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Help me feed my newly vegetarian 6 year old

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Last week my 6 year old dd made an impassioned plea to become a vegetarian (moral reasons).  I want to honor her personal beliefs, but I am finding it difficult to feed her healthy, nourishing meals outside of a few half-dozen stand-bys.   I need help finding recipes.  I don't mind doing a little extra work, but I don't want to cook two dinners every night.  I usually cook lighter fair during the summer months anyway, but I could really use some help figuring out a strategy.


Here are the list of foods that she is still willing to consume: occasional seafood, fermented cod liver oil (she hasn't made the connection yet), eggs, fish eggs, dairy (we have a good source for raw milk, but we don't usually consume cooked dairy).  She is gluten intolerant and we don't consume a large amount of grain.  I think I can still sneak some bone broth in her meals (I know this goes against her beliefs, but I am comfortable over-riding this instance).


Any ideas?

post #2 of 7

I don't know much about him BUT Joel Fuhrman, MD wrote about food for children. He eats vegan?

post #3 of 7

Does she know that gelatin comes from animals?  Grass-fed gelatin desserts would be a good idea.


I love using hard boiled eggs for "meat" substitutes.  I'll quarter them and put them in curries, or use them in casseroles.  Fritatas are also nice.  And, of course, egg salad sandwiches.  But my kids also like the egg salad served in Romain lettuce boats, to avoid the whole gluten problem.


I cannot remember the title at all (so helpful, I know) but when I was vegetarian I found a book at the library talking about how to cook simple meals for the whole family, even though they were split vegetarian/meat eaters.  It seemed like a very helpful book.

post #4 of 7

You might want to make a big pot of beans every few days - like pinto beans, black beans, red beans, etc.  Then you can serve them as a side dish with family meals, and your daughter can eat them instead of meat.  Do your meals include a carbohydrate rich course?  You said you eat few grains, but do you eat potatoes, sweet potatoes or squash often?  She will have complete protein if she eating eggs and dairy, so you don't need to worry about balancing out the bean proteins perfectly with grain/seed/potato type proteins like you might if she were vegan.  But she might get hungry on a low carb type diet that is also vegetarian. 


My whole family is vegetarian, but people are picky, so everyone doesn't eat exactly the same thing each night.  I just try to make sure that there is at least one side dish out on the table at each meal that each person likes, so that no one goes hungry.  If you have side dishes that are vegetarian, then she can fill up on those, and everyone else can share them too. 


If you're worried that the family meals won't be enough for her, you can make some extra nutritious snacks for her too.  I like making frozen fruit custard pops in the summer with eggs, coconut milk, fruit and honey.  Pumpkin seeds are full of zinc and iron.  You can toast them and put them in a trail mix with dried fruit and toasted buckwheat.  Bananas are tasty and filling. 


I applaud you for respecting your daughter's decision.  When I wanted to be a vegetarian as a teenager, my parents did not allow me to do so, and made me feel very guilty for making more work for my mother after I grew up and came back for visits.  And they weren't even all that invested in the idea of proper nutrition (as you probably are)!  We've moved past all that now, and they respect the fact that we are raising their grandchildren vegetarian.  So I think that it's wonderful that you can honor her ideals, even though she is only six. You must have a very special relationship.   

post #5 of 7

First of all it is awesome that you are honoring this - even if it is a phase, it give her some control and it can be a very healthy choice.  Get yourself a Dr. Joel Furman book, Almost all of his recipes are gluten free and vegan.  He focuses on nutrition rather than veganism or gluten-free (i.e. what you do eat, rather than what you don't eat).  I learned a lot from "Disease-free Child".  You may even find some really great things for your whole family to eat.  Soaked almonds are a fantastic source of calcium and protein.  Good luck and kudos.  

post #6 of 7
My DH, now in his mid-thirties, went vegetarian when he was 7 and he never ate meat again! His mom didn't know what to feed him so he basically grew up on grilled cheese and PBJs. Good for you for looking beyond those!
post #7 of 7

My DD went vegetarian (also occasional seafood) when she was 9, but I never try to "sneak" anything past her. If there is chicken broth in the soup, I let her know. I told her gelatin is made from bones. She gets to choose what to do with that knowledge. On occasion she has "cheated" and eaten the food (strawberry pie made with jello), but usually she passes on it. Maybe you could tell your daughter that you are concerned about nutrition and have her help you find recipes and prepare meals instead of sneaking in non-vegetarian foods?


What vegetables, fruits, greens does your daughter eat? There might be good side dishes to be made with those to complement the things you already mentioned.

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