My 13 year old daughter wants to be a vegetarian. She is a dancer and very thin and very active. Also I am a very busy mum with 2 other daughter – 5 and 2, go to uni part time and work part time. I struggle to cook one meal for the family dinner, I’m not sure I could manage to do a vegetarian version for her. We eat 1 – 2 vegetarian meals a week. Does anyone have any ideas on how I can support her decision to stop eating meat whilst continuing to make sure she is getting the nutrients and iron she needs without having to cook 2 meals every night?

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  • I became vegetarian around age 11. I don’t think it’s a problem at all as long as you replace meat. Plenty of nuts, eggs, seeds, beans, lentils and vegetarian substitutes will prevent deficiencies

  • Ask a nutritionist for advice (you should be able to make an appointment for no cost through a hospital). And perhaps your daughter could take some responsibility for cooking a meal or two each week?

  • well if she is being a proper vegetarian she will probably end up eating alot more and will need guidance to make sure she is getting a proper healthy balance of nutrients. simply substituting meat for quorn like alot of people do is not enough. i recommend taking the journey with her in part as you may find you may get more energy and feel better for the diet change

  • Make her take some responsibility for making her own food. And talk to a dietician to guide you both in terms of nutrition.

  • I would suggest you see a dietician first to ensure your daughter is getting all the energy requirements from her diet

  • I think so, just keep an eye on her diet to make sure she’s getting all the nutrients she needs.

  • Yes absolutely ! I myself became a vegetarian when I was 11 years old and have never eaten meat or fish ever since, I’m now 55. In my family now I have 2 persons eating meat, 4 vegetarians, 2 gluten free and 1 diary free. You have to learn to cook efficiently. For example cook a sauce without meat, divide the sauce in batches, one part with meat one part with a vegetarian substitute. I promise it’s super easy !!

  • I also did not want ot meat at that stage so l say yes!

  • Absolutely, vegetarian diets are usually FAR MORE healthy than the meats and processed foods that we eat. If there is any family history of auto-immune disease then good doctors (who know about diet and disease) should be recommending she changes! And at 13 she is perfectly able to start cooking some of her own meals too… chop some vegetables, cook in microwave, stir with spices and you’re done; dry beans (for protein) can be soaked and cooked and stored in the fridge, then similar process. Also less likely to make herself sick if she doesn’t cook properly. Let her experiment and get herself healthy.

  • I would talk to a doctor about this . You mention she is a dancer and already thin . Sometimes if they start too young it will have a major impact on their future development . You may have be vigilant with always topping up with rich sources of iron elsewhere. Seek professional advice first as to me she is still in development stage and need extra nutrients .

  • Why not let her? It’ll take a little bit of research as you’ll need to make sure she’s eating the right foods and not missing out on any nutrients. Cook your normal meals and just don’t put meat on her plate, this would work most of the time. With a big of luck, it might just be a phase

  • There are so many alternatives these days. Things like flavoured tofu, sausages, Vege patties veges pastas etc
    Leave the meat out of things
    Fried rice (no bacon)
    If I’m cooking say hamburgers well mine will be a vege burger.
    If I’m cooking tacos then my alternative will be beans rather than mince.
    Curried sausages (Vege sausages)
    A BBQ all the salads and veg but a piece of bbq’d tofu or veg sausage.
    Try cooking more veg options lasagna or spinach & ricotta ravioli.
    If she’s eating alternative she will be fine.
    Include nuts beans legumes.

  • I don’t like to advise parents how to parent – just ensure she has beans, and eggs, protein filled veges (greens) and probably a supplement. Talk to your GP x

  • it is her choice. find meals online

  • Try to use other protein souces in your cooking instead of meat like tofu, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs and dairy if you use these as a basis then you might not have to cook 2 meals, alternatively get your daughter to cook on those dayscwhere meat is the key component of a meal, she could do a quick omlette or something

  • Vegetarians get heaps of benefits from their diet, proper nutrition is one of them..

  • Yes. I turned vegetarian at 13 and that was 25 years ago. Just support her and help her have a good diet still.

  • Allow her to do it. If she cooks her vegetarian meals herself or cook your meals with the meat in a separate pan and only add it after her food has been taken out

  • Toughie this one, but still, not a chance kiddo. When you are an 17/18, when you have finished with all the dancing(read lotsa exercise), and when your GP, your Gyno, and your dietitian & or nutritionist have examined you, and are all in agreement that that diet is ok at this time, then ok. Our 17y 4m daughter has wanted this for last 9 months. Not a chance said all the professionals including the Psychologist helping with her first eating disorder. Once that was sorted, we sat down and set a plan in motion. Now she is being weaned off red/white meats, and is getting an education on ‘how to’ do this properly. When she understand all the pro’s and con’s, and shows us a responsible attitude towards the matter, she will then have our full support. It is a good diet, but pending exactly ‘which’ of the 4 diets she adopts, it can be very risky especially as a dancer, or as with our daughter, an exercise freak. While their young bodies are demanding a very healthy diet, and still growing and still studying, they need real good food, and not bottle supplements and a fad idea that may not last.

  • You can research online which foods vegetarians need to eat to be healthy and include extras that are easy to prepare with the meal everyone else gets, like eggs are great for iron i think so you can boil eggs and serve with your main meal for an example. My 15 year old is a vegetarian.

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