Moms of vegetarian kids: a question - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not talking about kids who are raised vegetarian, but about kids who at some point decide they're not going to eat animals.

How did it start with your kids?

I'm guessing it's just a part of her general tendency right now to want to know how things work, but dd1 seems to have caught on to the fact that when you eat meat, you're eating cows, pigs, chickens, etc. Other living creatures, in other words. She's asking lots of questions, and I'm starting to wonder where it's going.

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#2 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 02:17 PM
 
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My younger sister has never eaten meat. For her it started more as a general distaste for things like hotdogs and hamburgers-she would consistently refuse. My Mom just stopped offering and let her lead the way and that way never included meat. Then she did seem to quickly make a connection between bacon and Wilbur and that sealed the deal.

She is 20 now and has never been anything but a vegetarian. Although our Dad says she is the only vegetarian he knows who doesn't actually eat any vegetables. A bit of an exaggeration.
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#3 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 02:52 PM
 
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Well, we're raising dd veggie, but I became a vegetarian when I was about 10. My mom was pretty controlling about food and I really just didn't like much meat. The only way I could get out of eating the things I didn't like was to become a vegetarian (not that my parents liked it, but it was easier than refusing foods on a case by case basis). I think it's really important for parents to let their kids have some say in what they eat and not make it into a bigger issue than it is.
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#4 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 02:54 PM
 
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DD decided to be vegetarian when she was about 11 y.o. Part of it was a concern about animals, part of it was a concern for an environment. She also met a few vegetarian children - not close friends, but families we knew, so I think it seemed more do-able.

It lasted for about 6 or 8 months. I supported the concept, although I made it clear that she had to eat a balanced diet. She doesn't really like lentils or beans and I avoided the fake meat and seafood. I think she tired of a fairly limited diet, despite my best efforts to offer a variety of meals. BTW, I'm NOT saying that you can't have varied, delicious vegetarian diet - of course, you can. I'm saying that dd, due to her own food preferences (*picky eating*), found it limiting. She also really wanted a juicy burger one day!!

Recently she told me she would like to eat vegetarian on alternative weeks. She still has concerns about animals and the environment. She's now almost 14, and I wouldn't be surprised if she eventually becomes 100% vegetarian again.
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#5 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 03:03 PM
 
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DD is "mostly" vegetarian. She has had time periods w/no meats (though she has never been vegan), right now she occasionally eats chicken nuggest. For her, I think it is more of a texture issue than taste (since she has had onion soup made w/beef broth and liked the taste and has had both rice & pasta prepared in chicken broth and liked the taste).

That said, she knew from a very young age that animals are killed for people to eat. At different times that bothered her more or less. She has been naturally respectful of other's feelings about it though. She is now 11 and at least half of her class is vegetarian for ethical or religious reasons, though, so it is definately not a non-mainstream thing to do. In fact, DS got his feelings really hurt by a classmate when they found out he was eating a roast BEEF sandwich. DS has also always known that when you eat meat you are eating food (he has even been to the farms and seen the future meat) but it has just never bothered him.

 

 

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#6 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by July09Mama View Post
I think it's really important for parents to let their kids have some say in what they eat and not make it into a bigger issue than it is.
Oh, I completely agree!

I suppose what I should/could have said in the OP is that it wouldn't be that big a deal for dh and I. Dh was vegetarian when we married and I wasn't. He chose to go back to eating some meat when dd1 was born, but in the time before that we had sort of mixed eating, mostly vegetarian at home. I'd probably do something similar if she expressed a strong desire to go meatless, and I wouldn't be surprised if dh joined her.

I will say that dd is a little picky at the moment, though fortunately her likes extend across all the food groups.

So far--in the responses to this highly UNscientific survey! --it seems that the kids who have made the choice have been a little older. Dd is 5.

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#7 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 04:39 PM
 
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My daughter is only 21 months old and she refuses to eat meat. I cook with stuff like chicken broth so she isn't truly vegetarian. I wouldn't be surprised if it continues and if at some point she specifically requests I will switch to truly vegetarian food prep for her. I think that everyone should get to decide about meat for him/herself.

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#8 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 05:46 PM
 
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I stopped eating meat (but continued to eat dairy and eggs) when I was 14, and kept it up until I was about 20. I started eating meat again when I was backpacking in Europe, because being on my feet all the livelong day made me HUNGRY, and meat seemed like the only thing that would satisfy the hunger. In retrospect, I think I was probably putting on a ton of muscle, and needed protein badly.

I was not a good vegetarian, though. In high school I mostly lived on french fries and pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches. My mom never discouraged my vegetarianism, but didn't change the way she cooked either, so if I wanted different foods I had to make them myself.

My motivation, as I recall, was not ethical at all. I learned about that stuff later, and that reinforced my decision. But at the time, I'd gotten in with a group of friends and it was very trendy to be vegetarian, in that particular group.

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#9 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 06:01 PM
 
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I became vegetarian when I was 11 and I still am at 36. For me it started much earlier when I began to make the connection between meat and animals. Then my best friend at school was vegan so I suppose I got the idea from her. I never really like red meat and fish much though. For me it was an animal rights thing at first and is now so ingrained in me that I can't imagine ever eating meat again. I am blood type A though which is the 'vegan' diet if you subscribe to that theory so maybe that is why it came so naturally to me.

ETA: my son is nearly 3 and I am bringing him up vegetarian until he is old enough to understand what meat is. At that point, if he wants to eat it he can (so maybe 5 or 6?)
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#10 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 06:17 PM
 
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I decided to be veg when I was 10. It was mostly b/c so many of my friends at my school (Waldorf) were veg.

I stayed vegetarian for maybe a year.

The thing I look back on now is that my parents knew nothing about it, so (for example) they'd give me my potatoes and salad and I'd be lacking a protein. They didn't substitute for a vegetarian one...just kept the meat to themselves. Not very sustaining for me! Maybe that was their point? Lol.

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#11 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 06:27 PM
 
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All my children went through that phase of making the connection between animals and meat. we live down wind from a meat packing plant and see hundreds of trucks taking hogs to meet their final destination. Just because they were organizing all that in their heads doesn't mean they wanted meat any less.

we are vegans at home now. my middle child is the least likely to eat meat. it is not a descision I am willing to make for them (although I don't buy meat or cook it).

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#12 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 06:55 PM
 
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I stopped eating meat (but continued to eat dairy and eggs) when I was 14, and kept it up until I was about 20. I started eating meat again when I was backpacking in Europe, because being on my feet all the livelong day made me HUNGRY, and meat seemed like the only thing that would satisfy the hunger. In retrospect, I think I was probably putting on a ton of muscle, and needed protein badly.

I was not a good vegetarian, though. In high school I mostly lived on french fries and pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches. My mom never discouraged my vegetarianism, but didn't change the way she cooked either, so if I wanted different foods I had to make them myself.

My motivation, as I recall, was not ethical at all. I learned about that stuff later, and that reinforced my decision. But at the time, I'd gotten in with a group of friends and it was very trendy to be vegetarian, in that particular group.
This was me in elementary and middle school. My dad told me when I was 6 that I was eating Bambi So I stopped eating meat, but I did not eat anything different to replace the meat. My mom did not change what she cooked or what was available for me to prepare for myself. I feel that if my parents were more supportive I would still be a vegetarian, but I can not handle the change right now.

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#13 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 07:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When I was dd's age, we were raising our own meat--lamb primarily--so there was never any doubt in my mind where it came from.

Protein - dh and I went around on this one. I was of the opinion that he ate far too much starch and not enough vegetables and protein. He (half seriously) considers salsa to be a vegetable and ate nuts and some beans. And veggie burgers. So early in our marriage, I was the one seasoning and baking tofu and making barbequed (vegan) tempeh, finding new ways of cooking or seasoning a wide variety of vegetables, and all that, and while he cheerfully tried everything, in retrospect, it was probably not that necessary to him, only to me, since I was the one making the biggest alteration to my diet (I never gave up meat, but we were pretty much vegetarian at home).

Which is to say that if down the road, we wind up eating a lot less meat again (some of us none at all), it will be a lifestyle choice thoroughly supported by she who cooks. Which would be me. And my two picky eaters would probably still be really happy to eat nothing but cheese sandwiches, chips, and salsa. Oh, and raw vegetables for dd and salad for dh.

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#14 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 08:08 PM
 
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I became a vegetarian around 4yo. I found out what meat was and it was simple logic not to eat it. I really think that it takes a lot of socialization and rationalization for any child to accept the concept of animals as food, especially when you add the fact that it is quite unhealthy to eat meat tobegin with.

My parents were not vegetarians and continued to offer meat for a while until it was clear that in my eyes they were nothing but hypocritical liers (I often replied to lectures about morality by asking why I should take advice from someone who murders animals and eats their dead bodies. i also made my mother quit smoking that way...).

My mother is just now becoming a vegetarian though. I"m surprised it took that long to convince her.

so, I guess my advice is to recognize when your child has a good point.

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#15 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 09:20 PM
 
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Ok, please be gentle with me with this question. What do y'all do for protein for the kiddo?

I give my daughter a lot of nuts (nut butters and plain nuts), eggs, beans, and dairy. She has two or three servings of protein a day and she seems to be pretty healthy. I feel like this is doing ok for her. Is it actually important at all to be giving her anything like tofu? I have trouble with the texture in almost any preparation I have ever had so I really can't see me getting into the habit of cooking it...

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#16 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 09:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What's interesting to me about this thread is the extent to which it is adults relating the experiences they had as children versus parents who have experienced a child deciding not to eat meat. Maybe 50/50?

I don't quite agree with your point about socialization and rationalization, soso-lynn. I do agree with you that other people's opinions and choices should be respected.

I doubt the tofu is important, rightkindofme....when I was cooking vegetarian meals for dh, a lot of what I did really was, in retrospect, more about adding variety to the diet.

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#17 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 09:46 PM
 
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My son was a vegetarian for two years starting in kindergarten. He wanted to help animals and his kindergarten teacher suggested he could be a vegetarian. He is allergic to eggs and doesn't like nuts much so he mainly ate variations of cheese and starch. I did some of the meat replacement products but didn't like giving him all that soy. Eventually he wanted meat too much and ate a whole order of chicken satay at a Thai restaurant.

He just recently started talking about it again (he is 13). I told him he would have to read a book about being a vegetarian and eating a balanced diet before he could stop eating meat.

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#18 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 11:13 PM
 
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Ok, please be gentle with me with this question. What do y'all do for protein for the kiddo?

I give my daughter a lot of nuts (nut butters and plain nuts), eggs, beans, and dairy. She has two or three servings of protein a day and she seems to be pretty healthy. I feel like this is doing ok for her. Is it actually important at all to be giving her anything like tofu? I have trouble with the texture in almost any preparation I have ever had so I really can't see me getting into the habit of cooking it...

I was a vegetarian for 13 years before I got over my tofu-phobia. It's one of those foods that is awesome once you have the knack of cooking it, but can be really yucky if you don't do it right.

Plenty of vegans don't eat soyfoods at all. My daughter likes tofu, but if you guys don't, don't sweat it.
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#19 of 27 Old 03-16-2010, 01:02 AM
 
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So far--in the responses to this highly UNscientific survey! --it seems that the kids who have made the choice have been a little older. Dd is 5.
Also highly unscientific, but I have known several children who did not eat meat until they were "older" --- 4-5. When you look at a standard American diet and realize how over loaded kids, especially, are with protien it shouldn't seem surprising I guess.

 

 

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#20 of 27 Old 03-16-2010, 09:48 PM
 
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we do almost no soy/tofu here. even when I do fix it the kids are very hesitant to eat it. So you do not need tofu in your diet.,

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#21 of 27 Old 04-19-2010, 04:12 PM
 
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My friend's DD became a vegetarian at age 4 after spending a weekend on a farm and swimming in a giant pond with a bunch of fish. She made the connection that fish are, well, fish, and started asking about other animals and what meat they become. All on her own, she stopped eating meat once she connected that meat used to be animals.
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#22 of 27 Old 04-27-2010, 01:24 AM
 
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My son is 3 and (almost always) chooses not to eat meat when it is available to him, but I am a vegan and prepare only vegan/vegetarian things for him so it's not as big of a stretch for him probably. He's very outspoken about the ethical issues of eating animals, though.

ETA: Regarding protein, tofu/soy is definitely not necessary. Beans, nuts/seeds, and whole grains more than fill our quota.
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#23 of 27 Old 05-02-2010, 02:39 PM
 
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I hated eating meat when I was a toddler, it had to be hidden in other food where I couldn't identify it - I managed until I was 11 before I refused to eat it any more and became veggie. My best friend was vegan and I thought the ethics made sense - I don't think I ever really made the connection about animals = meat like some of the others in this thread!

(And I agree about the tofu phobia, I've been veggie 15 years and only recently started to like tofu!)
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#24 of 27 Old 05-06-2010, 03:45 PM
 
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We're south asians, and quite a bit of the indian/hindu population is veggie, and tofu is def not a staple! Your fine without it, esp if she's still doing dairy.

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#25 of 27 Old 05-07-2010, 12:03 AM
 
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I am not a vegetarian, but my sister is - she became a vegetarian in the 4th grade after going to the farm and feeding the lambs. Later that night, my grandmother served lamb for dinner and my brother started baaaing at the table. She is 37 now.

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#26 of 27 Old 05-07-2010, 02:41 PM
 
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My daughter is soon to be 9 and has decided over the past 2 wks that she wants to be vegetarian. I don't eat meat, and recently her stepdad decided to join me. She also made the meat=animals connection, and doesn't want any part of it. I am so lucky that she is not at all a picky eater!

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#27 of 27 Old 05-08-2010, 06:13 PM
 
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Honestly, we need less protein than people seem to realize. Don't get me wrong, protein is important. I recently started tracking my diet on a mainstream website geared for athletes. They're supposed to get even more protein than average folks. And I've found that I'm almost always at or near my protein goal with literally NO thought about "have I had enough protein today?" It seems (at least in my experience) that when I focus on having a all-around healthy diet, the protein falls into place without effort. HTH!

ETA: Oh yeah, I thought I should add that I'm a vegetarian, not a vegan. But I don't really care for cheese, so I'd say that the only animal source of protein I get on a daily basis is the milk in my cereal. Just wanted to clarify!
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