“Mum, I want to be a vegetarian!”
Oh, what?! As parents, we already have a lot on our plate on daily basis. So when my child came to me to say that she has decided to change her food choices, I felt a bit desperate about the idea to cook different meals for the family every day.
I didn’t need to worry though! Our family learned how to embrace the change and it turned out to be a benefit for the whole family.
Try to understand their decision
The first thing I did when my daughter told me she had decided to become vegetarian, was to understand the reasons behind her decision and make sure she understood that from now on, she would have to make an effort to try different foods and vegetables she had never tried before, in order to get all the nutrients she needs as a teenager.
1. Find recipes the whole family likes
The next step was to google together new recipes and find the ones that all the family would enjoy, so there would be no need to cook two different meals for dinner every day. The choices are endless, and to my surprise we found many vegetarian recipes that have become favourite family dishes. Have a look at some great dishes at CookingLight, nice crowd pleasers at Cookie and Kate, healthy meals at Waitrose and last but definitely not least, we love Jamie Oliver‘s veg recipes.
2. Help your child to explore
A trip together to the local market for them to choose new vegetables and legumes they can try is another good idea to support your child’s decision. They can learn at the same time that every fruit and vegetable has its season. You could also start your own edible garden if you have space!
3. Engage your child into cooking
Invite your child to the kitchen to cook or prepare the dishes with you. It will not only give them confidence that you fully support the change, but also allows you to spend some fun time together (especially with teenagers) and learning a lot of new things in the process.
How about proteins?
One of the concerns I had was the right amount of protein intake, as my daughter is still in her growing years. So to boost the proteins I add a lot of seeds like chia, sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin, not only to salads, but to almost every meal we make. They add a little flavour and are a great source of protein.
Supporting my child with becoming a vegetarian looked like a long and difficult journey at the beginning, but honestly, it was easier than I thought it would be. Embracing my daughter’s choice has been very rewarding to the whole family. Although my daughter is still the only ‘real’ vegetarian in our family, now we all enjoy healthier and tasty meals, and we can proudly call ourselves semi-vegetarians or flexitarians.