They say raising vegetarian children is not easy. On one hand, you need to convince your children to eat vegetarian meals, and on the other you have your own doubts over your choice. Here are a few tips to help you raise your children on a veggie diet with a clear conscience.
There must be so many parents who raise vegetarian children either because the child refuses to consume meat or because the parents themselves prefer a vegetarian diet. But it might make parents wonder if their child is getting all the essential nourishment for their growth, if fed with a vegetarian diet. My article will guide you with ideas about tasty and nutritious vegetarian diet, as well as ways to continue with a vegetarian lifestyle for your kids.
Raising Vegetarian Children
It is easy to raise children on a vegetarian diet right from their birth. This is because, they learn to like vegetarian food from the time they start eating solid food. In case, you wish to shift their diet from non-vegetarian to vegetarian at a slightly older age, then there is every possibility of your child putting up a strong resistance. Here are some tips to help you make the transition easily.
Be a Leader
You might be an animal lover and vouch for raising vegetarian children all the time. But how to go about it? It is common knowledge that children look up to their parents as their idols. So you need to start by adopting a vegetarian diet yourself. Eat vegetables in your daily routine and make your child taste it. Gradually, your child will develop a taste for it and he/she will turn vegetarian.
Encourage Animal Love
There are several parents who wish to inculcate a love for animals in their children’s mind. For this, they plan a trip to a local zoo or to an animal farm in the countryside. Here, parents let their children know the source of their favorite meat balls and chicken rolls. The basic idea is not of creating a disgust in the minds of young children, but to make them aware about food facts from the beginning.
It is commonly assumed that only a ‘meat’ diet is the best source of nutrition for growing children. Parents preferring a vegetarian diet for their children are rebuked for taking away certain essential nutrients like iron and proteins from their children’s diet. People tend to fear that a vegetarian diet may lead to anemia amongst children. However, these are just myths. In fact, there are components of every known nutrient in a vegetarian diet as well. If you provide a healthy diet in an adequate portions, then there is no fear of poor nourishment at all. In fact, children fed with a vegetarian diet tend to be leaner and healthier, while those who are fed with meat have greater chances of turning obese.
Vegetarian meals have one advantage. You can mix different vegetables to form new and varied recipes each time you cook. I am not saying that non-vegetarian meals are limited but it is just that vegetarian meals always have more options to choose from. One of best tips for keeping children hooked on vegetables is to make attractive lunch boxes or dinner plates for them.
It is quite likely that your children will feel out-of-place in schools if they are eating meals that look different from other kids. So, you might want to camouflage vegetarian food. For e.g. you can easily use wheat gluten or soy to make foods that look like hotdogs and chicken nuggets. Similarly, there is the option of making a colorful meal for your children. Colors tend to attract children’s attention and induce them to eat their food. For this, there is a style of Japanese bento lunch boxes where meals are designed to look colorful and cute.
Well, why stop yourself from experimenting with vegetarian food? Do as much research as you can on the Internet and find some amazing vegetarian recipes to make each meal special and different for your kids. Point is, practically every culture around the world have some really scrumptious vegetarian recipes.
Alerting Teachers and Family
It is not possible for you to be around each time your kids are eating. Since your child’s school provides midday snacks or lunches to the students, make it a point to inform the class teacher about your child’s vegetarian food preference. At other times, when your child is visiting his grandparents or friends then make it a point to inform a responsible person about your child’s food preferences. Others might consider the whole idea of vegetarianism as ridiculous, but be firm and stick to what exactly you want your child to eat.
This is a game based on common child psychology. If you are lucky enough to have sufficient space for a kitchen garden in your backyard, then make sure to involve your children in growing and harvesting vegetables. They will eagerly eat food preparations made from vegetables they plucked with their own hands. At other times, you might start reading books on vegetarian recipes along with your children. This is likely to tempt them to start helping you with the cooking. You might already be aware of this, but children usually love to eat what they prepare themselves.
Before I end this article, I have one last piece of advice for you. Once your child starts thinking on his own, he may stick to his vegetarian diet or might voice out his opinions about an omnivorous diet preference. As a parent, be broad-minded to accept the child’s decision as it is useless forcing your opinions on them. Encourage and appreciate them for choosing healthy eating habits.