The Kids Want To Be Vegetarian? Support Them

We spent a beautiful, cloudy day roaming around Providence, Rhode Island. We lunched near Brown University, lingered by foot on the tiny neighborhood streets, checked out Waterplace Park and decided to close our evening at a nearby Whole Foods. Not a moment in the day would have prepared me for the upcoming statement from Joslin and Dante. Together they decided they were going to become vegetarians.

I wasn’t completely surprised that Dante came to me with this conviction. At five years-old he had an epiphany over dinner at our favorite Irish Restaurant/pub, Fibber Magees. While devouring our usual orders we conversed about what a fun day we had when suddenly Dante stopped talking, slouched back in his chair and had a concerned look on his face … “Dad, what is this chicken made of?” he said slowly with watery eyes. I could only smile to myself as Eddie fumbled his words and tried to gently explain. On the other hand, Joslin has always been a big meat-eater. This girl would eat cheeseburgers for every meal if she could. There were times I thought we should buy shares of stock in In-N-Out (if it were publicly traded).

We talked about the changes they would need to make, and how sometimes it would be hard because not every place will have Vegetarian/Vegan options. We pointed out that now they will have to make an effort in making sure to get enough vitamins, proper amounts of Iron and what every NON-Vegan/Vegetarian asks about: PROTEIN.

Kiss This Day - Veggie Boy
Pushing his plate forward, 5-year-old Dante said, “This chicken is made of birds and I don’t want to eat cute animals.”

We also stressed the importance of looking inward and listening to their bodies, if they have a strong desire for a Non-Vegetarian meal then it is something they should consider.

When we arrived home from our 10,000-mile US road trip we hit the library and picked up every Vegetarian/Vegan book and cookbook in the juvenile section. We are now three months in and it turns out Dante is more of a “flexitarian” which means he eats mostly Vegetarian, but consumes meat on occasion. Strong-willed Joslin has tottled between Lacto-vegetarian which includes dairy and Lacto-ovo Vegetarian which includes dairy and eggs.

All in all, on this wild ride called parenting we have learned that it is best to support your child’s interests. Let them explore who they are and experience life they way they choose – with parental guidance to protect their mental and physical well-being, of course.

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