Raising Veggies

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This week a subject came up about vegetarian children and the choice being forced upon them by parents. Some suggested it was unfair and the child needs a good meal in them suggesting meat!

I admit I got offended by this not only because it’s no-one else’s business but largely due to fact both my children were veggie till age 2. With my first I was vegetarian myself and despite craving ham I stayed away and when he got to weaning age he was fed veggie options.

In general he was a fussy eater so by age 2 I started giving him meat. My own mum would feed him mince and I would make him fish. His diet improved as did his eating habits.

Along came child number 2 and he isn’t meat eater at all. He enjoys a ham sandwich but otherwise prefers non meat meals including substitutes he’s just not that into it.

For our children it was partly our choice partly theirs. My eldest eats meat at school and gets the occasional bit of chicken at home. Youngest eats only ham sandwiches. Both are very healthy children with no health issues.

The second thing to consider is the enforcement of this diet by parents. What is so wrong with educating our children? At some point all children ask where does my sausage come from? Most don’t comprehend what that means but you get a veggie child who instead asks why are we/others vegetarian and you open a whole different subject.

Alina from We Made This Life agrees stating many told her she was forcing this onto her children but she asks aren’t meat eaters technically doing the same? Where the rule in the ‘How to be a human handbook’ that states we MUST eat meat?

Without going into detail you can explain and give them a much more informed decision about  others choices. Many parents I know give the child a choice about eating meat and many of these children chose to not eat it. Nicholas (from Global Mouse Travels) children are offered meat but say no

Kate’s Daughter from Living life our Way chose to go vegetarian herself! Kate herself wasn’t veggie and her daughters choice actually taught her and changed her eating habits. If a child chooses this step is it better somehow?

Milla from Live Oxfordshire is meat eater but offers her children a large amount of vegetarian foods compared to other meat-eating households may and as a result her child just like mine is showing preference to veggie food.

The other thing to consider when questioning our motives is surely our children wouldn’t eat it is they didn’t like it?

Not to get graphic but  a few years ago a child I looked after ate meat but was constipated basically all the time when her family swapped to more veggie meals this sorted itself. This is yet another factor no doctor will advise large meat intake for a child struggling in that way just as no doctor will say you MUST feed your child any meat at all!

Emma at Canny Food has written an article about a similar subject but she brings up her child Vegan which is includes no dairy products. (click her blog name to write the post). She also states she is in full contact with her doctor and a dietician and they have no issue with her choices due to her baby being healthy!

Jennifer over at My Mummies Pennies is the child who chose to go veggie at age 11. It’s just a phase, she’ll stop soon well she’s now 21 years later and I’m pretty sure the definition of a phase doesn’t cover 2 decades. She however decided her children could eat meat due to her husband being a meat eater yet they incorporate 3-4 meals a week that have no meat , because lets face it who wants to make 2 lots of meals 7 days a week!

Jenny at The Brick Castle is one the people I spoke to whose children are now adults. She says all 3 were brought up veggie and 2 have chosen to stay veggie! Children who were brought up this way, healthily, spoken to carefully about this choice and it’s resulted in adults who have stuck by that choice!!

One of my own decisions to not cook much meat at home is partly down to fact I’m not very good at it. I can’t add it to every meal and was never taught how. Fee at One of Each agrees if her veggie children chose to eat meat she wouldn’t be sure about cooking it. You could argue we aren’t teaching them to cook responsibly and it’s an important skill but how many of the meat-eating readers can say they could make a vegetarian meal they haven’t seen before and not include pastry and cheese in it ! Fee also states it made sense for her to raise her children to be veggie than to feed them meat and the children regret that choice later on if they decide to stay veggie.

Another family with children given meat and veggie option where one chooses meat and one choose veggie is Mummy’s Little Stars. They eat regular Quorn based meals as well as the odd ham sarnie and pepperoni pizza.

Katie at Mummy in a Tutu has the situation were her and the child’s father spilt. She states that the dad allows their child to be vegetarian but she is adamant it must be her daughters decisions and not the parents.

I agree some parents are irresponsible and many just don’t have the education to feed a child a decent diet nevermind meat free.

Did you know the Food Standards for schools states that every school HAS to have at least one veggie option every day available? Does your local/child’s school offer vegetarian because they should be. This food standards is a government requirement.

None of us are saying meat eating is wrong everyone has openly said it is their choice and they don’t feel we as a race need meat to survive but we also don’t want to say you are wrong offer a chicken leg or a beef steak so why should we have to put up with opinionated comments.

It’s important to not confuse the news stories about vegan children dying due to their diet, or the local preschool kid who looks so skinny and pale purely because she needs a good meaty meal in her. I’m not denying it’s not diet related but simply feeding a child a sausage doesn’t solve health problems related to diet.

According to the NHS Eatwell Guide Protein is needed less than vegetables and carbohydrates. The guide states vegetables and carbohydrates should make up 33% each of your daily diet milk and other dairy being 15% and meat being only 12%.

Foods containing protein are:

Eggs, nuts, pulses, beans, tofu as well as meat. It is recommended to eat less red meat as too much can lead to bowel cancer and to eat lean meats that are lower in fat.

Other advantages to vegetarian diet are you have a naturally lower fat diet and often the protein alternatives are higher in protein that meat.

Whatever your choice we are all getting it right as long as our children are healthy and happy.