Read this tip to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Veggie Kids and other Vegetarian topics.
I recently had Kennedi ask me, "I'm 11 and I'd like to become a vegetarian. How would I explain that to my parents so they'd let me?"
A lot of children and teens are facing this concern. Mom and Dad, if your child comes to you and expresses a desire to give up meat--don't freak out! Here's what you do:
1. Remember that meat contains dangerous growth hormones, antibiotics, and diseases that are far more toxic for them than for you. Plus, in the US, we eat TOO MUCH meat. In other countries people are dying of "not enough." We are dying of "too much."
2. Read and research what a healthy vegetarian diet looks like. It's not about buying fake meat and eating protein bars; it's about learning to combine proteins and get other important nutrients like Omega-3s, vitamin B12, etc.
3. Don't forget that MILLIONS of children around the world (and here in the US) are meat-free. Hindus, Seventh Day Adventists, some Buddhists, and Jainists are all vegetarian. And their kids are growing up just fine!
4. Being vegetarian is a learning experience--socially and personally. Let a vegetarian diet be a tool of empowerment and self-knowledge for your child. Kids never want to be "outside" the peer group, so when they consciously decide to break-free, be supportive and proud.
5. I personally stopped eating meat in 7th grade. I went on to become a two-time NCAA All-American athlete and graduated high school with 7 YEARS perfect attendance. (I never got sick!)
6. There are a number of books for vegetarian children--pick one up. My own Life Tips book includes a section on raising vegetarian children and will give you all the nutrition information you need.
In the great words of GoVeg.com: "Meat: Not Suitable for Children." Be open-minded Mom and Dad!
Choosing vegetarianism affirms many positive values -- environmentalism, compassion for animals, respect for life, and healthy living. Support your children's choices by selecting veg-friendly literature. For book reviews, visit vegbooks.org.