Your child announces that she is going to become a vegetarian–now what?
First, take an interest in your teen’s choice. Why has she chosen to become a vegetarian? Is it because she wants a healthier lifestyle (vegetarianism has been associated with lower rates of cancer and heart disease), or is it because she is concerned about animal cruelty? Second, define what type of vegetarian lifestyle your child has chosen. There are numerous options:
- An ovo-vegetarian eats eggs but no meat
- A lacto-ovo vegetarian eats dairy and egg products but no meat
- A lacto-vegetarian eats dairy but no eggs or meat
- A vegan-eats only food from plant sources. If your child chooses to be vegan, realize this not only impacts her choice of foods, but also her choice of apparel (not wearing wool, leather, etc.)
If your child has declared that she is now a vegetarian, it might be a phase–or it might be a lifelong dietary decision. Either way, you are going to want to make sure she has a balanced and nutritional diet. Protein is the main concern when providing meals for vegetarians. Peanut butter, beans, avocados and dairy products (if your child will eat dairy) plus certain vegetables (spinach for example) are excellent sources of protein. There are many vegetarian cookbooks available as well as many recipes on the internet.
I once made an entirely vegetarian Thanksgiving meal. It’s possible!
And remember, fun learning is forever learning.