Many parents need to find ways to cope with a vegetarian child. It can be difficult to adjust to your child wanting to change their diet if they have been brought up eating meat. You may worry that they won't get enough nutrition, or feel that you don't want to cook different meals. Fortunately there are lots of tips that will help when your child chooses to give up meat. Try these ways to cope with a vegetarian child …
1. Support Their Choice
Of all the ways to cope with a vegetarian child, the most important is to support their choice. You might not understand why they would want to give up meat, but they are entitled to a say in what they eat. If it is a fad, it will pass, but they are much more likely to be committed to a meat-free diet.
2. Get Them Involved in Cooking
It might seem like catering for a vegetarian is going to be a hassle, when you're cooking a 'regular' meal for the rest of the family. If so, getting your new vegetarian to help out with the cooking will make things easier. Cooking is an essential skill that you should teach your kids anyway.
Many parents of new vegetarians are concerned that their child won't get the right nutrition. If you're among them, turn to the internet for answers. There are numerous websites with lots of useful information on feeding a veggie child. Take a look at youngveggie.org, vegetariankids.co.uk npr.org, and vegkitchen.com.
4. Stop Worrying
Many parents were themselves brought up to believe that a meal must include meat, so they worry when their child wants to become a vegetarian. There's no need to worry that your child is going to die of malnutrition. Their new diet will involve some changes, but there are many ways of getting what their body needs.
There are so many vegetarian products available in the supermarkets that it's easy to substitute them for the meat equivalent in family meals. Look for veggie sausages, burgers, mince and steaks. Once you've grown used to cooking with these products, you can look up recipes and make your own tasty burgers etc.
6. Meat-Free Days
If your objection to your young veggie is that you think it will be a nuisance cooking something different for them, then you could cook a vegetarian meal for everyone. Many families have meat-free days; following suit means that you can cook one meal and be healthier, while still enjoying meat in your diet.
7. Be Proud
Your first reaction may be one of annoyance, or puzzlement. Why does your child want to stop eating meat? But you should be proud of them. They have thought about the issues, and come to the conclusion that they want to eat a meat-free diet. Even if you don't think that way yourself, be pleased that you have raised a child who thinks and reasons.
There are thousands of recipe books for feeding a vegetarian child. They're a great place to start if you're feeling lost, and are a great source of information. Try your local bookstore or wholefood store, or order online. The wholefood store can also give you tips.
When your child announces that they want to turn vegetarian, you may be annoyed or worried. But there's really no need to worry about them, or think that you'll be spending all day in the kitchen. You'll soon adjust to their changed diet - it's really not that complicated. They can get everything they need from non-meat sources. Were you a young vegetarian, and how did your parents react?