Child Turned Vegetarian

Dear Sara,

My fifteen year old daughter has decided she wants to be a vegetarian. She feels sorry for the animals that are killed. I can’t make her eat meat and I don’t feel she is getting proper nutrition especially iron. How should I handle this?
-Katrina




Dear Katrina,

This phase isn’t too unusual for teens. She may or may not give it up after a while. I hope she likes most vegetables. Spinach and kale are good sources of iron as well as eggs and raisins.

You might start with a visit to her MD and make sure her overall health is good. Your next step is to see a specialist in nutrition to work out a healthy diet of things she likes.

A vegetarian diet won’t hurt her, just make sure she eats things that are good for her and she doesn’t fill up on junk food. Let her know that you will support her diet but that you want her to follow a good nutritionally balanced diet.

Good luck.
-Sara

Comments

  1. I quit eating meat, fowl and seafood when I realized that I threw up after eating them, that was 77 years ago. I have been healthy, only having the usual (for the time) measels, mumps, chicken pox, occasional flu, colds and a broken arm.

    Some people get very upset with me when they find out that I am a vegetarian. I do eat chicken eggs usually in a scrambled mode, and some cheeses, real cheddar, swiss, Jack and one or two others. In general my diet is random, and for the past 25 years, I eat most of my meals in restaurants so I know the food is not necessarily the most nutritious, but it works. I will admit I am 40 pounds heavier than I would like to be, but that is because my food intake is about the same as before I broke my hip. I am back to about 85%, but don’t walk as much as I know I should.

    I was an athlete throughout school, and when the rest of the teams were exhausted, and dragging their butts, I would run 2 or more miles, and then run 4.5 miles home.

    I don’t believe that being a vegetarian hurt me, as my older brother died at 74 years old, and my younger brother, the heavy meat eater, died when he was 48 years old. Our dad who also was a very heavy meat eater died at 43 years old.

  2. Eat the food that is put on the table or sit there until it is gone!.

  3. My daughter and granddaughters all became vegetarians at 15. Only one remains a mostly vegetarian.
    I think it is important to follow Sara’s advice but to also emotionally support them. They will come under attack, be bullied and even deceived by family members who think they know better. This may be a phase, and it may be a life choice. Whatever they choose it is important to remember that it is their choice. All I asked of them is that they not become a full vegan until after they turn 18 and can be responsible for cooking their own food. I am not now and wasn’t up to it then. I could supplement their diet by added more veggie dishes for them but to go vegan was a lot of work for me.
    They respected me because I respected them, one did try the vegan route at 18 and decided she was a vegetarian with vegan tendencies.
    Celebrate our differences, I have really learned a lot from my vegetarian girls!

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