It is common for children, on making the connection between the animals they adore and the food on their plates, to announce a decision to stop eating meat. Traditionally, such pronouncements have been met with concerned and discouraging words, if not outright forbiddance. Parental and societal indoctrination against vegetarianism is effective -- just a few percent of the population return to their childhood concerns and choose a vegetarian diet when they are in their own homes. How wonderful, therefore, to see a magazine that circulates to over 2 million homes with children, recommending that parents support attempts made by their offspring to adopt vegetarian diets. The July edition of Parenting Magazine has a story in it's "Ages" section, under "Ages 8-12," headed "Deciding to go veggie." (Page 156.) It is by Jacqueline Byrne. The story is accompanied by a picture of a baby chick in the hands of a child, with the caption, "How can we eat his mommy?'" The article is brief, so I will paste it below. Please send Parenting Magazine some positive feedback. Parenting takes letters at: firstname.lastname@example.org and says, "We would love to hear your thoughts about our articles or any questions you have. Letters, emails, and photos should include your name, address, and daytime and evening phone numbers. Letters may be edited for length and clarity."
Ages+Stages. Ages 8-12 D ECIDING TO GO VEGGIE
It wasn't really a big surprise to Beth Sweet of Melbourne, FL, when her 7-year-old daughter, Montana, announced she wanted to become a vegetarian . Trucks packed with chickens made routine trips past their home on their way to a slaughter-house. "Montana was very disturbed by the cages piled high and crammed with the chickens," Sweet says.
Montana isn't alone in feeling for the birds (and the cows, and the pigs). The preteen years are prime time for choosing to go vegetarian as a social cause or simply because the notion of eating dead animals suddenly seems gross. "Tweens are old enough to recognize animal suffering and young enough to want to do something about it," says Carol Adams, author of Help! My Child Stopped Eating Meat!
Not all moms and dads are happy to hear that their tween wants to give up meat. Often, they're concerned about nutrition--but plenty of parents feel a little rejected too. To get your tween on a healthy diet both of you can handle:
--Take her seriously.
Whether your daughter's a vegetarian for life or she changes her mind after a few weeks, the fact that she's making her own decisions right now is what's important. This is her way of voicing an opinion and taking a stand--two actions worth encouraging. Plus, listening to her will help you see that she's not just being fickle about your cooking.
--Figure out how to make it work--together. Spend time with her by learning how she can stay healthy and by choosing new meal options. Schedule a visit with a nutritionist who's an expert in vegetarianism, so she can hear from an objective source how essential it is to eat a balanced diet. You can even use her decision as a way to teach life skills: If she wants different meals, then she has to help shop, cook, and clean the extra dishes. --JACQUELINE BYRNE
H ere is the accompanying box story:
There are many ways your child can make up for lost protein and iron, nutrients often associated with meat.
For protein, tofu can replace meat in tacos and a lot of chicken recipes, for instance. Beans, nuts (or nut butters), and veggie burgers are also good supplements.
For iron, try fortified cereals, grains, legumes, and dried fruits.
If your child has also cut dairy out of her diet, make sure she takes a vitamin B12 supplement. And don't forget calcium: Leafy greens, calcium-set tofu, and fortified fruit juice are all good sources.
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