Last week, I posted a story about a little boy, no more than a toddler, who had both broken and warmed the hearts of adults everywhere, vegetarian or not, by explaining why he didn’t want to eat animals. But what do you do if you’re an omnivore family or parent with a vegetarian kid?
This week on WashingtonPost.com, writer Casey Seidenberg poses that very question and also finds some very good answers. The article, “Vegetarian children in omnivorous households,” gives parents some great advice for how to handle a vegetarian child in a home that isn’t vegetarian.
1. Know that it’s perfectly healthy to raise your child vegetarian.
As quoted in the article, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that
well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”
2. Have the right attitude toward your child’s choice.
Seidenberg says that how you react to your child’s wish to eat vegetarian is very important.
Studies show that kids often use food as a point of control with their parents, because what they put in their mouths is one of the few things they can influence while under a parent’s roof. But don’t transform this newfound interest in vegetarianism into a battle.”
Show respect for your child’s choice, but make sure that your child understands that they need to respect the choice other family members and friends have made to eat a diet that does contain animal products.
3. You and your child need to educate each other.
Ask your child why they’ve made the decision to be a vegetarian kid and then really listen to the answers. Don’t discount or try to argue against their motivation. Then help them to learn about how to eat healthfully as a vegetarian. Make sure they don’t replace animal products with junk.
Having a child with different dietary needs can be bothersome at times, but if the family works together to respect and adapt to each other’s needs, there are plenty of opportunities to broaden everyone’s horizons.