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 Post subject: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 9:41 pm 
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I'm guessing there are threads like this already, but I need to open up. My husband and I came to a compromise before Vivian was born that we would raise her vegetarian (I am vegan, he is omni). She is 11 months now and we have been introducing her to more and more finger foods. She loves green beans and carrots, mandarin oranges, peaches, bananas, and avocado. She drinks a couple of ounces of almond milk with one of her meals. She gets three bottles of breast milk a day and nurses before bed and in the morning. All of this sounds good but I get concerns from family and doctors about my choices for her. I'm concerned too that she won't get all the nutrition she needs even though I see her thriving. Here I am a vegan for 5 years, vegetarian for 15 years prior to that and I'm concerned she won't get enough protein. Yes, the protein question! I sometimes mix quinoa or lentils in her pureed food but she won't be on pureed food much longer. She refuses eggs and doesn't seem to like cheese. How can I feel more confident in my choices for her and how can I defend them to others? God forbid she ends up with some sort of "deficiency" and it will be my fault. My dad says he can't wait until she's old enough so he can take her to McDonalds!!!


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 9:58 pm 
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Honestly, if she's getting the breast milk and the stuff you list, she's probably good. The one thing is good ol' Vitamin B12, so maybe get some fortified nooch and mix that in, or something like that.

We have 2 kids who we are raising mostly vegan (the big one now refuses cow cheese and cow milk, even when offered it at school or elsewhere, but since I'm vegetarian and C&S is vegan, we're going with 'vegan at home; vegetarian when we eat out but probably vegan'). We have fed them a diet comparable to what you describe, and the one grew INCREDIBLY FAST and was a super fat little sausage baby up until he hit 2, and now he's a solidly average 4-year-old with lots of energy. Our doctor has zero worries about either him or his little brother.

They both like tofu (even plain, raw tofu-- go figure) so they get plenty of protein from that.

It sounds to me (not a professional!) like you're doing okay. You might have to do a bit of research or find a veg-friendly nutritionist to support you. And it might be good to find a nice way to veto McD's in general, not just because of meaty stuff, but I don't think I can help you with that... :/

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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:45 pm 
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When I nannied for kids that age who weren't vegetarian they barely ate any high-protein foods either. Fortunately, small kids don't need a ton of protein and from all my nanny experience I have surmised that 85% of the average baby/toddler diet is crackers. The rest is mostly play-doh.

I'm sure you've read this, but just in case, here's the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position paper...http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8357

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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:28 am 
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Protein is so not the thing to worry about! If you are really worried, the simplest thing is to switch to soy milk and eventually wean from breast milk to soy milk. In two cups of soy milk a day, my 2.5 year old surpasses her protein requirements for the day, and of course she also eats food! Protein is not at all the big deal for toddlers. Fat might be an issue, and generally getting calories I might be an issue depending on your kid (it is an issue for my kid, even though she always gets her protein in). And then it is a really simple thing to just have your kid on a multivitamin, which around here is recommended to all children over 6 months, regardless of diet, specifically because young children are picky eaters who might not eat a variety of veggies. All the multis I've seen contain b12 and vitamin d, which are the main problem areas in vegan diets anyway.

It sounds like your problem might be more about social stuff (other people causing you to doubt yourself) than anything else, because you probably already intellectually know everything I wrote above pretty well. There is a whole community of thriving vegan and vegetarian children on here. And all the non vegetarian toddlers who eat nothing but crackers and Cheerios and apple sauce packets are probably good evidence that they're not all that fragile anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:32 am 
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Also, just get a new doctor. This is not something you should be getting grief about, especially since you're already feeding your kid a better diet than 90% of the kids they see. A pediatrician distressed about a child eating vegetables is not the pediatrician you want. I have literally never had a healthcare provider bat an eye over my veganism or my daughter's, including the MD she's seen who started her career as an RD.


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:01 am 
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I second seeing a nutritionist, even though I agree kiddo's diet sounds healthy. It will put your mind at ease, and then you'll have a canned response for social pressure. "We saw a nutritionist, and she thinks we're doing great!"

And just anecdotally, my niece and nephew are being raised as omnivores, and they were eating about the same things as your kid at that age.


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:31 pm 
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I third the nutritionist.


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:16 pm 
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i think it's worth mentioning that Dr's get almost no training on nutrition in med school.
and any info they do get on nutrition is probably courtesy of like the dairy council and the like.

i agree with the folks saying that you're feeding her a way better more healthy and nutritionally rounder diet than what most omni kids eat.
just because she's veg doesnt mean she's eating french fries for every meal.

if you're worried about her protein intake keep a log for awhile and write out what she's actually getting each day. that might help alleviate your fears and maybe see where you have room for improvement.

also if you need to sort of scare yourself off the idea of thinking like chicken or something is good for her im in the middle of reading Food Revolution by John Robbins. i mean it goes over the obvious cruelty aspects of factory farming but it also goes into detail about how disgustingly filthy meat is.

your situation sounds similar to mine in that i am vegan and husband is omni and we agreed to raise BabyPunk vegetarian.
she's 9 months old and is so unimpressed with solid foods and ive been trying to think of things to give her that she might magically like. a couple times i almost tried to give her the plain, unsweetened dairy yogurt i have in the fridge for the dogs and i like couldnt do it ;-) even though i said we would raise her vegetarian rather than vegan i like couldnt bring myself to open the dairy yogurt ;-)
she will probably be vegan at home and vegetarian out in the world.

i lack the confidence to raise her vegan. im not a good advocate for anything and for me i would rather her have a regular cupcake made with eggs and butter at a birthday party than not. im sure everyone has a diferent opinion on that but at the end of the day that's how i feel and it sounds like you are dealing with some similar issues. for me personally there's nothing that would make me think animal flesh is ok for my child but if she has a limited amount of dairy out in the world im not gonna stress about it and when she's old enough i will teach her about meat and dairy and let her make her own decisions.

you may find for your life it's easier to feed her vegetarian at home but if grandpa serves her chicken nuggets once in a blue moon it's not a tragedy.
i think whatever you decide is what is best for your family.

nutritionally speaking though if you feel you need more confidence i fourth the idea of a nutritionist or dietician.

i wonder if the book Vegan for Life has a section on toddlers/kids. if i remember ill grab my copy and look.

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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:28 pm 
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I get criticism from family about my son's diet, which is frustrating. I'm also raising him vegetarian as a kind of compromise. I think it would be a good idea, as people have already said, to go and see a doctor or nutritionist who is veg-friendly, if anything just to put your mind at rest. My son is nearly 4 and he seems to be doing just fine. He probably eats a better diet than a lot of kids too. He loves pretty much any fruit and vegetable, lentils, beans, etc. He eats mostly vegan at home, and vegetarian when other people have him.


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:32 pm 
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LisaPunk wrote:

i wonder if the book Vegan for Life has a section on toddlers/kids. if i remember ill grab my copy and look.

It does. Including sample diets and listing of how much protein (and other things) a kid needs. It's a small amount the first few years.


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:55 pm 
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I second Ariann's suggestion of soy milk and third the suggestion of an RD or at least reading a bit more yourself so you can feel confident in your choices.

I really do think that the biggest sanity saver as a parent is to stop listening to other people. I have a few people and sources that I go to for advice, but I don't take advice from anyone else, because I would go crazy if I did. There is a mom I know who jumps on every food related bandwagon - OMG Caffeine is bad! GMOs are bad! Microwaves are bad! Gluten is bad! Soy is bad! Carageenan is bad! I just can't put that much energy into food. I trust my own sense that L is thriving and happy and hitting all the right milestones, so I must be doing something right. The only person who has any input in parenting L is her Dad. No one else gets any information on our choices, because they are not up for discussion. Even if they ask.

You can only control so much though, and I am a big fan of giving up what I cannot control - so L eats whatever she wants at playdates or if she goes out with her Dad etc. So I agree with LP that if you want to be able to leave your daughter with your Dad, then you could just be fine with him giving her nuggets. It doesn't sound like they are open to changing their food beliefs, so you could talk to them until you're blue in the face and would just be a waste of your breath. I will admit that I wouldn't leave L with anyone who didn't respect me and my choices for our child, so I would probably just not leave my kid alone with anyone who threatened to give them McDonalds.

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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 2:07 pm 
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I would also like to say that small kids don't need that much protein. Like Ariann said, 2 cups of milk or soymilk and you've got it covered. When my daughter was 11 months she ate pretty similar. She got her protein from formula.
It must be really hard to fight against all those sceptical people around you. Do what you think is right and don't let them get to you. If I was in your situation I would probably also see a nutritionist or read a couple of books on vegan/vegetarian nutrition for kids. Maybe that will help you feel more confident. It definitely helped me a lot because we are also the only ones around here who raise a vegetarian child.
If I get sceptical questions aimed at my daughter's nutrition I usually play smartypants and bombard people with some facts I got out of those books. That makes them shut up pretty fast.


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:41 pm 
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Tofulish wrote:
I will admit that I wouldn't leave L with anyone who didn't respect me and my choices for our child, so I would probably just not leave my kid alone with anyone who threatened to give them McDonalds.


Yes, this times a million.

My husband is vegan at home and, hmm, let's say "flexitarian" outside the home - primarily out of laziness rather than ideology. Most of our families are typical eaters. NONE of them would dare consider feeding our daughter something non-vegan. We feel totally comfortable leaving her overnight with my super non-veg in-laws because we know she will be fed vegan food (and generally healthy vegan food to boot). Why would they challenge a strongly held conviction of their grandchild's mother (even if their own son is a little confusing in his eating habits)? It simply wouldn't cross their minds. Why? Because they *love* and *respect* me. And also because they know, at the end of the day, I'm in charge of whether they see her or not, and they are super appreciative of the fact that they get to see her practically whenever they want.

On the other hand, we are constantly at gatherings where non-vegetarian food is available, but even more so where all of the goodies are filled with dairy and eggs. Malka has definitely eaten non-vegan desserts at these functions (we pretty much always bring our own savory food, because there is danger of her eating nothing at all out of spite and pickiness), because my choice is between a) depriving her when she doesn't understand the issue and creating an epic meltdown or b) giving in to the occasional little thing she's only going to take two bites out of anyway or c) always carting around emergency sweets, which she'll reject anyway because they're not identical to the sweets on offer around her and we're back to a). Occasionally allowing for fuck-ups like that doesn't really ruffle my feathers too much. She doesn't get that there is animal suffering in those cupcakes. She just gets that they're chocolate. I haven't saved any animals by not allowing her to lick all the frosting off it (and throw the rest on the ground, because let's get real). Eventually she'll get it and we can be a little firmer about these kinds of things. But that decision needs to remain in my purview, and can't be subject to the whims and desires of our relatives and other community members.


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:20 pm 
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My daughter has sensory processing problems, and as a result went through an extremely picky eating phase. And I don't mean normal kid picky, or even pretty stubborn kid picky, I mean needs the help of specialists picky. So anyway, we actually saw the feeding team at Children's hospital, and they gave a vegetarian diet the stamp of approval. They didn't even bat an eye, or ask any probing questions, or bring up the word protein. They were actually pretty happy and said that despite her pickyness, my daughter still ate healthier than most kids in America, and that was probably because we are veg. So I figure if those people who are not only experts in feeding but in feeding children gave me the thumbs up, everyone else can suck it.


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:20 pm 
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Ariann wrote:
Tofulish wrote:
I will admit that I wouldn't leave L with anyone who didn't respect me and my choices for our child, so I would probably just not leave my kid alone with anyone who threatened to give them McDonalds.


Yes, this times a million.

My husband is vegan at home and, hmm, let's say "flexitarian" outside the home - primarily out of laziness rather than ideology. Most of our families are typical eaters. NONE of them would dare consider feeding our daughter something non-vegan. We feel totally comfortable leaving her overnight with my super non-veg in-laws because we know she will be fed vegan food (and generally healthy vegan food to boot). Why would they challenge a strongly held conviction of their grandchild's mother (even if their own son is a little confusing in his eating habits)? It simply wouldn't cross their minds. Why? Because they *love* and *respect* me. And also because they know, at the end of the day, I'm in charge of whether they see her or not, and they are super appreciative of the fact that they get to see her practically whenever they want.

On the other hand, we are constantly at gatherings where non-vegetarian food is available, but even more so where all of the goodies are filled with dairy and eggs. Malka has definitely eaten non-vegan desserts at these functions (we pretty much always bring our own savory food, because there is danger of her eating nothing at all out of spite and pickiness), because my choice is between a) depriving her when she doesn't understand the issue and creating an epic meltdown or b) giving in to the occasional little thing she's only going to take two bites out of anyway or c) always carting around emergency sweets, which she'll reject anyway because they're not identical to the sweets on offer around her and we're back to a). Occasionally allowing for fuck-ups like that doesn't really ruffle my feathers too much. She doesn't get that there is animal suffering in those cupcakes. She just gets that they're chocolate. I haven't saved any animals by not allowing her to lick all the frosting off it (and throw the rest on the ground, because let's get real). Eventually she'll get it and we can be a little firmer about these kinds of things. But that decision needs to remain in my purview, and can't be subject to the whims and desires of our relatives and other community members.


all this x a million.

our home is primarily vegan because i do all the shopping and all the cooking.
i keep dairy yogurt and regular pizza for my husband who eats whatever you put in front of him because that is way easier than like making decisions and thinking about stuff.

if he goes out to lunch during the work day he most likely would get chicken or turkey or maybe tuna fish.

he doesnt eat beef or pork anymore though if he was somewhere where that's all there was he would probably eat it.
for example when he's traveled to TX on business and had business dinners with dudes who like shooting things and eating steak he will probably eat steak rather than raise eyebrows.

and i agree about the non vegan treats and that's kind of my whole thought process about not denying her regular baked goods when the time comes though i also personally understand people who would only awnt to give their kids vegan treats.
for me it's just too much stress and anxiety over food.

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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:54 pm 
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I just want to point out that at 11 months, your daughter is eating all the stuff you give her and doing really well. But most kids go through a picky stage - my daughter would eat anything you put in front of her for the longest time, but now is really choosy about what she'll eat and its really easy to feel insecure about that. I would urge you to get comfortable with your decisions now, because once she gets a wee bit picky, its going to be even harder to withstand the pressure.

DEG, that sounds really frustrating. So glad you were able to get support and reassurance!

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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:04 pm 
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Tofulish wrote:
I just want to point out that at 11 months, your daughter is eating all the stuff you give her and doing really well. But most kids go through a picky stage - my daughter would eat anything you put in front of her for the longest time, but now is really choosy about what she'll eat and its really easy to feel insecure about that. I would urge you to get comfortable with your decisions now, because once she gets a wee bit picky, its going to be even harder to withstand the pressure.

DEG, that sounds really frustrating. So glad you were able to get support and reassurance!


This is really good advice. We're entering the picky stage now after months of Phineas happily eating whatever we fed him and it's frustrating and a little scary. I've found the book Raising Vegetarian Children to be pretty helpful.

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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:05 pm 
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(Seriously, picky eating kids' folks, read the blog it's not about the nutrition, then read her book, it's not about the broccoli, you will thank me.)


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:21 am 
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Thank you for all your insight and advice. Sorry for the delayed response it is hard to get time at the computer! Vivian is taking a multivitamin that the doctor only recommended when she found out I was vegan. However I think it is best for her to take it anyway. I don't give her much soy because I thought you were supposed to wait until they were a year old. She has had tofu twice and loved it. I just sprinkle it with a little nooch. She eats iron fortified cereal and various fruits and veggies. I think she is doing fine. She is growing and hitting all her milestones. It is others that make me doubt myself. I think my dad just likes to say things that he knows will get a reaction from me. I trust that my mom will keep my dad in line.
Lisa, I had the same reaction when the time came to give her some milk in a sippy cup. I just couldn't bring myself to give her cow's milk. But she really likes the almond milk and I make sure I tell people that it has even more calcium than dairy.
Thanks again.


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 4:56 pm 
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Ditto to all the wonderful advice given above. I wholeheartedly second strawberryrock's statement too, about omni kids not generally being protein freaks either. Fruit and bread, all the way, seems to be the standard diet for many.

Some ways to build up your confidence perhaps:

Get a good book about vegan nutrition. Ginny Messina's Vegan for Life has been very helpful for us! She (and Jack Norris too, I think) has a website where you can hunt further for info on children's needs and even ask questions.

Use a site like FitDay or similar to spot-check a few of V's days, dietary wise. Even if you find some gaps (like Freya never gets enough iodine, for instance)...then you'll know and can work on how to fill those needs.

Read about and look at pictures of the amazing babies and children here at PPK. Clearly, my tall, chubby baby who was screaming "I running around! I running around!" while tearing down the hallway naked before her bath...is suffering from a lack of protein. :p

Are there any real-life veg groups nearby? I've been pretty confident in feeding Freya as a vegan, but it was really nice to find another (mostly) vegan family last year.


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:46 pm 
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Alright. I was raised vegetarian from birth, later became vegan, never swayed, and I'm in my late 20s now, and I'm perfectly fine. The nutrition was never the problem. The stupid people around me, like the ones you now have around you were the problem.


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:54 pm 
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refinnej wrote:
Use a site like FitDay or similar to spot-check a few of V's days, dietary wise. Even if you find some gaps (like Freya never gets enough iodine, for instance)...then you'll know and can work on how to fill those needs.


Great idea! Do you have a reliable source of information for what they should be getting?

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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:10 pm 
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When I was doing my daycare dropoff today, the head teacher started chatting me up about how healthy my kids eat. And based on what I see the other kids at the daycare eating, most kids are eating a ton of processed food. While my kids are picky like any other kid, they do eat a lot more fruit and veggies and better variety than many kids. Nearly all of their teachers have commented on it. So if you are concerned about how others will perceive your daughter's diet, there is actually a chance they'll be impressed by how she eats.

I know a lot of people freak out and wonder how a vegetarian or vegan kid gets enough protein, but we've found things that our kids like. Of course they both like different things, and it was just a matter of trying a lot of different options until we found what they liked. My son could eat his weight in rice and beans; my daughter loves the 5 spice pressed tofu and the tofu puffs from the Asian market. They're both huge fans of yogurt and edamame. And sunflower butter (the daycare is nut free)

And to the relative who is determined to give your daughter a hamburger. We went to a birthday party a while back, and chicken nuggets were an option for the kids. We thought we'd use that occasion to let our kids try the chicken nuggets, but they wouldn't touch them!


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:54 pm 
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I feel like I should probably add that we didn't select chicken nuggets, but the party hostess served the kids a plate with chicken nuggets on them, and we decided to see what our kids would do with them. I feel a bit embarrassed that we let it come that close.


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 Post subject: Re: I'm not confident enough to raise my child vegetarian
PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 5:50 pm 
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Sunflower butter! I've never heard of that before.


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