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Speak Up: Raising Kids Vegetarian

Eating a balanced vegetarian diet can be much healthier than a diet that includes meat, since it tends to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. It also includes tons of fruits and veggies, so a vegetarian diet can be full of vitamins and fiber too. As long as a meat-free diet includes plenty of dairy products, whole grains, and beans, getting enough protein should be a cinch.

Many of you have tried being vegetarians at one point in your lives — it was college for me. And some of you have been strict vegetarians for years. My question is, what do you think about raising children on a beef, chicken, and fish-free diet? Kids can be really picky eaters and hot dogs are a common go-to food in the toddler set. So tell me, what do you think about raising kids on a vegetarian diet?

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imcs imcs 8 years
My mom raised us not to be picky eaters b/c when you go to someone's house you have to eat what they give you, and it is so uncomfortable when someone comes to your house and after you've prepared a nice meal to enjoy, they won't eat it b/c they don't eat meat or whatever, it really just limits everyone, and makes the situation uncomfortable for all. In this I'm refering to guests of guests, b/c if I know my friend doesn't eat meat, then I won't cook it, but you really can't make different dishes for all on the table - everyone has their preferences, but it's just good manners to eat what you're given and that's that.
Vaadsfweytes Vaadsfweytes 8 years
Oops, I just realized I made too many spelling mistakes. Anyways, I find it offensive that how 'some' vegetarians are too quick to label meat eaters as almost murderers. It's a choice up to each individuals and should be respected.
Vaadsfweytes Vaadsfweytes 8 years
I love meat, but I don't munch on a big burger everyday. I grew up eating extremely healthy meal. Since I can remember, my mom only purchased organic products, and I've been lucky to have been exposed to so many different types of food from all over the world. Everyone in my family is slim because we never snack on unhealthy, processed food. I don't think non-vegetarians are necessarily unhealthy. Humans haven always eaten meat, and it's all about how clean the ingredients are and how you balance your meal. I absolutely love occasional, tender chunk of filet mignon or a jar of pate with a huge loaf of healthy whole grain bread.
joannabanana88 joannabanana88 8 years
SO funny because today, my boyfriend jokingly said, "I can't marry you since your a vegetarian!" Implying that I wouldn't cook him things with meat (which he loves). But, since I love him, I WOULD make him things with meat! And since it was my decision to become a vegetarian, I would leave it up to my children. People think that being a veg. is such a sacrifice. Based on my personal ideas about being an omnivore, I believe that eating meat is the real sacrifice. Eating something is just as much of a choice as NOT eating something. I would explain to them why I am a vegetarian and encourage it, but I would not force anything
foxie foxie 8 years
"Once you get carnivores into a vegetarian discussion, they become health freaks for some reason. " YES. That's so true.
myystque myystque 8 years
I agree with facin8me. I also hate how once people discuss vegetarianism, they almost always focus on staying healthy. I think obesity and unhealthy diets unrelated to vegetarianism are a much bigger problem (in the US, at least). Once you get carnivores into a vegetarian discussion, they become health freaks for some reason. It's quite annoying. My nephew is being raised as a vegetarian and he's fine.
kristints kristints 8 years
I would teach my children the reasons WHY we don't eat meat. When you explain to a child that something has to lose it's life if you eat it, they probably won't want to. Kids have to be taught about health as well, you read in magazine articles about people losing weight and they say they hid their kid's snacks away from theirs, that's just insane, you're going to feed your children the poison food that made you fat and unhealthy in the first place?
facin8me facin8me 8 years
I wonder how differently these comments would read if the title were "Speak Up: Raising Kids as Carnivores." I doubt anybody would be talking about choices and being "forced" to eat one way or another. Eating meat is the default in this country, and any questioning of that norm seems to inspire scorn.
bsglrok132 bsglrok132 8 years
My husband has been a vegetarian his entire life and I've been one for a few years, so I guess we wouldn't feed our kids any meat but I don't know if we can stop him/her from eating it at school or at a friend's house or something. It'll have to be up to the kid.
mem952 mem952 8 years
my mum has been vegetarian since she was 14 years old and my dad is an omnivore. mum cooked us a really wide range of delicious vegetarian food (she used to work in a vegetarian restaurant) but she never 'preached' at us about meat or tried to sway us in any way. we understood that her diet was her personal choice but we benefitted from her love of vegetarian food as we were exposed to lots of things like tofu, nut-meat, lentil-burgers which our school friends had never tried. we were also fed meat dishes. i'm glad we were raised like this because we never felt left out at school on hot dog day or a school BBQs. the only time we were full time vegetarian was in Lent every year. I'm really glad we were given this much education and experience in different diets.
DevonJade DevonJade 8 years
"the shickens don't wike to be kiweld" haha crayolsky that is adorable! I never could make myself eat lamb or sheep once I figured out what it was even though I was omnivorous as a child. I loved gyros but I always felt like a murderer so I just couldn't do it! Nowadays I am more than content with pita and cucumber sauce, mmm. :D
DevonJade DevonJade 8 years
I am vegetarian but I would raise a child to eat some meat until they were old enought to make the choice for themselves. I would make sure that it was organic though, and the animals were treated humanely up through their demise. I would go with a local farm so I could verify everything for myself. The hormones in meat and the way some animals are treated horrify me. So what I am trying to say is -yes I would feed my child meat even though I am vegetarian, but I would be extremely careful what I fed them and where it came from. If they chose to become vegetarian or vegan I would fully support that choice.
foxie foxie 8 years
To say "it's wrong to force your kids to be on a vegetarian diet" to me sounds like "it's wrong to force your kids not to hurt others. They should be able to decide for themselves whether they'd like to hurt others." Cruelty is a choice I wouldn't allow my children to make for themselves, whether it be cruelty to other children, or cruelty at dinnertime.
Vaadsfweytes Vaadsfweytes 8 years
That picture is adorable. I don't think parents should ever force kids to become a vegetarian. It's up to them to choose when they turn 18. Humans are omnivores after all, and kids should have balanced, healthy meals. Haven't you heard of vegan parents killing their infant by feeding the poor thing only soy milk?
krae85 krae85 8 years
thanks, snow, I'll check it out. I'd love to raise veggie kids (when I have them) like myself, but I'm still working on my husband for now!
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
Krae- I'm not, but if you look on "Veggie Boards" I think they have a section on raising your child to be a vegetarian. Colleen- I think the difference between raising your child with a vegetarian diet vs. raising them in your religion is that there are actual numbers and studies and articles discussing how bad it is for the environment to eat meat. Also, done healthily, a healthy vegetarian diet has the potential to be healthier than a meat-eating diet. And, there are solid facts to back up how cruel the factory farming industry is. It's not just being morally presumptuous. And I really don't get what else I would feed my kids. I am sure there are plenty of things you won't feed your children, but just because you aren't doing it for "moral" reasons that would be okay?
krae85 krae85 8 years
If, if if. Does anyone actually have kids they are raising on a vegetarian diet? just curious.
Colleeninator Colleeninator 8 years
For some reason, I FEEL that this is wrong, but I have no logical reason why. Logically speaking, I see nothing wrong with raising a child vegetarian SO LONG AS they are getting all the protein they need (along with other nutrients, etc.). But, even though I don't really see anything wrong with not eating me at all, it seems morally presumptuous to decide what a child can and can't eat in that manner in the same way it seems presumptuous to choose a religion for your child. But again, I can't think of anything to say against vegetarianism. Probably because there isn't anything to say against it. I think the reason this bothers me so much is because I once knew a couple where the father ate meat, and the mother didn't. The mother decided to raise the kids vegetarian, while the father would eat things like steak, chicken, etc. in front of them, and she would pick what they would get to eat because so many things have meat in them. It seemed a little cruel. I knew another woman (single mom) who decided to go vegetarian when her kids were something like 5 and 7, and decided that they had to go vegetarian also, after they had already been eating meat. Not cool.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
Spectra- I wasn't a vegetarian in high school but I STILL lived on diet coke and fries...an un-healthy diet is an un-healthy diet, regardless of whether it's vegetarian or not! I think that once my kids are old enough to think about what they're eating, they can choose. When I was five or six I was really curious about where my food came and what I was eating. And I was routinely lied to about the fact that of COURSE nothing had been killed for me to eat it. We were a meat and potatoes kind of family, with "healthy" dose of Hamburger Helper and hot dogs thrown in, and even though I'm a vegetarian now, it was hard to get out of that mindset. But I almost think the default should be vegetarianism regardless of whether or not the parents are vegetarian, so long as the child is getting proper nutrition. I base this on environmental issues, not a holier-than-thou attitude, because if kids were brought up to eat a vegetable-based diet, we could really lessen the impact that our meat-eating has on the environment. Even if the kids started eating meat when they got older because they were having nutrition problems, or just really wanted to, they probably wouldn't eat as much meat as we do now- which is too much both for diet and environmental reasons! It's hard to get adults to change their eating habits, I realize that, but it would be great if we could shape the way future generations eat. Wheew!
margokhal margokhal 8 years
I don't have kids and don't plan on having any anytime soon, but if I did have kids, I'd let them sample *healthy* options of BOTH vegetarian and meat products and let them build their own diets of what they like. If my kid decides that they don't like meat much, then that's fine, they don't have to eat it. I'm not a vegetarian, but I do eat a lot of vegetarian meals and buy mostly vegetarian products. Cooking meat is a hassle for me and it's just quicker without meat [lame reason, I know, but that's me!]. The point is getting kids to eat things that help them grow and thrive on their own. Staying away from greasy, fatty, junky food should be a priority - having meat/vegetarian diet is secondary and a trivial issue to me.
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 8 years
I think it works if the whole family is vegetarian, but otherwise that is just a bunch of additonal meals to be prepared. Also, the parent's have to make sure the kids nutrition is properly met.
CUPCAKEchatter CUPCAKEchatter 8 years
I would raise my kids to be a vegeterian/vegan. This is because I want them to live a healthy lifestyle and not stuff themselves with so much junk like what I did.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
If I had kids, I don't think I'd raise them vegetarian, but I wouldn't feed them processed hotdogs and pizza and crap like that. I'd feed them a well-balanced diet and if they DID decide to become vegetarian when they were older, I'd make sure to educate them thoroughly on what constitutes a healthy vegetarian diet so that they made the best choices. I had too many friends in high school that decided to become "vegetarian" and lived on fries and mac and cheese.
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