When I first came-out as vegetarian, my mother cried. I sometimes like to pretend she was crying happy tears, knowing I was standing up for what I believed, when I know it was because she had prepared hamburgers for dinner. Within hours my mother was gathering information on every type of plant-based whole food diets, including fruitarianism, to ensure I would physically survive the 'phase'. I can only imagine her coworkers assumed I announced I had decided to dabble in 'anorexia'. But while my mother worried herself into the local grocery store, packing her cart full of anything she had read was rich in proteins, my father took a more subtle approach and tried his hand at vegetarian stew.
It was delicious. And a recipe I have not been able to duplicate.
Now, nearly seven years later, I am living on my own and am happy to report I have yet to wither away to nothingness- though it would be nice if the extra ten pounds I picked up over the winter did. I can only attribute my success maintaining a healthy lifestyle to the support of my family, and the questions they made me find answers to before taking me completely seriously.
Though I am finding more and more these days teenagers or tweenagers are deciding to go vegetarian or vegan because their favourite celebrities are. Or they simple adopt the lifestyle as a weight-management plan. According to one of my female friends her doctor recommended she try vegetarianism for a few months to help shed some weight. Fortunatley for me, my doctor (when I bother to visit him) just berates me for fifteen minutes about the dangers of being anemic and a vegetarian.
I've been telling him for years it is not my fault my parents screwed me up in utero.
I was suprised to learn vegetarianism (and veganism) are not taught widely in elementary school or high school health classes, they are often only touched upon [in depth] when brought up by a student. I made the decision after researching the ways animals are mass produced for food but I did not give a single thought to the dietary hazards I would face, I was a lazy twenty-year old. I assumed I could live off vegetables, grains and fruit.
And then began to wonder why I was exhausted and mentally-dense by one o'clock every day.
I would advise anyone who knows a friend with a child who wants to go vegetarian or vegan to help them understand the lifestyle. They teach them what they should be eating and what to avoid. I find many parents with a vegetarian son or daughter rely solely on soy products you can buy from the grocery store. Which is fine, in moderation but should not be relied on as the answer to properly maintaining a healthy diet.
I was lucky my parents were stringent about me understanding the benefits and the dangers of vegetarianism, to make sure I properly understand the health risks to being a 'lazy vegetarian'. I really believe parents believe their child has done their homework whether it be on their smartphone or computer and do not get involved for fear of coming across unaccepting or unsupportive.
We vegetarians and vegans are pretty opinionated and vocal when it comes to our beliefs, maybe we should also start with the newly-outed vegetarians- we certainly could use them to boost our numbers.
This woman explains 'How to Raise Vegetarian Children' - YAY!