my Dad and my husbands Dad have actually gotten angry about it, to the point that they were yelling at us!  They've even tried tricking my 8 year old into eating meat (she refused, by the way!)  The best thing to do is just ride it out.  Eventually they accept it.  Especially when they start seeing that your kids aren't starving or deathly ill. 

Our victories...

when we sit down to supper, we are happy with what is going into our children's mouths.  Not only do they not eat animals but all 3 of my kids know how to enjoy fruits and vegetables.

I can't tell you how rewarding it is to see my daughter starting to develop her own thoughts and ideas about how we should treat animals and our environment.

My husbands parents still don't care for our lifestyle but both of my parents have accepted it and have even started cutting back on their own meat consumption.

 

So happy to hear from another vegetarian parent!  Good luck!

 

I am the only vegetarian (sometimes pescetarian) in the house; hubby is a big-time meat eater. My boys are 5 and 2, and the 5-year old is just starting to question me... I mean, why wouldn't I eat something as yummy as chicken wings!?!  Smile   I agreed with hubby that I would not push my values re: vegetarianism onto the boys, but I do make a conscious effort to buy organic when I can afford to and buy cruelty-free meat products. They say the best persuasion is by example anyway, so if they agree with what I am doing then one day they might change too.  That's what I did: I have two uncles and a momma who are vegetarians.  The biggest concerns for me are 1. their health and 2. a hope that they will at least be passionate and aware.

I think the most challenging thing is meal-time, but I have adapted. I usually just look for vegetarian dishes and see how I can incorporate healthy meats for the boys.

Hi Ela!

I have been vegetarian and 90% vegan (occasion pizza) for 2 years now and have never felt better! I have a 13yr old daughter who of her own accord became curious why all of a sudden I was always in a great mood and actually started looking younger! I explained to her that as I got rid of all the negative toxins (animals/by-products) out of my system I just started to feel nothing but positivity in all areas of my life. I feel like nothing is out of my reach. About 1 year after I became a veghead she came to me and asked "Mom, if I became vegetarian do you think people will make fun of me?" (12yrs old at this time in 6th grade) I JUMPED on that discussion! I asked her if she made fun of people for what they ate or even cared what her friends ate? She said "No". So I told her "There's your answer!" People might look differently at you in the beginning because it's not what they do or how they eat, but once they see that you're no different than they are they could care less what you eat. She is now 13yrs old in 7th grade and has been vegetarian since Feb. 2, 2011. Almost 1 year of becoming a veghead ON HER OWN! She looks great, beautiful skin and even lost all her "baby fat", lol. She likes PB&J's for lunch (obsessively), but occasionally will get a salad at school. She's even got some friends who, because of her, are also trying to be vegetarians! Hope this helps!!! Happy New Year!

My husband and I have been veggie for over 30 years. My kids are now 28 and 25. I didn't want to impose a militant veggie view on them, I wanted to allow them to make their own choice. So they had a mainly veggie diet at home, but when they were out they could eat what they liked - no ban on McDonalds or unable to eat the same food as the other kids at parties. i cooked very small amounts of meat for them at home if that was what they wanted as they got older - bacon sandwiches or spag bol, that kind of thing. They never ate much meat as children as generally they didn't like the taste or texture.

My daughter gave up meat completely in her early teens, and remains a strict veggie - she's 25. My son gave up meat in his mid teens, was vegan for a couple of years, and now is mainly veggie but eats fish occasionally.

So my advice would be don't stress out, feed them veggie at home, but allow them to try meat when away from home. Allows them to fit in, stops conflict with family members, but chances are they'll grow up veggie.

I raised my daughter vegetarian but I often caught my parents, and my child's daycare, feeding her meals with meat in them, even though I had expressly voiced otherwise.  It was seriously a constant struggle to try to get outside forces to adhere to my wishes on my daughter's nutrition.  Finally, when I got out of college I went back to being pescetarian and my daughter, then aged five, I decided, could choose.  She wouldn't eat meat in the house so I knew her meals were healthy at home, and then she could decide after that, but it took a while to teach her that she couldn't use 'I'm a vegetarian' when what she meant was 'I don't like that.'  She would be a meat eater when it was chicken nugget time but play the vegetarian card when there was pepperoni on the pizza!  She gets free lunches at school and they are legally obligated to offer a vegetarian substitute but all the food they serve is so unhealthy and unappealing that she normally just skips lunch altogether and eats a piece of fruit and yogurt brought from home.  She never asks for anything with meat at home and never orders meat dishes when we go out but I know she does with her friends and grandparents.  I figure as she gets older- she's in middle school now- she'll be able to make an educated decision and not feel like she was cheated out of any experience one way or the other.

Original Post by wendynatale:

My husband and I have been veggie for over 30 years. My kids are now 28 and 25. I didn't want to impose a militant veggie view on them, I wanted to allow them to make their own choice. So they had a mainly veggie diet at home, but when they were out they could eat what they liked - no ban on McDonalds or unable to eat the same food as the other kids at parties. i cooked very small amounts of meat for them at home if that was what they wanted as they got older - bacon sandwiches or spag bol, that kind of thing. They never ate much meat as children as generally they didn't like the taste or texture.

My daughter gave up meat completely in her early teens, and remains a strict veggie - she's 25. My son gave up meat in his mid teens, was vegan for a couple of years, and now is mainly veggie but eats fish occasionally.

So my advice would be don't stress out, feed them veggie at home, but allow them to try meat when away from home. Allows them to fit in, stops conflict with family members, but chances are they'll grow up veggie.


I love this viewpoint! Very open and relaxed. Good for you!

Original Post by saussi:

Original Post by wendynatale:

My husband and I have been veggie for over 30 years. My kids are now 28 and 25. I didn't want to impose a militant veggie view on them, I wanted to allow them to make their own choice. So they had a mainly veggie diet at home, but when they were out they could eat what they liked - no ban on McDonalds or unable to eat the same food as the other kids at parties. i cooked very small amounts of meat for them at home if that was what they wanted as they got older - bacon sandwiches or spag bol, that kind of thing. They never ate much meat as children as generally they didn't like the taste or texture.

My daughter gave up meat completely in her early teens, and remains a strict veggie - she's 25. My son gave up meat in his mid teens, was vegan for a couple of years, and now is mainly veggie but eats fish occasionally.

So my advice would be don't stress out, feed them veggie at home, but allow them to try meat when away from home. Allows them to fit in, stops conflict with family members, but chances are they'll grow up veggie.


I love this viewpoint! Very open and relaxed. Good for you!

I grew up in a non-red meat eating household in the early 1980s.  My dad pretty much just ate fish and my mom ate chicken and fish.  I believe my parents told our schools about our diet and probably the parents of our friends as well.  Regardless, neither my brother nor I had any real desire to eat red meat.  I ate 1/3 of a hamburger once in college to be polite and found myself sick for days.  After college, I gave up chicken completely and almost never eat fish (but will when it is my only choice).

My parents were (still are) very healthy eaters so fast food was always out of the question as was candy, soda, etc.  Unfortunately, this backfired once I discovered that I could buy my own candy.  I think if my parents had been a bit more into the balance of eating healthy, I probably wouldn't have eaten so many snickers bars as a teenager.  Now at age 30, I eat just as healthy as my parents, but it took a good ten years to get the constant desire for processed sugar out of my system.  

I'm a vegetarian and my husband is a meat eater. I would say 95% of our meals at home are strictly vegetarian, as we don't make separate meals and my husband is a firm believer that a meal doesn't need meat as long as it tastes good and is nutritious. He does make himself a steak or stew the odd time, and will make regular hamburgers alongside my veggie ones in the summer on the BBQ.

Our son is 19 months old and has been eating regular solid meals since he was six months old.  His tastes are obviously still developing, but at this point he doesn't care much for the texture of meat, and is offered both options. He will be raised with the understanding of both sides; my reasons for not eating meat, and the understanding of where the meat that he is eating comes from.

 My main concern is not that he becomes a vegetarian as well, but that if he does choose to eat meat that he understands and respects the animals that it comes from. Too many people nowadays have a separation about their meat (they won't kill a pig, but have no problem eating bacon).

I beleive that he has been given a wider variety of foods because of the need for nutrinal balance that comes from vegetarianism and has taken to them quite well. For instance some of his favourite foods (aside from all fruits) are avacado, tofu, couscous, kidney beans, spinach and carrots. He loves curries, chilies, soups, stirfries and pastas. He eats great.

Another thing we really try to reinforce is not to praise him for how much he eats or scold him for how little, but to encourage him to try it all. If he doesn't eat it, he's most likely not hungry and doesn't eat then. We'll offer him a snack before bed to ensure he gets enough food before then. This does not mean he can skip dinner and eat cookies later.

I'm not a parent yet, but I was raised a vegetarian by my vegetarian mother.

The only problems growing up with that diet was people would forget I was a vegetarian. At birthday parties, there would only be burgers and hot dogs so I learned to like eating a plain bun with some ketchup. I never felt left out and I was pretty proud of my diet that no one else seemed to do. 

When I was a teenager, I went through a resentful period of time with my mother and as a result, I spitefully ate some chicken. Once that door was open I tried other meats. My tastes are definitely different than other peoples. I've had a bite of steak from a friends plate that she was raving about and I thought it tasted disgusting. It goes on like that with most meats except chicken. 

Chicken was my downfall. I've been trying to get back to vegetarianism off an on for about 5 years now. It's pretty difficult since there's always so many more meat options on menus than vegetarian ones. (And there's no price deduction if you ask to hold the chicken on you're salad which irritates me to no end). 

I definitely felt healthier as a vegetarian and my weight didn't flux as much as it does now. I was a pretty skinny child too; however, I think that's simply because of my tendency to be picky. I had a normal appetite back then too. Now I feel like I eat too much because I don't have structure to my diet anymore. I'm very glad I was raised vegetarian and wish I still was.

Congratulations on handling this so well!

 

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