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Thread summary:

Raising children vegetarian: veggie playmates, kid-friendly cookbooks, school lunches, monthly potlucks

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Old 07-01-2008, 11:14 PM
 
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I'm just wondering if there is anyone raising their children vegetarian or vegan. Have you been able to find other veggie playmates for your children? Do you have any good suggestions for kid-friendly cookbooks? Any good ideas for school lunches?
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Old 07-02-2008, 09:26 AM
 
Location: in pa, but missin montana
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hi crazy me,
we are a vegetarian family also. My husband and i were veg several years before we met each other and are raising our 10 month old daughter as a vegetarian. It sounds like your kids are older than mine since you are asking for ideas on school lunches. Where do you live, is it a vegetarian friendly place? We use to live in seattle and bozeman montana, both of which are very vegen/veg friendly. Now we live in Pa, and I'd have to say its quite different here! Have you checked out any vegetarian societys in your area? They often have monthly potlucks and are a great way to meet like-minded people. If not, maybe you could start one. My husband did something similar to that when he was in college in Olympia Washington. Maybe you could invite your kids friends over for a vegetarian meal- that way it could expose their friends to the food, and make it more "accepting" to their friends. Good luck! I know it can be tough when people give you a hard time. I always get through that by telling myself what a positive impact I am having on my families health and the benefits to the environment!
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Old 07-02-2008, 10:33 AM
 
Location: Chicago
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Originally Posted by crazyme4878 View Post
I'm just wondering if there is anyone raising their children vegetarian or vegan. Have you been able to find other veggie playmates for your children? Do you have any good suggestions for kid-friendly cookbooks? Any good ideas for school lunches?
I was not raised vegetarian, yet my boyfriend (and his entire family) were (they are Hindu). My first question is why do they need "veggie" playmates? That seems a bit odd to me. Secondly, I would suggest meeting with a nutritionist to come up with a plan for your child that is healthy. My sister in law is a pediatrician and she had a child come into the ER who's mom was raising it "vegan." Mom was doing it improperly, the child was 5 months old, and ended up dying due to poor brain development. Obviously, this is not the norm and there are ways to do this in a healthy manner, but I would seek out professional consultation!
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Old 07-02-2008, 12:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jessiegirl_98 View Post
I was not raised vegetarian, yet my boyfriend (and his entire family) were (they are Hindu). My first question is why do they need "veggie" playmates? That seems a bit odd to me. Secondly, I would suggest meeting with a nutritionist to come up with a plan for your child that is healthy. My sister in law is a pediatrician and she had a child come into the ER who's mom was raising it "vegan." Mom was doing it improperly, the child was 5 months old, and ended up dying due to poor brain development. Obviously, this is not the norm and there are ways to do this in a healthy manner, but I would seek out professional consultation!
There is a huge difference between raising kids as vegetarian and vegan. It is extremely hard to raise them vegan and you must be very, very dedicated. It is much easier to raise them vegetarian if you include eggs and dairy because those items offer so much protein and fat. Because we have moved around alot, my children have seen five different doctors and they all have said that they are extremely healthy. On top of that, I am constantly reading, keeping up to date on vegetarianism. I have also been a veg. for 11 years. Thank you for your concern, though. Although, I must admit, I don't understand how a vegan diet can kill a 5 month old--at that age they are only on breastmilk or formula and infant cereal (maybe a few solids). It could have been the mother's diet effecting the fetus...of course there could have been drug use while pregnant that the mother did not want to reveal.

The reason I am looking for veggie playmates is so that my son knows that he is not alone. Food is so much a part of our lives, even though not everyone may realize it. It is something that connects us culturally, as well. He goes to friends' houses and sees what they eat and they come to our house and see what we eat. Our food is sometimes seem strange and weird to the friends, even though I try to find healthy equivelants. As he and his brother grow, it will become more and more important for them to be like their friends. A veggie friend will help with this. It isn't an absolute need, but it would be very positive if he could have at least one friend who loves tofu as much as him and whose dinners are not the typical ground beef hotdish type of meal. Its all a matter of having someone to relate to. We all have a drive to be with people that are like us, and this begins from the youngest age. Of course, add in the fact that we do not drink soda or any other kind of sugar water, any kind of massed produced chips except tortilla, don't buy anything (for the most part) with high-frutose corn syrup (or any kind of corn syrup if possible), packaged cookies, candy, most cereal, etc. and you can start to see the difference between our household and more mainstream households.
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Old 07-02-2008, 12:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by rheannad View Post
hi crazy me,
we are a vegetarian family also. My husband and i were veg several years before we met each other and are raising our 10 month old daughter as a vegetarian. It sounds like your kids are older than mine since you are asking for ideas on school lunches. Where do you live, is it a vegetarian friendly place? We use to live in seattle and bozeman montana, both of which are very vegen/veg friendly. Now we live in Pa, and I'd have to say its quite different here! Have you checked out any vegetarian societys in your area? They often have monthly potlucks and are a great way to meet like-minded people. If not, maybe you could start one. My husband did something similar to that when he was in college in Olympia Washington. Maybe you could invite your kids friends over for a vegetarian meal- that way it could expose their friends to the food, and make it more "accepting" to their friends. Good luck! I know it can be tough when people give you a hard time. I always get through that by telling myself what a positive impact I am having on my families health and the benefits to the environment!
My sons are 5 y.o. and 20 mo. He went to kindergarten-readiness last year, so I already have some lunch-packing experience under me, but I'm afraid his love of pb&j rules over lunch too often!

We currently live in SE Arizona and it is definately not veg-friendly! Although these days, healthy eating is starting to make a come back, so it is pretty easy to find groceries. And all the produce is wonderful (and the farmers' markets are good too). I last lived in the UP of MI in a very small town and our choices were very, very bad. However, I had lived in a slightly larger town an hour and half away a year previous and it was very veg-friendly (Marquette, MI). I guess most places I have lived, I have had a pretty good variety for grocery food and not too bad for eating out, but I have never lived around a lot of other veg. families. It hasn't been too big of a deal until the last year or so. Then my oldest started noticing. He will even go up to other kids and introduce himself by stating his name and then saying he is a vegetarian. I know he is hoping that someday the other child will say "me too" instead of "whats that?" I have looked for a veg. community around here, but the closest pme os Tucson, which is 80 miles away. They seem to meet once a month to go out to eat (in the evening), so it doesn't seem like it would be a good fit. I keep checking out people's grocery carts, though, in hopes that I see tofu or boca burgers in their cart!

I love the New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas but most of the recipes are very involved. She does have a small, but good section on What Children Eat. I also have Raising Vegetarian Children by Stepaniak and Melina. Its mostly informational with a few recipes at the back. I haven't read a lot of it, but its good because it is very detailed (without being boring) and goes from birth through the teenage years. I would definately suggest at least looking through it.

By the way, tofu is the perfect toddler food!!! My kids love it!
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Old 07-02-2008, 12:43 PM
 
Location: Chicago
2,467 posts, read 11,119,300 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyme4878 View Post
There is a huge difference between raising kids as vegetarian and vegan. It is extremely hard to raise them vegan and you must be very, very dedicated. It is much easier to raise them vegetarian if you include eggs and dairy because those items offer so much protein and fat. Because we have moved around alot, my children have seen five different doctors and they all have said that they are extremely healthy. On top of that, I am constantly reading, keeping up to date on vegetarianism. I have also been a veg. for 11 years. Thank you for your concern, though. Although, I must admit, I don't understand how a vegan diet can kill a 5 month old--at that age they are only on breastmilk or formula and infant cereal (maybe a few solids). It could have been the mother's diet effecting the fetus...of course there could have been drug use while pregnant that the mother did not want to reveal.

The reason I am looking for veggie playmates is so that my son knows that he is not alone. Food is so much a part of our lives, even though not everyone may realize it. It is something that connects us culturally, as well. He goes to friends' houses and sees what they eat and they come to our house and see what we eat. Our food is sometimes seem strange and weird to the friends, even though I try to find healthy equivelants. As he and his brother grow, it will become more and more important for them to be like their friends. A veggie friend will help with this. It isn't an absolute need, but it would be very positive if he could have at least one friend who loves tofu as much as him and whose dinners are not the typical ground beef hotdish type of meal. Its all a matter of having someone to relate to. We all have a drive to be with people that are like us, and this begins from the youngest age. Of course, add in the fact that we do not drink soda or any other kind of sugar water, any kind of massed produced chips except tortilla, don't buy anything (for the most part) with high-frutose corn syrup (or any kind of corn syrup if possible), packaged cookies, candy, most cereal, etc. and you can start to see the difference between our household and more mainstream households.
The mother had made her own version of "formula" which did not have the proper nutrients in it, which lead to poor brain development and then death (they tested the "formula" which was based off of a low-fat diet and kids need fat to grow). I am in NO way stating that this will happen to anyone, but you always need to make sure you are consulting a nutritionist. And yes, I realize the difference between being vegan and veggie, however, you mentioned both in your OP. I definitely understand the difference between your household and others, and I can understand the desire to have your child exposed to like-mided households, just as I'm sure, you won't limit your child's friends, based on this point. My boyfriend was vegetarian for 18 years (since birth), then in college, moved to being non-veg to explore and has gone back to veg recently. I think it was a bit different for him becuase he had the benefit of having a cultural group where vegetarian was prominent.
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Old 07-02-2008, 12:51 PM
 
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No, he has had many, many friends, none of which have been vegetarian. All the mothers have been very supportive, though, and are extra careful what they serve my son. I think its just silly that that mother "made" her own forumula! I have breastfed both my children, so I haven't shopped for forumula, but I know they make soy-based forumulas and I'm guessing somewhere out there is a totally vegan one. Although, why she didn't just breastfeed if she was that concerned, is beyond me (besides having difficulty latching on or milk supply issues; I know many women who work fulltime and express/nurse--I'm not saying everyone should do this, just that if this one unfortunate mother was so concerned about what her baby was eating, why wouldn't she do this?).
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Old 07-02-2008, 05:10 PM
 
Location: Camberville
11,395 posts, read 15,995,267 times
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I used to eat tofu and boca burgers all the time and I'm not vegetarian, so looking in carts isn't going to help! :P However, watch it with the soy... it's really not all that good for you. I had several nutritionists come down on me hard for eating tofu every other day and having soymilk every day. It's alright in smaller amounts, but shouldn't be an every day, several times a day thing. Beans and quinoa are better for a main source of protein.

One thing I would suggest is to not label things so much as "vegetarian". Especially with kids over- just serve it! They won't miss the meat. However, if you make a big deal about how it's vegetarian, it could be a turn off. All my dinner parties have been vegetarian and often gluten, soy, and dairy free, but I don't need to tell any of my high school and now college friends that. Sometimes just putting that into people's heads- regardless of the age- can turn them off to it. Too many people see vegetarian food as just a mound of salad when in reality, it's anything that does not have meat in it (with compensation for protein of course).
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Old 07-02-2008, 07:20 PM
 
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Good advice--I already follow all of it! We make a concerted effort in limiting soy because it is simply in everything (even a lot of nonveg stuff), and it is one of the most highly-sprayed crops (and over planted), so we try to only buy organic when we can. Quorn is a great brand out of Germany (I think) that makes convenience foods, but it is based on fungi. There is some soy in it, though. My husband prefers the texture to other soy-based foods.
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Old 07-02-2008, 08:00 PM
 
Location: in pa, but missin montana
65 posts, read 267,803 times
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Hi, thank you for the cookbook suggestions- I will defiently try the raising children vegetarian cookbook- I also have the anna thomas cookbook and agree that it is way to complicated! I love all the moosewood cookbooks, and any cookbook by Madhur Gaffrey, they never let me down! I am sure you try to limit sweets for your kids, but there is a great book called "sinfully vegan" it veganizes all desserts-yum! but some recipes can get complicated.
Have you ever tried making smoked almond butter? we buy almond butter and add smoked flavoring to it, (or Lapsang Souchong tea) to give it a smoke taste. You can spread it on toasted bread, add tomatoes and lettuce for a "blt" like effect.
I really do understand why you want your kids to meet other vegetarians. it can be rough to be different than other people- even for adults! Food is also a huge part of our lives. Being a vegetarian is about more than what you put in your mouth, it really is a philosophy. Good Luck! I know you will meet some veggies in your area- they are out there!
P.S. I look in peoples carts too! ha
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