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Oh God, DD wants to be a vegetarian...

(45 Posts)
Tryingtobehealthy Fri 26-Jun-09 18:27:32

DD is 5 and has decided she wants to be a vegetarian. We do eat some veggie meals but we eat a lot of fish/meat as well and it will be a pain to cook separate meals for her (as I'm not prepared to switch us all to veggie). My first question - and I know I'm going to get shot down in flames for even asking - would it be really unethical to give her some meat now and again and tell her it's Quorn? blush I want to respect her wishes and I certainly won't force her to eat meat but so much of my stock repertoire has meat in and I can't bear the thought of having to cook separate meals all the time. If she thought she was being a vegetarian would that be enough? SHe's only 5, FFS, can she even understand the concept poroeprly? Is there any way in which lying would be acceptable? <pause> There really isn't, is there?

Secondly, I have no idea how to do this healthily. WTF can I give her to eat in the way of protein? Short of Quorn, egg and cheese, I'm stuck. I'm fairly sure she wouldn't like the texture of tofu. She hates nuts and that would be a pain anyway as some of the rest of the family have to steer clear of nuts. Do you actually need to eat protein at every meal? If you cut out meat do you have to eat more of anything else or can you just eat a normal healthy diet but with veggie protein instead of meat? eg. have I imagined that veggie diets can lack in iron unless you replace with specific vegetables? If I just swap the proteins, will she be healthy enough with her fairly limted repertoire of vegetables?
I'm nervous of doing this wrong!

I'm hoping it's just a phase and that once she realises there is meat in sausages/ham/fishfingers she'll relent, but I'm a bit stumped in the meantime. The rest of her diet is somewhat limited, she's a fairly picky eater.

Sorry, lots of questions there! Very grateful for any advice on how to do this healthily.

sarah293 Fri 26-Jun-09 18:34:06

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SomeGuy Fri 26-Jun-09 18:44:08

Where has she got that idea from?

My sister got anaemia from vegetarianism and she eats all the weird and whacky stuff.

Tell her vegetarians eat fish.

SolidGoldBrass Fri 26-Jun-09 18:46:03

Tell her it's a decision she's too young to make for herself and that she can be a vegetarian when she's 10. That should settle it for the moment (very unlikely at the age of 5 that she will think about it again after the next week anyway.)

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 26-Jun-09 18:49:41

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AMumInScotland Fri 26-Jun-09 18:49:48

If she's still eating dairy and pulses (beans, lentils etc) then there's no reason she'd be short of protein. Iron in meat is more easy to digest I think, but there is plenty in dark green vegetables.

Is she generally a good eater? And would she be prepared to eat things because it's a healthy diet in exchange for giving up meat? If so, I'd probably let her - it's not that hard to do without meat.

As long as she doesn't start realising how much animal fat, gelatine, etc there is in lots of common foods and start refusing them too - my sister did that (in her teens) and found it much more inconvenien.

ilovemydogandmrobama Fri 26-Jun-09 18:52:12

there's lots of iron in: lentils, broccoli, spinach,

meal ideas:

jacket potatoes with cheese/baked beans
risottos
courgette fritters
dhal
frittatas
pasta -- veg sauce/pesto

Ask her if she wants to be a vegetarian because she loves vegetables or because she hates meat...

Who is it that does the massive list of vegetarian meals? Brilliant list.

hatwoman Fri 26-Jun-09 18:56:00

ask her why she wants to be veggie. at 5 I doubt she's really thought it through. if it's animal cruelty then you could consider switching to free-range meat. and reducing the amount you eat as a family (good for everyone - am resolved to do this myself) dd (now 9) has long had such hankerings - but I've fobbed her off persuaded her that free-range meat is ok. I fully expect her to go veggie in her teens - but she'll be old enough then to make her own decision.

sarah293 Fri 26-Jun-09 19:02:57

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Thunderduck Fri 26-Jun-09 19:07:42

Don't pretend it's Quorn, and don't tell her vegetarians eat fish, as someone suggested,that's one of my pet peeves and I'm not even a vegetarian.

Lack of protein will rarely become an issue in this country,beans of all types are a great protein source, and if she's willing to eat dark green vegetables and pulses she should get plenty of iron too.

Really it isn't all that difficult to cook without meat, or to make substitutions.

I'd go along with her wishes.It may be a phase, it may not be, either way she'll be fine. I enjoy meat and fish but they aren't necessary for the majority of people.

Clure Fri 26-Jun-09 19:08:25

cor - thats a tricky one! My DD (4) has been brought up a vegetarian and she has a really healthy and nutritious diet. There are plenty of veggie options and nutrition information out there if you do decide that your DD should turn veggie
[[http://www.vegsoc.org/info/childre1.html here] and here
infor and recipes
good luck

bluebump Fri 26-Jun-09 19:08:31

i agree with Riven, I have been a veggie since birth too and never been anemic.

You can certainly point out that there is gelatine in sweets as mentioned above but that was never enough to get me to eat meat.

Laquitar Fri 26-Jun-09 19:16:58

make sure she has iron-rich snacks ie dried apricots.

piscesmoon Fri 26-Jun-09 19:21:31

I wouldn't lie to her. I would tell her that you will do a lot more vegetarian meals as a family and then she can make up her mind when she is a bit older. You then have the luxury of time to find out all about it and try out recipes and different foods like lentils etc. If she doesn't change her mind you would then be ready to cook separate meals.

SomeGuy Fri 26-Jun-09 19:46:01

'My sister got anaemia from vegetarianism and she eats all the weird and whacky stuff.

Tell her vegetarians eat fish. '

> Why is lying to a child ok?

It is not lying, some self-described vegetarians do eat fish. And a 5-year-old may be quite happy to eat fish, but not cows and chickens.

> My have been veggie from birth and never been aneimic. The anaemic vegetarian is a bit of a myth.

Well no it's not, because my sister got it, and she's always going off foraging for nettles and doing things with nuts and generally trying to eat well. Not sure if she eats that food stuff of the devil, Quorn, though.

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 26-Jun-09 19:50:05

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Thunderduck Fri 26-Jun-09 19:56:51

I wouldn't worry too much about her becoming anaemic. My mother eats meat,including a fair amount of red meat and is anaemic. It isn't exclusive to vegetarians.

And a self described vegetarian who eats fish is not a vegetarian, even if they refer to themselves as such.

iwouldgoouttonight Fri 26-Jun-09 20:03:50

I wanted to become vegetarian from around that age, possibly a bit older, but my mum still made me meals with meat in. I came up with all kinds of clever ways of hiding the meat so she thought I'd eaten it but really it was behind the sofa/down the toilet/thrown out of the window! I think I was about 12 when she realised I was serious and didn't try to make me eat it any more (and by then I could obviously help cook my own meals too).

I remember having quite a simplistic view - I like looking at and stroking cows so why would I want to eat one.

Its a tricky one, like you say you don't want to cook two different meals, but it might not be too difficult to substitute meat in some meals, e.g. she has veggie sausages when you have meat ones, etc. From my experience I would try to cook veggie meals for her so you know she is getting enough iron, etc otherwise she might find sneaky ways to leave the meat (like I did!) and might miss out on some nutrients.

Things like nuts, lentils, chick peas, leafy green veg, cheese, eggs, wholemeal bread, cereals, beans, quorn, all have iron/protein in so maybe its worth looking up a few recipes with some of them in to see if she actually likes them. I know its difficult to know what to make when you're used to cooking with meat/fish. As I've been veggie for years I find it easy to know what to make but would struggle if I suddenly had to make a meat dish!

iwouldgoouttonight Fri 26-Jun-09 20:08:14

And yes the anaemic thing, my mum has always been anaemic too and eats loads of meat, and I'm anaemic now just because I lost a lot of blood having DD but never was before and I've been vegetarian for over 20 years. As long as her diet is fairly balanced I don't think you need to worry. My DS is 2 and we've brought him up veggie and he's fine.

alexw Fri 26-Jun-09 20:17:48

you could just do what my mum did with my sister which is to prepare meal as usual and then just remove meat from the plate. Her attempt lasted about 9 days! shock

kif Fri 26-Jun-09 20:23:44

I was anaemic most of my teens. I have always been very carnivorous.

In a young girl anaemia is more likely to be caused by heavy periods than vegetarianism.

Regarding protein, stock up on tinned pulses. Kidney beans, kidney beans in light chilli sauce, sweetcorn.

deadflesh Fri 26-Jun-09 20:27:22

My ds was 5 when he decided to be vegetarian. He had really thought about it and was quite clear in his reasons. He just didn't think it was right or fair for him to eat animals. I was very proud of him for sticking up for animals even though dh and me still ate meat

Ds even wrote to the queen about it and received a reply.

Now, thanks to him, dh is vegetarian too and I am vegan. We would never have believed it six months ago.

We eat better than we ever have. So much more variety and taste.

Try cooking a few more vegetarian family meals yourself, with simple baked potatoes or pasta for dd on your meat days, and you may be pleasantly surprised by how little you miss meat.

plantsitter Fri 26-Jun-09 20:29:31

I became vegetarian at 7 and my mum said she'd allow it if I ate fish (I hated pulses and so on).

I suppose technically that made me pescatarian but I was more bothered about animal cruelty than titles - I believed at that time that fish at least got to swim about, free, in the sea. Obviously this is nonsense but hey ho.

I'm really grateful to my mum for making the effort and respecting my opinions. I'm still vegetarian now.

popsycal Fri 26-Jun-09 20:31:18

ds1 decided this last year around this time aged 5. He has pretty much kept it up although occasionally chooses to eat meat which is fine - no one else is a veggie.

He is still pretty commited to it a year on aged almost 7. And he did, at 5, understand the concept. Kids are bright

popsycal Fri 26-Jun-09 20:31:56

oh he eats fish (tuna, salmon, etc) and very occasionally will eat chicken but it is on his terms.

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