Your child, whose life you value above your own, is in good company in wanting to go vegetarian or vegan, and is choosing a nutritionally superior diet. However, as she is living in a generally non-vegetarian world, there is going to be some effort required that your child does get enough of the right types of food.
So how hard is that going to be? For the most part, you’ll be able to substitute vegetarian products for meat and provide your son or daughter adequate nutrition. As the rest of your family catches on, it will become easier and easier until everyone is eating the same thing again: healthy yummy veggie food!
The first meal of the day is the easiest to deal with. Soy, rice or oat milk (or a combination) instead of regular milk for vegan kids. Most breakfast items that normal people eat are vegetarian or vegan anyway. I find that the morning is a great time to eat fruit, and compliment this with toast with Nuttelex (I have discovered that the ‘Pulse‘ variety is better than the other) or peanut butter.
For take-to-school lunches, sandwich meats can also be very easily substituted with slices of tofu, lentil paddies, etc. Beans can be added to salads or constitute a salad of their own (good for dinner too).
Currently supermarkets in Australia boast shelves of vegetarian sausages (I like Fry’s the best – as for them), roasts, schnitzels, marinated tofu, etc. A mixed lentil, pea and bean soup can be kept in the fridge for almost a week (depends on your fridge!) and heated. The advantage of vegetarian food is that it can be kept longer than non-veg, so you will be able to cook for your child in bulk for most purposes. That is, until the rest of the family has caught on.
More and more products are available in supermarkets every year! To avoid excess stress in preparing meals, get aquatinted with the latest nutritional health information and let your whole family know. Perhaps they will agree to cut down their meat intake and thus simplify meal preparation.
My advice, as a healthy young adult vegetarian, is to fully support your child’s decision. If you need to, ask for their help in finding the right foods to stock in the cupboard and fridge. Make it a team effort and you will help your child feel included, loved and supported. The worst think you could do would be to try to stifle or slow your child’s development in this regard. Just take my word for it (veggie for 6 years, vegan for 1), and go with it ;)
Although ideology and tradition still play powerful roles in disseminating nutrition myths, most nutritionists now fully support vegetarian and vegan diets. There are links between vegetarianism (especially veganism) and better health, higher IQ, longer life.
Your family is going to have to come to terms with the idea that your child is ahead of the rest of you in this regard. Although you or other members of your family may at first view his or her abstinence as obstinate and stubborn, I hope you soon will all be very proud to have such a forward, free thinking and compassionate being in your tribe.
Most of the eminent figures who we consider founders or great helpers of our civilization were in fact vegetarian. These include Pythagoras, Socrates, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstien, Thomas Eddison, Nicholas Tesla, Voltaire, Tolstoy, George Bernard Shaw, Ghandi, Abraham Lincon and Benjamin Franklin! Oh, and if your child’s a girl, don’t worry, she won’t turn into a boy (which you could be forgiven for thinking looking at the above list). Read quotes from many of the above