Your kid comes home and says "I am never eating animals again." What do you do? Do you give them the "This is my house, you'll eat what I serve," line? Or do you try to be supportive?
The first thing you should do is congratulate yourself on raising a compassionate, intelligent child. They have made a connection--a connection between what they eat and how they feel. This is beautiful!
Rather than squash their enthusiasm or feel like your cooking skills are being questioned, I suggest a compromise. Let them be a vegetarian or a vegan, but you both have to learn about nutrition. They can't live on peanut butter sandwiches and crackers, just like you don't need to eat "protein" at every meal (I put this in quotes because there is protein in everything. Even a potato has 1 gram! And most Americans are actually getting too much of it.)
Why not head to the library and pick up a few veg cookbooks to try?
Here are a few suggestions:
The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter's 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds by Rip Esselstyn - A great book with easy, tasty recipes even the carnivore's will love!
PETA's Vegan College Cookbook: 275 Easy, Cheap, and Delicious Recipes to Keep You Vegan at School - A fun and "young" take on vegan eating on the cheap.
You may want to watch some films like Forks Over Knives (http://www.forksoverknives.com/ ) Vegucated (http://www.getvegucated.com/ )or Food Inc for real information about where our food comes from and what we really need to eat to be healthy. You may be surprised about your own food choices and want to make some changes yourself.
Finally, think about all of the things you already make that are vegetarian or just need a few modifications.
- Spaghetti, just leave out the meat.
- vegetable side dishes
- salad - the more greens the better!
- rice and beans
The truth is, there are lots of veg friendly foods that you already eat. You simply need to open yourself to noticing them. Your child may be going through a phase, or be radically changing their habits. Either way, why not choose your battles? You can fight, or you can strengthen your relationship.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.