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AIBU?

to be proud yet really annoyed with DS becoming a vegetarian

91 replies

Lois345 · 14/06/2023 11:09

My DS (age nearly 5) decided some months ago that he doesn't want to eat animals and he wants to be a vegetarian. I thought it would last three days, but four months later he is sticking to his guns (no one else in the family is a vegetarian although we do not eat a lot of meat). I am proud of him for making up his own mind, however, here is the problem: ds doesn't like vegetables. He eat peas and that is about it. I can camouflage vegetable in tomato sauce for pasta and I found a mac and cheese recipe which includes quite a bit of veg. I try new things (sweet and sour fake chicken yesterday), but generally with no luck at all.
Basically, I have about 3 recipes that he will eat and it is driving me bonkers to cook the same thing over and over again. It is also really difficult to take him out among friends as he basically will not eat what is being served.

Any thoughts, suggestions, experiences (does it get better?) are really welcome and very much appreciated. Also, any good recipes that you can recommend?

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MissTrip82 · 14/06/2023 11:12

I went vego as a teen and had to see a dietician - that was my parents’ condition. Because they ate a very traditional working class British diet and were really unsure what I would eat.

Whether he ate meat or not the lack of vegies would be an issue. Probably worth seeking some professional guidance if you can.

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strawberryjeans · 14/06/2023 11:19

Hello, I’ve been veggie since his age exactly after a trip to a farm and learning about where meat came from and turned vegan as a late teenager. Still vegan today. Please support him like you are doing. I was so lucky my family were supportive. Vegetarians don’t need to just eat vegetables. And really, him eating meat or not has no effect whatsoever on his veggie intake!

Blending veg in sauce is a great idea. However the fact is most kids and some adults just don’t like a lot of vegetables so he’s not unusual for that. Will he have baked beans? Peas? Tomatoes in sauce also count. What about chickpeas and kidney beans, they count, so do lentils. Chickpea curry is a great one to make and you could put very tiny bits of spinach in that - spinach is of course pretty tasteless but the nutrition and iron in it is amazing!
Does he like fruit?

Supplement with B12, iodine and iron if you can. A good multivitamin should have them all in. He sounds like a great little person who knows his mind!

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APurpleSquirrel · 14/06/2023 11:20

Have you explained to him that being vegetarian means eating vegetables & fruit?
I know he's 5 (my DS is 5 too); but if he's made this decision & stuck to it I think you need to have a conversation saying he needs to start eating other things/vegetables etc. Get him involved choosing some from the supermarket & prepping them.
Maybe have a day each week which is try something new day? We do this on Thursday's - some have been abject failures, others have been successful.
There are ways of adding vegetables surreptitiously, but tbh if he wants to be a vegetarian he's got to start eating a more varied diet - harder said than done at 5 though.

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CaptainMyCaptain · 14/06/2023 11:23

Can you batch cook his favourites and freeze portions so you can just heat it up rather than cook sepsrately? Meanwhile keep trying to vary his diet and talk to him about the role of vegetables for health. If he will eat fruit or drink fruit juices that will help meet his dietary requirements.

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NoSquirrels · 14/06/2023 11:23

What does he like in the way of protein - eggs, cheese?

Egg-fried rice with peas and other chopped small veg is a good one for fussy kids, I find. Does he like sweetcorn?

Pizza, quesadillas or wraps, omelettes/quiche, puff pastry tarts, jacket potato cheese & beans (sweet potato is a good change), these are all quick.

I have one pescatarian DC and that’s not a problem as fish finger sandwiches are an excellent all-round family meal instead of a burger in a bun! Would he eat any fish?

We try to make most meals mostly veggie, with added meat for those who want it so basically think any pasta dish = veggie, add meat separately. Soup = veggie (lentils make everything great). Curry = veggie, add meat separately etc.

Will he eat lentils or pulses? Hummus, daal, lentil bolognese etc?

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NoSquirrels · 14/06/2023 11:26

spinach is of course pretty tasteless but the nutrition and iron in it is amazing!

Great - and undetectable - in a smoothie!

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SunnySaturdayMorning · 14/06/2023 11:28

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Angelofthenortheast · 14/06/2023 11:29

Was his diet just meat and peas before this? Tbh there's no nutrients in meat that he could get from veg anyway, so give him a multivitamin while you work on persuading him to eat veg.

In the meantime...carbs, quorn and dairy!

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NoSquirrels · 14/06/2023 11:30

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I know this is goady but honestly, sometimes I do despair.

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Yoyoyoyoyoyoyoyo · 14/06/2023 11:34

Surely he would need to eat a variety of veg even if he was eating meat?

Try giving him the same as you, but replace the meat with tofu, beans, eggs, lentils or quorn etc

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hattyhathat · 14/06/2023 11:36

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Ha! What?

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hattyhathat · 14/06/2023 11:36

What did he eat before he went veggie. Try the same food but with veggie sausages or something?

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WandaWonder · 14/06/2023 11:40

If a well balanced diet sure great, defeats the purpose for me if you have to fill up on supplements to balance it out

If our bodies are designed to not eat meat then we don't need supplements

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Totorosfluffytummy · 14/06/2023 11:40

My daughter ate a lot of egg based dishes when she was first vegetarian. Quiches & omlettes are very easy and you can add different vegetables in to try.

Bean Quesadillas
Chickpea burgers
Veggie Fritters
Falafels with salad or in a wrap with hummus
Lots of Indian dishes are vegetarian and can be made very mild spice wise

This book is great: Vegetarian Food for Healthy Kids by Nicola Graimes.

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CindersAgain · 14/06/2023 11:43

What did he eat before? I’d try and find a veggie alternative.

My DD is older but when I cba to cook her something fancy she gets beans and baked potato, scrambled egg on toast or fried egg with ready made merchant gourmet grains. She does eat the veg we eat too.

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HanarCantWearSweaters · 14/06/2023 11:49

For fussy eaters I’ve always gone for visible and invisible veggies on the plate - invisible keep the nutrients up while visible ones they don’t have to try but they need to see them every day to keep that association going. Invisible veggies I blend into sauces as you’re doing, it’s amazing how many you can pack in. Puréed cauliflower or swede in cheese or any white sauce, orange/sweet potato/pumpkin/red and orange pepper/tomatoes in any kind of curry sauce or pasta sauce, courgettes and aubergines grated into veggie meatballs etc. if he likes potato and cheese you could do a potato or paneer curry with a packed veggie sauce. Beetroot chocolate muffins etc. He’ll get there!

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Avondale89 · 14/06/2023 11:54

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Care to elaborate?

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Namechangedagain20 · 14/06/2023 11:56

Have you tried baby cucumbers and sweet peppers? My DD2 is fussy with veg but likes those, I think because they’re kid sized.

Does he eat much fruit? My sisters veggie and doesn’t really like veg but she eats a lot of fruit and does it salad stuff, so it’s not really a problem for her. Could you try making a puff pastry/wrap pizza and putting veggies in the sauce, letting him put toppings on? He might eat more that way. Or a cheese and onion version.

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maxelly · 14/06/2023 11:58

I think it's important to recognise he's 5, plenty of kids vegetarian or not eat very bland, repetitive meals such as pasta in sauce over and over. Lots refuse most fruit and veg, it's good he eats peas and tomato sauce, some won't even have that. They tend (SNs etc aside) to grow out of it and gradually expand their range as they grow and mature. I hear you, it's really boring and frustrating but he'll likely manage just fine being quite limited in diet for a few years. My tactic at this age was to serve exclusively 'safe' foods for breakfast and lunch even if this meant very repetitive meals then gradually try and introduce new things alongside 'safe' foods at dinners, it resulted in some weird combinations like plain white sliced bread and cucumber for my middle child with every single meal, regardless, e.g. bread and butter and cucumber with curry, bread and butter and cucumber with Bolognese sauce etc, and sometimes all he had was the bread and butter but honestly, although those years felt endless at the time in hindsight they were over quickly and it did him no harm as a result, the more I stressed and argued, pleaded etc the worse it got. I'd just feed him what he'll eat for now so long as he's healthy and doing well on it and worry about whether the vegetarianism and/or the limited diet will stick long term further down the line.

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RoseLarkin · 14/06/2023 11:59

My children eat mostly vegetarian meals at home (I don't eat meat so prefer cooking veggie, although they do eat meat elsewhere & DH eats meat), and neither of them are big vegetable eaters, I give them a daily vitamin and always serve some form of veg in the hope that one day they will eat it!

But I tend do do a lot of old school family meals with substitutes for the meat - they love shepherd's pie made with lentils instead of mince, likewise spaghetti Bolognese or Lasagne I'll use either lentils or meat free mince, they also like egg fried rice, "chicken" curry made with Quorn, meatless meatballs with hidden veg sauce, and not a meal but Linda McCartney vegetarian sausage rolls are a huge hit with my kids.

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June628 · 14/06/2023 11:59

My DS is vegetarian (3) - just keep offering things and eventually one day he will surprise you and try things/ even like them! My DS hated mushrooms for a period now loves them. You’ve had some great ideas of how you can hide veggies in sauces. Not liking vegetables is irrelevant really, even if he was eating meat he would still presumably eat vegetables alongside that. Make sure he’s getting sources of protein and don’t get hung up on the vegetarian side of it. He’s being fussy like any child can be, whether they ate meat or not.

It’s great that you’re supporting him and what a wonderful little boy for making his own mind up about it. You should be very proud of him!

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EbonyRaven · 14/06/2023 12:07

I wouldn't be very happy with my 5 year old going vegetarian. I think that's far too young to make a lifestyle choice like that. That's just my opinion. How bizarre that one so young made that choice. I'm not sure I would like it. But also I'm not really sure what I would do about it/how I'd deal with it. Some 5 year olds are pretty determined with a strong mind when they want to be. Even so, deciding to become veggie at 5 is very odd IMO.

You say your son doesn't like vegetables @Lois345 so he is limiting himself to what he can eat. Sounds like a fad (to me) that he has picked up from someone. He should be talked out of this idea, as he definitely won't be eating healthy. He is too young to know his own mind, and I can't see a valid reason to be 'proud' of him for doing this.

My daughter now in her mid 20s, has been a vegan for 7 years, and she says she is going to raise her kids (when she has them) as vegans. Now THAT I am not going to be fucking impressed with at ALL, although I have said nothing thus far. If she DOES go ahead with it, I will be persuading her to not do it. Raising your child (from birth) as a vegan is not good parenting IMO.

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Lois345 · 14/06/2023 12:08

Thanks so much for all your wonderful suggestions and encouragement! It is really very much appreciated. There are some great suggestions for recipes in your comments and I really appreciate the encouragement from those of you who have been through similar experiences. Thankfully DS loves fruit, so we do try to make sure that he gets a bit of fruit with or after his main meals. Good point about the multivitamin. I will stock up today.

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Lois345 · 14/06/2023 12:15

@EbonyRaven with your child being quite a bit older, I think you have forgotten how headstrong 4/5 year olds are. My DS found out that the animals we eat are generally young and did not die by themselves and then decided that he did not want to eat animals. I am profoundly proud of his care for animals, his kindness, his empathy, and his ability to make up his own mind. If he sticks with these abilities, I think he will grow up to be a wonderful adult (however, until that happens, I just want to figure out wth to feed him ;-))

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GiraffeLaSophie · 14/06/2023 12:21

EbonyRaven · 14/06/2023 12:07

I wouldn't be very happy with my 5 year old going vegetarian. I think that's far too young to make a lifestyle choice like that. That's just my opinion. How bizarre that one so young made that choice. I'm not sure I would like it. But also I'm not really sure what I would do about it/how I'd deal with it. Some 5 year olds are pretty determined with a strong mind when they want to be. Even so, deciding to become veggie at 5 is very odd IMO.

You say your son doesn't like vegetables @Lois345 so he is limiting himself to what he can eat. Sounds like a fad (to me) that he has picked up from someone. He should be talked out of this idea, as he definitely won't be eating healthy. He is too young to know his own mind, and I can't see a valid reason to be 'proud' of him for doing this.

My daughter now in her mid 20s, has been a vegan for 7 years, and she says she is going to raise her kids (when she has them) as vegans. Now THAT I am not going to be fucking impressed with at ALL, although I have said nothing thus far. If she DOES go ahead with it, I will be persuading her to not do it. Raising your child (from birth) as a vegan is not good parenting IMO.

You don’t understand being proud of your child for deciding that they want to give up things that they (presumably) enjoy in order to prevent animals being killed? That’s what it comes down to, in the end. And it’s not really much of a lifestyle choice, it’s reversible in the time it takes to eat a chicken nugget.

As others have said OP, his reluctance to eat vegetables would be as much of an issue regardless of whether or not he ate meat. Would he like meals that he got to build himself like fajitas? It’s easy to start with quorn/tofu, some cheese and some lettuce (if he’ll eat eat) and gradually build up to more adventurous things.

As someone who stopped eating meat as a child, thank you for supporting him 😊

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