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How to Cope When Your Child Goes Vegan

How to Cope When Your Child Goes Vegan

The announcement that your teen (or tween) is going vegan can come as a bombshell. You may worry that a vegan lifestyle will lead to poor nutrition, skyrocketing grocery bills, the end of cozy family mealtimes, or just plain extra work for your home’s resident chief cook and bottle washer. These fears are normal. But a little understanding and a lot of love will go a long way to put your mind at rest. Here are 9 ways to open the lines of communication about veganism.

1. Understand what veganism is: a way of life. Its most obvious component is a strictly plant-based diet, which some people adhere to mainly out of concern for their health or the environment. However, the majority of vegans are committed to eliminating all exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals. Since the Vegan Society was established 70 years ago in England, vegans have eschewed the use of products such as leather, fur, silk, and wool, as well as animal foods.

2. Respect your son or daughter’s choice. Adolescence is a time for young people to develop their own unique vision of the world, which may include ideas and philosophies that contradict their parents’ (gasp!). Choosing to be a vegan is often the result of long and deep thought about how to live an ethical life.

3. Find how much your child knows – and ask them to teach you. Your doubts about whether they will be able to get the nutrients they need may be groundless. If your youngster has done some serious reading on the subject of veganism, they are likely to have a good knowledge of the best foods to eat for healthy growth.

4. Learn together. Reading and discussing books on veganism and vegan recipes with your child can be an excellent way to learn and get closer. Two suggested titles to start with are Eating Animals and The Kind Diet.

5. Check that they are getting sufficient protein, Vitamin B12, and Omega-3 acids. Protein is present in many common vegan foods, especially legumes and whole grains. B12 is harder to obtain from a vegan diet, so if levels of this essential nutrient are low, a supplement such as nutritional yeast may be advisable. Ditto for Omega-3 acids. A consultation with a dietitian who is knowledgeable about veganism is highly recommended.

6. Take a deep breath. You do not have to re-organize your whole kitchen. Although veganism means avoiding a lot of the foods you yourself may eat regularly, many basic ingredients such as spices, vegetable oils, and flour are the same. You won’t have to invest in a new set of pots and pans either, or have another fridge or stove hooked up.

7. Lighten the cooking workload. If you are chiefly responsible for preparing family meals, you’re not likely to welcome any extra work. However, rather than cooking double for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can find a compromise. As the Meatless Monday concept catches on, more and more families are experimenting with meat-free cuisine as a green alternative at least once a week. Think split pea soup, falafel, and bean burritos, to name just a few vegan dishes the whole family will enjoy. Pressed for time? It’s fine to take shortcuts with vegan convenience food brands such as Gardein, Tofurky, and Morningstar.

8. Invite your child to play guest chef. Encourage your vegan youngster to take over food prep once in a while. You’ll be getting a break, while he or she gains important adult survival skills.

9. Have fun. A big part of eating together is enjoying each other’s company and fostering closeness. Focus on good feelings and pleasant conversation rather than what is on everyone’s plate. And after supper, relax together occasionally with a favorite family activity … perhaps watching a movie, accompanied by a big bowl of (naturally vegan) popcorn.

By Laura Firszt, Networx.

Related:
6 Nutrients Every Vegetarian Needs
25 Vegan Sources for Calcium
More Vegan Recipes & Tips

Read more: Children, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Family, Food, General Health, Teens, Vegan, , , , , ,

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84 comments

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12:32AM PDT on Sep 29, 2014

Thank you!

6:51AM PDT on Sep 11, 2014

Very simple and easy, turn vegan too! We can always learn from children.

3:15AM PDT on Sep 9, 2014

When vegitarians come over I don't cook food specifically for them, but I always have salads and plenty of vegitables. If I had a kid, they would have to do the samething. And Lisa T, have no idea where you get your info, but B12 is in Shellfish, Liver, Mackerel, Crab, Beef, Milk/cheese. eggs . . . .

3:05AM PDT on Sep 9, 2014

Thank you :)

10:09PM PDT on Sep 7, 2014

thanks

5:09PM PDT on Sep 7, 2014

Good tips but Please don't make them eat Books.. :)

2:48AM PDT on Sep 7, 2014

You just adjust, easy!
And your child teaches you many things...

5:55PM PDT on Sep 6, 2014

My youngest daughter is vegan and I send her many of the Care 2 Healthy Living tips:)

8:30AM PDT on Sep 6, 2014

In stark contrast to what my parents do. Badmouth the hell out of me because I can't eat "normal food" in cafées, have to bring my own and eat in the car, etc. So what? My vegan food is delicous :)

6:10AM PDT on Sep 5, 2014

Some comments cement the fact that the 98% of Americans who eat the Standard American Diet don't eat nearly enough veggies and fruits; otherwise why the "coping" and struggle and "they'd better learn to love cooking" comments? Cooking vegan food doesn't take a Ph.D for goodness sake. Do you make chili with meat? Make it without meat. Beans and rice, spaghetti and marinara, soups with veggie broth instead of chicken or beef broth, pizza topped with Daiya cheese and veggies, bean burritos, cereal with soy/almond/coconut/hemp/flax/cashew/rice milk, etc.

Thank goodness your child is questioning the way things have always been done (doesn't mean it's right, you know?). Shows maturity, self-respect, growing compassion for all beings, a desire to be healthy and prevent totally preventable killers in the US.

Everyone ought to take a B12 supplement. No animal or plant food has it (a supplement's added to the completely unnatural feed given to food animals but you're also getting cholesterol, saturated fats, and whatever chemicals were sprayed on the feed and injected into the poor animal--organic, "grass fed" may have less chemicals but the same unhealthy amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats. Animal protein diets are very difficult for our bodies to process because we're not meant to eat it. And it's been proven to cause cancer.

Healthy vegans get plenty of protein; in fact, the optimum amount is 10-11%. Those eating SAD diets are eating three times that much and hardly

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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