For the average meat-eating family, this statement could cause parental panic. How will their child get all the nutrients they need? And will every mealtime involve twice the cooking? Here’s how to cope when your child wants to become a vegetarian
Dietitian Kate Di Prima, co-author of More Peas Please: Solutions for Feeding Fussy Eaters (Allen & Unwin), agrees that a vegetarian diet can be a nutritious way to go with kids.
However, she has a warning for anyone involved in meal preparation who may not be used to cooking vegetarian meals: “If you’re a family of meat eaters and suddenly your child announces they’re vegetarian, you can’t just give them the same meal as everyone else minus the meat because they won’t be getting the nutrition they need to grow.”
Do your research
There’s no avoiding it – carnivore mums and dads will need to do some research on what to feed their meat-refusing offspring, Di Prima says.
“Zinc, iron and protein are nutrients essential to growth and development – and animal products are a great way to get these into kids,” she explains.
“Giving them just a plate of vegies, or letting them eat cereal three times a day won’t meet their nutritional requirements. Parents are going to have to think about what they’re feeding their kids.”
There’s also the emotional aspect of dealing with a child who decides to become vegetarian, Di Prima acknowledges.