Crispy Vegetable Tacos

If your child decided to become a vegetarian, would you be a) Shocked? b) Thrilled? c) Supportive? d) Horrified?

Five months ago, our 12-year-old daughter Celia decided that she didn’t want to eat animals of any kind anymore, including chicken and fish. This is Celia’s second time swearing off meat, but this time she seems much more committed to her decision and, unlike last year, she isn’t at all tempted to eat meat.

We are clearly not alone in having a family member who doesn’t eat meat.  While nationwide, only about 3 percent of kids are vegetarian, according to a study by the Vegetarian Resource Group, it seems like we all know kids who follow some form of a vegetarian diet.  A recent Six O’Clock Scramble poll showed that nearly half of subscribers have family members who don’t eat some type of meat.  Nationwide, somewhere between 4 and 10 percent of Americans consider themselves vegetarian.

Andrew and I are proud of Celia and we want to support her as she tries to develop her own set of values.  We are not big meat eaters — we only eat meat and fish once or twice a week, so the transition has been pretty smooth.  When I do serve meat, I also make sure to serve something healthy that Celia can eat, such as beans, carrots and hummus, tofu, or yogurt, and we all enjoy the same side dishes.  I also keep a couple of frozen vegetarian entrees on hand (her favorites are frozen burritos and pesto tortellini) for nights when we have meat or go to someone’s house who is serving meat.

We’ve talked to Celia about how to ensure she maintains a healthy and balanced diet. She’s agreed that she needs to be even more adventurous with foods and eat more nuts so she gets enough protein, vitamins, and variety in her diet.  One positive change I’ve noticed is that she is eating more fruits and vegetables than ever.

These meatless tacos are a terrific way to get healthy beans into your family’s diet without sacrificing flavor.  Both Celia and Solomon (our meat loving boy) can easily eat two or three of these in one sitting – they enjoy the challenge of building their own tacos and trying to stuff them in their mouths before they crumble.

If you are raising a vegetarian child, here are some excellent resources and articles:

Raising Vegetarian Kids? Here Are Some Pointers from NPR.

Vegetarian Diets for Children: Right from the Start from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The Veg Kitchen with Nava Atlas.

Do you have any advice or questions about raising a vegetarian child? Please share in the comments below.

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