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Veggie parents with a meat eater kid?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I have been a vegetarian for 12 years (DH for five years) and have always planned on raising our kids veggie too. My dd is five and has always been vegetarian. I never craved meat at all when I was pregnant with her. When I was pregnant with DS I craved meat constantly and dairy made me sick. I gave in to the meat craving figuring that such a strong craving meant that I needed something nutritionally. I even ate eggs (which I completely despise and never eat) and at the time thought they weren’t that bad- in attempt to avoid eating meat. When I did eat meat when I was pregnant it was wild caught salmon or organic chicken. After so many years of vegetarianism, I just couldn’t face anything more than that. DS was born, and he is allergic to milk (cow and goat cause reactions). He is very picky about eating eggs, most of the time he will refuse them. His protein sources consist of beans and lentils and nut butters (in combination with various whole grains). We eat soy 1-2 times a week- in the form of miso, tempeh, or tofu. We do not eat any other types of soy products (including soy milk) because they are too heavily processed. After reading some of the material about soy consumption, I thought it would be best to limit our soy consumption to more moderate amounts. Soy also tends to make DS gassy, so that is another reason to limit it. We have a hard time filling DS up. He eats constantly and is always hungry. He still nurses frequently on evenings/nights/weekends. I pump, and he takes about 4 oz. of ebm while I am at work. I posted a while ago about trying to fill him up- and got good suggestions. We have tried giving him more fat, in particular, to satisfy him longer. We have enriched food he eats by adding flax and wheat germ. It has helped a bit. I wonder if he should be eating some meat. Trying meat brings up all sorts of issues for us- we have never cooked meat in our house. I walked down the meat isle of the whole foods market this weekend and felt extremely uncomfortable. Would we cook it just for him?

I had the feeling when I was pregnant with him that he wasn’t vegetarian. Whether it was intuition or some type of communication, many of the other “feelings” I had when I was pregnant with DS have been extremely accurate. Anyone else vegetarian and not have a vegetarian kid? How does it work in your house?
post #2 of 23
I'm not sure how adding meat to his diet would benefit him. There's no vitamins or fiber in meat. From my perspective it would be adding something not too nutritionally beneficial. Are you looking to increase his caloric intake? Or are you trying to give him a sense of satiety?

You might want to consult with a vegetarian dietician to get some ideas and advice. But adding meat to his diet is just going to increase his risk for health problems. It seems like a step backward to me, nutritionally. If he's already vegetarian, I say stick with that and try to solve the problem from within that arena.
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
I want to both increase his satiety and increase his caloric intake. He already eats a tremendous amount of food- at dinner time he often eats the same size portion that I do- and he is 14 months old. He is about 20 lbs. I would welcome suggestions about how to fill him up with vegetarian foods, but I really feel like we have tried pretty much everything. The pediatrician told me to feed him more soy or to feed him small amounts of meat. He doesn’t believe in the negative information about either soy or meat- so I am really confused about exactly what to do.
post #4 of 23
Can you feed higher fat foods? Give him lots of avo-- even in smoothies. Ddd olive oil to whatever he is eating Sautee the tempeh in olive oil etc) , add flax seed oil to his diet? he might be in a grow spurt and this won't last that much longer. he may need more protein right now. My kids do eat meat, but I know it's easy to get veg protein. (I was a veg for about 20 yrs). Might you feel OK about a giving him a flavored cod liver oil--one from Nordic Natural, perhaps?
post #5 of 23
The satiety will be increased with the higher fat foods. Try a rice milk shake:

2 scoops of non-dairy vanilla ice cream
1 cup of enriched rice milk
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
like a teaspoon of flax oil (won't notice the taste)
1 banana (frozen or fresh)

High in calories and fat, tasty, easy to guzzle.

Or chocolate syrup, rice milk, and non-dairy ice cream (or a banana).

Fiber will also fill him up, so meat won't help there. But lots of fruits and veggies will.

20 pounds does not seem terribly low weight at 14 months, but *shrug* I don't know.

Fruit smoothies would be good too, they will be high in calories. I used to make my son a 400 calorie smoothie in the morning. I was giving him about 1600 calories per day to try to increase his weight. Some days he was eating more than me.

Keep going with the good quality oils, a little margarine here and there (I used to mix a teaspoon of margarine in with his tomato soup, he liked that). Each teaspoon of fat adds like 40-50 calories.
post #6 of 23
we're vegetarian. he's vegetarian. when he can buy it himself and cook it at his own home he can be non-vegetarian. If he wants to eat meat he can take part in the murdering of the said animal, etc. before I would allow him to eat it. Give that kid another bean burrito and call it good.
post #7 of 23
If your son is already dairy allergic, you probably should not be giving him nut butters directly, or eating it yourself if you're providing breastmilk for him.

Current research suggest that children with any food allergies should not be introduced to peanuts, tree nuts, fish or shellfish until age 3 at the bare minimum. It also suggests that nursing mothers who have allergies or older children with allergies should avoid eating those items while nursing.
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by WC_hapamama
If your son is already dairy allergic, you probably should not be giving him nut butters directly, or eating it yourself if you're providing breastmilk for him.
Ordinarily, of course this is true - but this kid is already having trouble getting enough calories!

To the OP: in your situation I would definitely be cooking meat. I've been veggie for 23 yrs and I don't think of meat as an ideal food choice, but if you buy good organic meat and your child will eat it, well, that might be what it takes to keep him healthy, happy and growing well at this age. It sounds like it's a big effort right now to feed him, and he's still hungry (and if he's feeling hungry all the time that's really going to be affecting his daily life - his ability to focus on tasks, for example). There may be other ways you can get more veggie fat/calories into him, but if it's not working... you have to give him the food he needs, and in his case it just might be meat.
post #9 of 23
It is true that meat does not provide fiber or as many vitamins as fruits, vegetables and grains, but it is not empty calories like sugar etc. There are minerals and some vitamins and protein.

I am vegetarian but every few years I go through a phase where I simply do not feel well or satisfied until I eat a little meat for a few days. Everybody is different. You can try it for a little while and if it doesn't make a difference to him you can resume a vegetarian diet for him.
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by mavery
Ordinarily, of course this is true - but this kid is already having trouble getting enough calories!
A nut allergy would only compound that problem. Giving a small child that already has one food allergy something as highly allergenic nuts is asking for trouble.

Trust me, I can understand how hard it is to get a lot of calories into a dairy allergic kid when you're also avoiding other highly allergenic foods... I ended up making a lot of rice milk, avocado and banana smoothies for my daughter when she was tiny.

I do realize this is mothering.com, but if getting enough calories remains a problem, the OP might want to consider supplementing with an elemental formula like Neocate.
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin Pavlina
I'm not sure how adding meat to his diet would benefit him. There's no vitamins or fiber in meat. From my perspective it would be adding something not too nutritionally beneficial. Are you looking to increase his caloric intake? Or are you trying to give him a sense of satiety?

You might want to consult with a vegetarian dietician to get some ideas and advice. But adding meat to his diet is just going to increase his risk for health problems. It seems like a step backward to me, nutritionally. If he's already vegetarian, I say stick with that and try to solve the problem from within that arena.

okay, that is simply NOT true. i am vegetarian, dh is vegan, and ds is vegetarian, fwiw, but the truth is that organic meat is GOOD for you, and has all the basic vits & minerals, and also lots of fiber. i dont eat meat because i dont believe in factory farming (and also bc ive been veg for so long i dont think i could go back), but i truly believe it is a healthful food.



if i was in your situation, i would try to find a local organic farmer where i could get eggs and occ. meat that i knew was organic and humane. i cant think of any other way they i would be okay with feeding my kid meat.

also, how old is ds? he might not be okay with eating meat, if you explained to him what it was.

that is a tricky one. spirulina has protein in it, beans are good. can he have dairy? coconut oil is a good saturated fat. avocados are great. whole grains have a lot of protein too. i make ds oatmeal with yogurt and a touch of honey, and that fills him up for a while.
post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
I really appreciate all the response and the debate too. These are many of the things that have been swimming around in my head. I actually think that DS’s growth is probably just right for him, but he is always hungry- and he eats about the same amount of food that I do in the day. I am not exaggerating- we have gone to great lengths to measure how much food he is eating. He eats lots of fruits and veggies, beans and whole grains. That is the pretty much the whole diet in our house. For that last month or so we have made an effort to up the fat and protein in his diet to help satisfy him and it doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference. I really get squeamish myself when I think about feeding and preparing meat- especially for a 14 month old- but I have been wondering if maybe that is what is missing. Just because vegetarianism works for me, does that mean it works best for him?

Here is what he ate yesterday:
Smoothie (about 12 oz- fortified rice milk, cashew butter, frozen blueberries, banana, wheat germ, flax oil), 1 slice sprouted wheat bread with cashew butter, 1 sliced apple, ½ cup of homemade granola (low sugar), about 1 cup of veggies and kidney beans strained from vegetable soup and about 1 cup miso soup broth with about 1 tsp oil added (olive oil with a couple drops of sesame oil), 2 ak-mak crackers, 4 oz. bottle of ebm, 1 lara bar (raw almonds and dried fruit), 1 baked potato, ½ cup green beans, ½ cup garbanzo beans – the last three tossed together with olive oil, garlic and lemon juice, about a dozen black olives, about a dozen cherry tomatoes, two homemade falafel patties, about ½ cup of “ice cream” made of frozen coconut milk and dates, ½ banana, and he nursed about 5 times.

Maybe this is a normal amount for a 14 month old to eat, but it just seems like so much food- and he is always going to the refrigerator and making an “eat” sign.
post #13 of 23
Wow! I think that is a lot of really good food! It sounds like you are feeding your children really well and you are putting a lot of effort and love into their nourishment. I have been veggie for 20 years, and if I thought a little bit of organic meat would benefit my babes, I would totally cook it for them (if I could figure out how :LOL ).
I think there is a lot to your feeling that your ds is not a veggie. I also think that if children are going to eat meat, it is important for them to get the highest quality and humanely raised meat in small/moderate amounts. It sounds like you are willing to provide that.
Good luck with your decision. Trust your instinct.
post #14 of 23
That amount of food definitely seems like enough to me. Are you sure he's hungry after all that? I would wonder if he had a problem absorbing nutrients or something. If I were in your situation I would probably see a nutritionist. I can give you the phone number of several registered dieticians who are vegetarian/vegan. PM me if you want them and I will hook you up.

Homemademama: Just an fyi, cheese, milk, dairy, eggs, and meat contain no fiber at all. Yeah, they contain some vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, but it's ixnay on the iberfay.
post #15 of 23
Yeah, that DOES seem like a huge amount of food for a toddler!

I have a vegetarian friend (with non veggie DH and inlaws) and when the inlaws come to visit, she buys cold cuts or other precooked meats so she doesn't have to actually cook them herself.

Could you buy precooked organic meat for your toddler?
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by homemademomma
okay, that is simply NOT true. i am vegetarian, dh is vegan, and ds is vegetarian, fwiw, but the truth is that organic meat is GOOD for you, and has all the basic vits & minerals, and also lots of fiber.
Animal products do not contain any fiber. Go to a site like www.fitday.com and you can check out the nutritional content of various foods. Meats are high in minerals and some vitamins, but low in others (A, C, D, E, folate, etc.).
post #17 of 23
I don't think meat is going to solve this..I would think oils would be enough. It's protein that might be an issue, not lack of meat. A lot of kids excl nurse at that age. if he were older, I would be more likely to think he *might* need meat. But not at 14 mos. given how few teeth some 14 mos olds have.

Is he eating constantly? Like needs to eat all day long? Maybe there is something else going one, because that does seem like a huge amount of food for a 14 mos old nursling.

I agree that seeing nutritionist might help. In the meal while, give him a TBLS of Cod liver oil in his smoothie. You can get orange flavor.

Maybe a couple of eggs...
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well he does seem to have a lot of teeth- he just got the last of his 1 yr. molars this week. He has a well check scheduled in about a month. I think I will continue to try to add fat and protein in whatever ways we can and see what happens. Maybe it is just a growth spurt, but it seems to be going on for over two months now. Our pediatrician- whom I already have some issues with- didn’t seem to take my concerns too seriously before. Perhaps the hunger is a sign that something is wrong- either he is not absorbing the food properly, or there is some imbalance. Writing down how much he eats really makes it seem like a lot of food- even more so than seeing him eat it. I think we should keep a diary and see if we can figure anything out. At the very least, it should be useful information for a doctor or nutritionist.

I don’t think giving him a small amount of humanely raised, organic meat would be the end of the world. I’m definitely of two minds about it though- and finding it very difficult to make a decision that I feel good about. Thank you all so much for your insights on this.
post #19 of 23
FWIW, my kids eat an enormous amount of food, as do most of the veggie kids I know. Doesn't bother me that they eat a lot.
post #20 of 23
I don't think giving him organic meat will be the end of the world, either. You can try it and see if it helps.

My first 3 children were vegetarian for the first few years of their lives. They were very healthy. Not big eaters, but certainly health was not an issue.
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