Kids these days are increasingly self-inquiring about nutrition, and more and more young people are coming home and telling their parents that they would like to give up meat products.
Even if you’re not on a plant-based diet, your child’s new diet doesn’t have to make life difficult for you. Here’s what you should do when your young vegetarian (or vegan) takes a stand.
Invite your child to share with you their motivation for not eating meat. Think of it as an opportunity to learn more about his values and worldview (or at least what influences he has among his peers). After listening to your child, you will understand him better, and maybe even want to join him on the transition to a plant-based lifestyle.
Homework – meal plan
Have your child create a list of nutritious snacks and meals and a shopping list, as well as talk about the vegetarian food pyramid and explain how they will eat a balanced diet. Emphasize to your child that they should focus on important nutrients such as protein, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, and that they should not always rely on the Internet to find the information they need, as there are many misleading sources.
Chances are, you will hear a lot and often from your child about his new interests. Yes, the intrusive flow of information can be annoying at times, but stay calm and ask to continue the conversation another time if you need a rest. In any case, of all the choices a child can make, vegetarianism is by no means the worst.
Set the basic rules for a healthy diet
Let your child understand that being a vegetarian is not the same as eating fast food. You don’t need to ban chips and cookies, but healthy, whole foods should be your child’s focus. If you need help with groceries or meal preparation, ask your child to participate. It is also fair to ask that there be no heated discussions about nutrition during meals. Mutual respect is key!
Cook and eat together
Sharing recipes and trying new dishes can be a great way to interact. With a little effort, you can cook dishes that will satisfy everyone. For example, pasta can be eaten by everyone in the family – someone with meat sauce, and someone with vegetables. Get ready to discover all the variety of food and stock up on fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, tofu and tempeh.
Learn the labels
Get in the habit of always reading food labels. Non-vegetarian ingredients appear in unexpected places: in baked goods, in broths, in candies. Make a list of suitable products – this will greatly facilitate the task.