Josh who is now 6 has been a vegetarian all of his life. He is now becoming more aware and exposed to other options at school and at friend’s house which I do not limit him from experiencing but in our house, we are meat free.
Here are my 5 steps for raising a little vegetarian:
1. Educate yourself
There are a lot of myths about being a vegetarian and how healthy it is as a lifestyle. Educate yourself on the important information in terms of protein, calcium and micro nutrients. Start here with the 12 Frequently asked questions about being a vegetarian.
2. Get recipe ideas
There are sooooo many recipe books out there with vegetarian ideas for kids. When I first became pregnant, I went out and bought 3 or 4 which was enough for me to put together the 10-14 dishes we eat on a regular basis. My favourite is Great Healthy Food for Vegetarian Kids by Nicola Graimes. It really is just about finding 10 key meals that you prepare and rotating them. There are also just so many online recipe sources that really you could get lost in. The point here to find ones you like and remember kids will happily eat the same thing 5 days in a row!
3. Have back up plans
We all have busy days and bad days. Be sure to have 1 or 2 easy dishes you can pull out of the bag on the day when things don’t go to plan. For me, it’s pasta dishes which I can cook in 10 minutes, lentil or potato and leek soup or a meat substitute like veggie sausages for veggie hot dogs.
4. Get those Omegas and B12
There are ways for kid to grow up strong and lean and healthy- without meat. If you are still eating dairy products and eggs, then you really should be covered in terms of your Omega 3 & 6 and B12. Alternatively, Rice milk and Soy milks are often fortified with Vitamin B12 and Calcium and of course Flaxseed can be added easily to smoothies to take care of Omega for healthy brains.
5. Have Fun
The biggest thing about anything to do with your kids, is to have fun. Remember, there will be goods day and bad, you can’t control everything and if you are being too strict and stressed out, the health benefits that you might have gained may just get cancelled out! So, plan as much as you can but be flexible and have fun. Being healthy and being happy and very closely related!