My daughter recently decided to become vegetarian. She has always been a really picky eater so I am not sure how to give her a balanced healthy diet, and what foods to prepare.
No one else in the family has made this choice so I want to ensure she is being fed a balanced vegetarian diet but she is not anxious to try soy or tofu products. She is only 9 and I want to respect her wishes but she has to eat properly and supplement with good protein sources other than meat.
She loves fruit and vegetables and I have put seeds and nuts in her salads along with cheese (she will eat dairy products). What consists of a balanced healthy diet especially for a 9 year old picky eater? - A.A.
You're a great Mom to go along with your daughter, but still insist on proper vegetarian nutrition. I've had similiar letters, and it might be helpful to you to read a couple - they may give you some ideas on how to help her become vegetarian:
Going Veg With Six Year Old
Eleven Year Old Wants To Go Veg
Your situation is unusual in that your daughter is only 9, but that's just about the age to start learning about vegetarian nutrition and cooking. The more she participates in the process, and assumes responsibility for eating a balanced healthy diet, the better off she'll be as a vegetarian in the long term, and the more likely to stick with it. I'm not sure if that would be harder for you, or not - I always found it way more work to get my girls to do kitchen stuff than it was to do it myself. But they appreciate my efforts now!
Here are a few resources to help you feed your daughter a balanced healthy diet: I've attached three free SV reports for you: 10 Tips for Beginning Vegetarians, Vegetarian Nutrition, and Beans Without Gas. I also recommend Vesanto Melina's vegetarian nutrition manual 'The New Becoming Vegetarian', and Nava Atlas's 'Vegetarian Family Cookbook'. All these resources will be a big help to you in sorting out the vegetarian nutrition issues.
Your daughter doesn't have to eat tofu products, or other forms of soy if she'd rather not at this point - tofu is definitely an acquired taste. Beans and lentils are necessary as good protein sources, plus nuts and cheese, so she'll get enough protein.
She needs a variety of whole grains too, for the vitamins and minerals, as well as secondary protein sources. I don't know if she'll eat eggs, but you could try to sneak a few a week into her diet as one of her protein sources. Savvy Veg has quite a few bean recipes and tofu recipes, many of them kid friendly.
I also recommend a children's vitamin supplement. Rainbow Light makes a balanced food based kid's multivitamin. May I suggest that the rest of the family join in eating vegetarian dishes with your daughter as much as possible - it will help to keep her from becoming the odd one out, and improve all your diets.
Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian