Anyone's Child Gone Meatless (Vegetarian?)

Updated on September 27, 2010
B.D. asks from McKinney, TX
14 answers

My 6 year old son loves animals and recently decided he won't eat meat.

My husband is beside himself. He was raised on a farm where cows were used for meat and he hunts deer. We make healthy meals most nights but they always included lean chicken, turkey, etc.

My issue is my son won't eat it anymore. I appreciate his concern but I want to make sure he gets the nutrients he needs to grow.

We went out and bought some veggie items - like veggie hot dogs (didn't like these) and veggie burgers (he did like these) and we have a few others we are waiting to try out.

I am assuming this is a phase but how would you or have you handled this in the past? I really do NOT want to make more than one meal in an evening but can understand him not wanting to eat meat at the same time.

I did buy some veggie chicken pieces and crumbles to try in a meal. We haven't tried that yet.

Thanks in advance!

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answers from Dallas on

Husbands crack me up! Mine is the same way and used to get so upset because my son wouldn't eat meat. My son is only a toddler so it's not a vegetarian thing (yet) but a preference thing. He will eat it every once in a while, but not as much as the fruits and veggies. I used to worry, but I realized he was getting enough protein from other things. There are also other things that are full of iron. It's great that you are helping him out.

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answers from Houston on

My daughter went vegetarian at 4. Please do not discourage your sons decisions to go vegetarian, he doesnt need meat to be healthy, in fact not eating it gives him an advantage, farms have gone downhill since your husband was a boy. Its almost impossible to find non acidic "clean" meat these days. You dont have to buy mock meat either, if he eats cheese , peanut butter, beans, hes getting enough. If you want to buy mock meat there are good ones available in almost all stores now, but its merely for fun, and not necessary AT ALL. Your son has made the right choice, and from a place of such empathy and understanding, not worried about feeling he is different and he is putting morality into his decisions. Sounds like a good boy you have there! just stick to what you already make, just omit the meat, or replace it, in his portion.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Actually those soy crumbles (ground meat sub) is pretty good... I throw in diced tomatoes, corn, taco seasoning, onion, garlic.... sprinkle some cheese, yummy tacos w/ black beans on the side.
LOVE the meatless meatballs for spaghetti night -- those can be found in the frozen section. Walmart carries these w/the Morning Star items. Really good ones are found at Whole Foods in frozen section.
Whole Foods has a great selection of vegan/vegetarian items. They make/sell a vegan mock chicken salad in their deli section. YUM!! Tastes like chicken salad -- we kept reading the ingredients b/c we felt certain we were eating real chicken. They also have a section of vegan protein items next to the milk section.... You can find ready made dinners from Banyan Foods -- Tofu Veggie Fried Rice, Tofu Tamales, Egg Rolls.... all soooo yummy!!! All you do is pop them in microwave! So easy for quick dinners.

There's more and more research these days proving that a vegan/vegetarian diet (plant-based, non-diary) is the best way to prevent heart disease and in many cases reverses clogged arteries and lowers cholesterol. It definitely keeps your cholesterol in check --- cholesterol ONLY comes from animal sources. Once you eliminate most animal sources from your diet -- your cholesterol levels immediately go down naturally. My bro had been on cholesterol meds for a long time.... now he mostly has vegetarian diet, occasionally slips up, and his cholesterol is in check - naturally.

anyway it's a completely healthy way of living, in addition to environmental issues and animal cruelty/treatment issues on farm factories.

The main thing is to make sure he is getting a wide variety of protein sources: soy proteins (meat subs), beans, legumes, nuts-- peanut butter, veggies. The greener veggies have the most nutrition (calcium, Vitamins) -- Kale, spinach, broccoli.

Let me know if you have specific questions.... We've been veg since April and love it. I still occasionally cook meat for my kids b/c I want them to be able to choose for themselves.... and sometimes they still eat chicken ...but they mostly don't like it b/c we make such yummy foods....
the other night I made a veggie pot pie.... instead of adding chicken, I just added more veggies and chopped potatoes. Yum! It was a big hit.



answers from Dallas on

Thanks for posting this question my almost 9 year old daughter has never, ever liked red meat or chicken. My husband is completely agaisnt her being a vegetarian and always tries to force her to eat these foods because he says she will "starve" if she doesn't eat as he does (he is a raging carnivore). I'm glad you all respect your daugters/sons wishes since it just turns dinner time into a battlefield.
I will continue to do as I do which is serve my daughter whatever we eat except the meat part and replace with cheese/eggs/fish or almonds. I'll explain my husband that she is NOT him and probably will be a vegetarian when she grows up, which I think it's great!
have a great night!



answers from Austin on

I would make sure that he is getting enough protein. Adding beans and rice to all of your diets could be beneficial. And did you know that yogurt has protein? Just make sure that you read the ingredients and aren't getting something with sugar. Honestly, as long as he was eating all his veggies, fruit and grains, I wouldn't worry. Ask your pediatrician if you are concerned.



answers from Boston on

My whole family likes the MorningStar veggie sausage better than regular sausage. The patty kind is best. If you can find them, Boca Burger makes vegetarian italian and smoked sausage that are also really good as subs for dinner.

This might be a phase, but it might not. I think you've gotten good suggestions. I recommend that you get one or two easy vegetarian cookbooks, at least to give you some ideas.

The other good thing, if of course you can get your husband to buy in, is not only eating vegetarian often healthier (just don't substitute cheese for meat!) you will be amazed how much your grocery bill drops even if you're just eating vegetarian 3-4 times/week.

Finally, I would not worry too much about protein intake at this point. Little bodies actually need very little. That's not to say you shouldn't try to get him to like alternate protein sources (beans, tofu, legumes, eggs, high protein cheeses) but it's not like he's going out and running a marathon tomorrow.

Good luck with your little animal lover. I think that it's both sweet and very mature that he's made the connection between loving animals and eating them.


answers from Dallas on

Well I have turned vegetarian about 5 years ago and I am raising my children Vegetarian.

You can be a vegetarian and eat a diet full of nutrients. I will say first of all stay away from things are made from Soya that pretend to be meat ;)

Eat beans,legumes and vegetables. good luck



answers from Minneapolis on

My 8 year old went totally vegetarian last spring after seeing a billboard with a puppy and a pig that said, "why love one and eat the other" She too, is a total animal lover, and could not reconcile that statement in her little mind. Of course, her Dad is also a vegetarian (for health reasons) and so she is very familiar with veggie meals and food choices. She never did like any kind of meat except breaded chicken, and there are plenty of good vegetarian substitutes for that. I even found a vegetarian asian orange chicken in the frozed section of Target, which she loved. I am not a vegetarian, and neither is my 11 year old, so our family is half and half. We're big believers in putting out a lot of healthy foods at each meal, lots of veggies and fruit sides, and allowing our kids to make choices. My non-veggie daughter and I also enjoy many vegetarian meals, so sometimes we all eat the same thing, and some nights we have a separate meat and veggie version. Try the Morningstar Farms and BOCA products, as well as Quorn. We all LOVE the Quorn spicy southwest chikn tenders (found at local coop health food store, Mississippi Market) I agree the Morningstar veggie sausages are really good. Much less greasy than real sausage. Love the veggie bacon too. Use the recipe crumbles to make chili. I also agree that veggie hot dogs taste terrible. However, Trader Joe's makes a veggie corn dog that she does like. Trader Joes and a lot of wonderful vegetarian foods. We like their barbeque veggie pulled chicken. For us, the hardest part is school lunches. My daughter gets tired of peanut butter and jelly, so I bought a hot thermos and have been making her some noodle dishes to mix things up, some days we do bagels/cream cheese. At least there are some days they serve a vegetarian entree or option at school. I didn't think she'd stick to it, but even at 8, she knows, and I support her, that this is right for her. Good luck!



answers from Topeka on

Don't make a big deal out of it...I have 3 kids during all my pregnancies I hated to eat meat I would vomit from the site & smell let alone eating it.I ate plenty of fruits & veggies & everyting else that was good for me & baby.Now I still don't like meat & my oldest 2 don't like to eat that much meat they will eat some of it but not all of it put it this way 1 large pprk chop divided 3 ways is good enough.They eat so much healthy foods I don't fret over it their not sick or anemic they get plenty of other protein packed foods raw veggies & fresh fruits



answers from Sacramento on

Hi Bree,
My husband and I have been vegetarians for many many years and have raised our children the same. They are 5 and 6 and healthy as horses. Just make sure your little one is getting plenty of protein. You can do a quick search about this and find that there are surprising sources for protein!

I would caution you regarding the prepackaged and meat substitutes, as you mentioned veggie dogs, veggie burgers. Be careful about the very high sodium content in some of these items. You might better opt for beans, lentils, cheese, eggs, tofu, and only use the processed foods in moderation.

Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

My daughter recently decided to become vegetarian, but she is 16 almost 17. She likes bean, rice and cheese burritos. I made enchiladas the other night and substituted rice and cheese for the meat for filler. Eggs are a great substitute for protein. She doesn't like a lot of the meat substitute stuff, but Amy's veggie lasagna was a hit with her. We also found meatless meatballs to add to pasta dishes.



answers from Anchorage on

My 5 year old does not eat meat. I can get him to eat fish, eggs, and the occasional chicken, but absolutely no red meat. I do not try to buy the veggie meat options, they almost always are awful. And I refuse to make more than one dinner, so I make dinner, and than what ever meat we have I replace with a different protein for him, like cottage cheese with peaches, or peanut butter with apple slices, something simple that does not require a lot of extra effort on my part, but still gives him the nutrition he needs.

My husband grew up on a cattle ranch, and is still a hunter, but he understands that our son is not him, and he will have his own likes/dislikes/ and desires. I will do what I can to support my children in whoever they are.



answers from Eugene on

My sister was about 8 when she gave up meat (she's 22 now and hasn't touched it since). We were raised on a ranch an in a very conservative part of the country--but it's her body. My mom was great about just making a vegetarian version of what we had for dinner--so meatless spaghetti sauce--or a soup with vegetable stock. Essentially it was the same ingredients minus the meat. When we had a meat and potato meal she just ate the "side dishes." By the way--veggie corn dogs--are the best things ever--I can't even eat the meat ones now! Personally, I am a meat eater, but I still think the average vegetarian meal is healthier than the average meat meal so perhaps it would be a good way to get everyone in the family eating more vegetables and whole grains (it did for us!). By the way, good for you for being a supportive mom on this--I was always so proud of my mom for standing up for my sister's right to eat a vegetarian diet.



answers from Columbus on

My son has never really been a "meat fan" and he is only 4. He just recently started to eat some meat, but just his personality (which is very similar to mine) just prefers not to eat it. Anyways, we eat a lot of cottage cheese, cheese snacks, and eggs as snacks to help with the protein. Just b/c he doesn't eat meat shouldn't mean 2 seperate meals at dinner. Also, my son is a big pasta eater - maybe at the beginning of the week cook a big batch of pasta up and have it readily available for your son to substitute for his meat portion at dinner. He should still be able to eat all the same side items as the family.

Good luck!

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