Berkeley Parents Network >
I was wondering if anyone had advice about being a vegetarian
while pregnant. ie, how to get complete proteins and enough
vitamins. By being a vegetarian, I mean one who eats dairy, but
not meat of any kind, including seafood. Any advice? Thanks.
During my pregnancy with my daughter I ate an all vegetarian
(nearly vegan) diet and had no problems. As long as you aren't
a ''junk food'' vegetarian and eat well-balanced meals, you should
be fine. Pregnant women need additional food, so make you you
are adding nutritious extras to your diet and not consuming
empty calories. For a while to get additional protien and
calcium, I was making protein smoothy shakes with frozen bananas
and strawberries, soy milk and a scoop of protein powder (which
also had a lot of vitamins in addition to extra protein). And,
don't forget your prenatal vitamins too!
My daughter is perfectly healthy and is being raised as a
vegetarian with the blessing of her pediatrician. Good luck to
Veggie mom in Oakland
The book ''What to expect while you're expecting'' has what seems to me
pretty good advice in this department.
I am pregnant and am vegetarian. I think as long as you eat
healthy and don't eat lots of junk food, you are fine. I'd make
sure to take prenatal vitamins and perhaps some other vitamins
(check with your doctor first). Most people don't realize that
you only need to eat 300 more calories per day while pregnant -
that's like drinking two glasses of milk or something like
that. So, I wouldn't worry about your nutrition as long as you
are eating like a vegetarian - nuts, veggies, tofu, etc. Lots
of people say they are vegetarians but all they eat is pasta and
Congrats on your pregnancy!
I am a vegetarian who has two kids. I was vegan when pregnant
with my first child. I got a book by Dr. Michael Klapper (since
given away on this website!) on pregnancy and vegetarianism.
Very helpful, particularly for vegans(it has this protein
triangle that was very helpful; how to combine proteins to get
the highest amount possible). The goal was 70 grams of protein
per day. Given how much I was eating, I was not getting enough,
so I ended up drinking cows milk. Then it was NO problem. I was
not a vegan by the time I had my second, and quite frankly,
didn't think much about protein. I have a good diet and knew I
was getting plenty. So I think if you are not vegan and eat
well, you'll be fine. Especially if you are sure to drink a fair
bit of milk, or eat eggs fairly regularly.
As to vitamins, I took the std. prenatal vitamins, vegetarian
version of course!
BTW, my first doctor was not too supportive of my diet, but ended
up being amazed at how big and healthy my baby was and how quick
and easy my labor was (probably not related, but she did comment
on it!). Good luck! You can do it, easily....
I was a pregnant and then breastfeeding vegetarian, and never
had any problems. Just be sure to let your doctors know, in
case they have concerns or suggestions based on your individual
medical history (eg. I was often borderline anemic when I was
younger, back when I ate meat), and be sure to take the prenatal
vitamins w/iron (ask for the non-constipating ones--very
important!). Just try to eat sensibly and pay attention to your
cravings--your body will know what you need! The primary
concerns would be protein and iron, but if you eat dairy (esp.
yogurt and cheese), and take the vitamins you should be just
I am a vegetarian (plus eggs & dairy) with a 6 month old
son. I ate at least one egg a day, and a lot of beans&rice,
nuts/peanut butter, wheat gluten and soy products.
What I really want to pass along is some research that
indicates that eating a lot of soy while pregnant is linked
with certain minor birth defects. I only found this out after
my son was born with hypospadias & I was doing some web
searches on the defect. Here's a link with the info:
I was a vegetarian for 21 years and bore two children, both very
healthy. I think if you take your pre-natal vitamins and eat
healthily, your children will be fine. However, I do have to
caution you about your own health. After the births, I
developed severe health problems and it turned out vegetarianism
was a factor, much to my surprise!
When my second child was a few months old, I developed extreme
pain in my foot. After becoming unable to walk, and going to
many specialists who kept misdiagnosing me (reflex sympathetic
dystrophy, myofascial pain syndrome, etc. etc.), my GP suggested
a bone density test. It turned out I had SEVERE osteoporosis,
so much so that you could even see the translucency of my bones
on an X-ray (although you couldn't see an obvious fracture). My
bone density was off the scale on the low end. It turned out
that the pain in my foot was due to repeated fragility
fractures. In retrospect I was lucky I kept breaking my foot
(although it was very difficult to manage a newborn while on
crutches) because if I hadn't started treatment I could have
broken my hip or a vertebra in my spine with permanent
I was 40 and had none of the ordinary risk factors for
osteoporosis, but it turned out that there has been research
correlating vegetarianism with lower bone density. I thought I
had been eating a lot of calcium (dairy as well as veggies like
broccoli which are high in calcium) but I guess it just wasn't
enough, given the load pregnancy and breastfeeding was putting
on my body's calcium supply.
I believe the human body is genetically programmed to rob itself
to build and take care of the baby. The baby gets first dibs on
all the nutrients, whether unborn or breastfeeding! I even lost
a tooth to a cavity (and I NEVER had cavities growing up). That
should have been a warning sign.
I now recommend to all long-term vegetarian women that they get
bone density tests on a regular basis. Osteoporosis is ''the
silent disease.'' If I had been having checkups that included
bone density tests, I could have saved myself and my baby a lot
of pain and struggle, and saved a LOT of money in medical
bills! Insurance companies don't want to pay for the DEXA test
for bone density for younger women because it's expensive. If
you have to argue for it you can use my story... my insurance
company would have saved a lot of money if they had been more
willing to do preventive care. And, I always had believed that
a vegetarian diet was MORE healthy in every way that a meat diet
(I still believe it is in many ways). The diagnosis was a total
shock to me.
The good news is that I was able to start treatment in time. I
now take calcium supplements every day, and I eat meat at least
twice a week. My bone density is recovering (I am now back on
the chart, although still in the red zone) and I no longer have
to live in fear of falling like a 100-year-old woman. It's been
three years since the diagnosis, and although I'll probably
always have low bone density, I'm no longer in danger of having
my bones crumble away at the slightest provocation!
Please pass the word about getting a bone density test to other
long-term vegetarians, especially those with young children.
Most women won't have this problem, but a few will. And it
doesn't hurt to have a baseline bone density test done while
you're young. Then you have something to compare it with when
you go through menopause and the doctors start recommending you
So I would say, go ahead and continue with the vegetarian diet
during pregnancy, but take PLENTY of calcium supplements, and
make sure to get a DEXA test as soon as the baby is born. Don't
wait until you break a bone.
glad to be walking again
I've been reading the posts on this topic and I'm surprised that
this hadn't come up, so I thought I'd put my 2 cents in: I think
that there are certain vitamins that are very difficult to get
from a truly vegeterian diet (they may be B vitimins, I'm not
sure). In any case, this should be taken care of if you take a
good prenatal vitamin regularly. That being said, I was very sick
during my pregnancy with hyperemesis (until month 7) and hardly
ate anything for much of my pregnancy and my baby was (and is)
fine (robust, in fact!). In talking with a lot of moms with
hyperemesis (as well as my OB) the general consensus was that the
babies born out of these pregnancies do very well. What I learned
from this is that babies are hardy, and they generally do take
what they need from your reserves --but they *do* take it, and the
person that suffers from nutritional deficiencies first is you,
the mom. So take those vitamins and eat right and you'll feel
better and have a healthy baby and good post-partum!
A Nutritional Supplement Devotee
After being stunned and traumatized by seeing a segment
called ''Meet your Meat'' on B-TV a couple of weeks
ago, my husband and I are sudden vegetarians. I have
been a vegetarian during different periods of my life; my
husband never has been; and my teenage son doesn't like
the idea at all. My son and I were mostly vegetarian until his
stepdad and I got married 11 years ago; since then we've
been a real meat eating family, though I do cook vegetarian
meals as well.
The question is what will convince my son that he is eating
something that resembles meat closely enough? (I wouldn't
mind having my taste buds fooled as well.) I've seen the
various options at Whole Foods Market and Berkeley Bowl
and am wondering what folks favor. I'm interested in
substitutes for ground beef in chilis and casseroles;
substitutes for sausages; something to replace chicken
breasts served various ways and used in curries. Just tried
''Veggie Breakfast Links'' in a casserole where I would
normally use Polish sausage and, though there was not a
peep out of my son, they tasted pretty awful to me, totally
flavorless. I've used tofu quite a bit, so looking for
something beyond it.
I do have the fantastic vegetarian cookbook FIELD OF
GREENS. Now I'm looking for a REALLY GOOD vegan
cookbook as well. The ones I've looked at at Cody's had
recipes that seemed really bland and uninspiring. We're big
into flavor, heat and spice over here. Thanks for any help!
Don't know anything about meat substitutes, but I have a few
ideas on cookbooks. If you like Field of Greens, you might
also check out the Greens Cookbook and the Savory Way,
all by Deborah Madison. (In fact, I think there might be a 4th
one, too.) I cook from these 3 constantly, though I often
simplify the more complex recipes. For spicy vegetarian
foods, Madhur Jaffrey (sp?) has several terrific books with
international vegetarian recipes -- some exclusively Indian,
some from around the world. I am not a big fan of the
Moosewood cookbook, but some of the later books in the
Moosewood series have some terrific recipes. Also, Alice
Waters has a book of vegetable recipes. Maybe she has
two. I think the one we have is called Chez Panisse
Vegetables. I don't cook from it very frequently, but it's a great
I recently bought a vegan cookbook called The Now and Zen
Epicure, and it seems great, but I (who am NOT vegan) find
myself wanting to add butter, eggs or cheese to almost
every recipe. If you're interested, I'll give it to you, as it is not
being well used over here. Just send me an email.
Try the meatless meatballs - both the Trader Joe's brand and the
brand I found in Berkeley Bowl (which name escapes me right now)
are great -- they fooled my meat-loving father in law! I put them
As a long-time vegetarian with a meat-eating husband and
daughter, I cook only vegetarian food at home. There are many
good meat substitues available these days that my family likes.
Morningstar Farms ''grillers'' can be substituted for ground beef
in any recipe. I use them in everything from tacos to lasagna.
You can find them in Safeway as well as Whole foods, Berkeley
Bowl. Boca Burgers are probably the best tasting veggie burger
out there - they come in different flavors so you might try a
few and see which you like. You can find them in Costco as well
as regular grocery stores. Veat brand makes ''nuggets''
and ''bites'' that are decent tasting chicken substitutes and are
great in stirfry. I've found them in Safeway and Berkeley
Bowl. Yves brand deli slices and soy cheese are decent tasting
compared to some of the other brands I've tried (although my
husband does not think they taste like the real thing). Things
like seitan (wheat gluten), tempeh and tofu can be good sources
of protein and will taste great when cooked right.
One of my favorite (ie. easy) cookbooks: ''366 Healthful Ways to
Cook Tofu and Other Meat Alternatives'' by Robin Robertson.
Congratulations on your decision to go vegetarian!
I'm a huge fan of fake meat products. I've been a vegetarian for
well over a decade, however, so I'll just recommend the fake meats
that my husband (a meat eater) likes. The entire line of fake
meats by Yves gets a big thumbs up 'round these parts. They make a
great fake ground beef, really good once seasoned up for tacos,
thrown into pasta sauce, etc. I like all of their fake lunch
meats, but my hubby thinks that the salami is the best.He likes
their sausage, too. My favorite ersatz lunch meat is by Wildwood
tofu, I think it's called Soyful Choice. We've just started using
a fake bacon by, I think, Healthy Choice (it's whatever fake bacon
they have in the prepared tofu section at Berkekley Bowl). It
really needs to be cooked pretty carefully, though, or it can be
too chewy. I've tried a fake sausage from Berkeley Bowl that is in
the area on the other side of the eggs. It's in a package w/
Italian flag colors and it has a great texture, but was way too
spicy for my taste (so you might like it).
When I was a vegan I used American Vegetarian Cooking From The Fit
For Life Kitchen by Marilyn Diamond a lot. It has good recipes for
stuff like tofu scramble and vegan mayo.
We like Boca Burgers and find them to be fairly close to tasting like meat. They have a variety of them these days. Our daughter particularly likes the chicken burgers. I like the cheeseburgers. Morningstar has a variety of non-meat meat-like items. We use their ''chik'n'' nuggets for our daughter. We also recently tried the vegetarian chili from Trader Joe's and it was quite tasty.
Good for you for choosing to eat healthy and responsibly!
Regarding tasty vegetarian meals and meat substitutes, I would
suggest going vegetarian before going vegan. It is alot easier
to cook and more satisfying! A little cheese goes a long way in
regards to flavor! I missed bacon-flavor for a long time after
quitting meat but discovered smoked cheeses did the trick. I
eat egg and dairy products and occasionally fish, so I'm
technically not vegetarian. One good alternate to tofu is So
Soya -- a soy product I found at Trader Joe's. It is good for
stir fry, fried rice, etc. It is dried soy that needs to be
soaked in hot water before adding to your recipe. The secret is
to use veggie broth or add tamari, teriyaki sauce, etc. to the
hot water so it absorbs flavor along with moisture. This works
for the texturized veggie protein that you can buy in bulk
also. For chili, I just use beans and add bulgur wheat for the
texture and added nutrients. In spaghetti sauce, I found that
anise seed ground fresh with a mortar and pestle replaced some
of the taste of Italian sausage. I'm not that fond of most meat
substitutes - I threw away some ''veggie sausage'' recently, but I
have enjoyed some of the frozen chicken patties for sandwiches.
We also like Trader Joe's buffalo wings and chicken-less
nuggets. Good luck!
Just use you own recipes, but substitute Yves Veggie Ground
Round for cooked ground beef (it's crumbly), Lightlife
Gimmelean for ''raw'' ground beef (it can be shaped) and
Lightlife Smart Menu chicken strips for cooked chicken strips
(good in stir fry, thai curries etc.). I think Smart Dogs are
the best veggie dogs. Trader Joe's has all these for cheaper
than the supermarket. Costco has Boca Burgers (rated best in
Consumer Reports a year or so back) and Gardenburgers (but
Gardenburgers contain cheese). Textured Vegetable Protien (TVP)
stands in for ground beef in chili, etc. but has no flavor of
its own so you must increase your other seasonings. Also try
bulgur wheat. The bottom line is, you can use your familiar
recipes with meat substitues (as long as meat isn't the main
ingredient, such as a roast) while you transition to a vegan
way of life, or even permanently. The vegan cookbook is use
most is the New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook (try the tamales and
pancake recipes). But truthfully, I usually use mainstream
cookbooks, using meat substitutes as necessary. And we do not
refuse meat-eating friends' hospitality (but most people around
here provide vegetarian dishes too anyways). And (big
confession here) we eat eggs. Not a lot, but we do use them for
baking and the occasional breakfast. May I give two other words
of advice? Look into sourdough cookery. It's fun and like
having a pet. Starter is sold at Andronicos and probably other
places. Watch for hydrogenated oil in food you buy.
I wish you the best
We like most of the Yves products. Their bologna pretty much
resembles the ''real' thing. I've used their ground beef
substitute as well in sloppy joes, chili, and spaghetti sauce.
I've used other ground beef substitutes and pretty much like
most. We also like Boca burgers. There's a line of products
called Veat that are pretty good - I recommend you try a variety
to see if any work for you.
I can't comment on cookbooks, but as far as meat substitutes, we
eat Yves' Veggie Ground Round quite a bit, and love it. We put it
in just about anything in which you'd put real meat (spaghetti
sauce, burritos, shepherd's pie, etc.). I like the texture a lot.
It's cheaper at Trader Joe's; I buy several packages there and
freeze them. Happy cooking!
I like the ''chicken'' Veat to stir-fry with vegetables and Asian
spices. The makers of Boca-burgers have a whole new line of meat
substitutes, including an Italian sausage that is much more
flavorful than the bland breakfast ''sausages''. There is a spicy
soy chorizo--soy-rizo?--that is good in Mexican cooking. A fun
vegan cookbook that even reluctant teens might appreciate is *How
it all Vegan* by Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer. Some near-vegan
cookbooks you might want to check out: Lorna Sass's *Complete
Vegetarian Kitchen* and *The New Soy Cookbook*, and *This Can't
Be Tofu* by Deborah Madison (founding chef of Greens). If you
get tired of cooking, a fun restaurant for fake-meat afficionados
is Ambrosia Garden on San Pablo Avenue near Solano Avenue. And
the relatively new vegan Japanese restaurant on Shattuck--I think
it is called Chaya?--is excellent.
Congratulations on your decision! I'm not a great cook, so I
won't try to recommend cookbooks, but I can tell you which
veggie foods I like. I like Amy's Pot Pies (I get the non-dairy
vegetable pot pie because my son is allergic to dairy, but the
dairy ones taste a little better)--my husband and son, who eat
chicken and fish, like the pot pies a lot too. Probably all the
Amy's products are good, but I haven't tried the others. They
have them at Whole Foods and Berkeley Bowl. For bacon, I like
the Morningstar Farms breakfast strips, cooked in the oven. I
have served them to real-bacon eaters with mixed reactions.
Most veggie dogs are pretty good--we use Yves brand. I
recommend boiling veggie dogs, as they get wierd on the grill.
For chicken, the morningstar farms nuggets and chik patties are
good. I have never tried any faux-sausage products because I
never liked real sausage. I have been vegetarian for almost 20
years, so I am at a point where I actually do not want my food
to taste like the real thing, but I remember how in the
beginning I did want to replicate the taste. Boca Burgers, to
me, taste way too real, so you may want to try those! Garden
Burgers are yummy, but taste and feel nothing like a real
burger. I also used Nature's Burger mix in the early days for
ground ''beef'' in spaghetti sauce, though I think it would taste
too real to me today. I also recently discovered
Veggetinos ''meatballs'' in Safeway, and thought they were pretty
good. It's definitely to your advantage that you like things
spicy, because you can hide a lot that way, and hopefully your
son won't notice or won't miss the meat. For Chinese Food, try
the Great Wall restaurant on College Ave. The fake chicken is
good, though I have not tried the fake beef or pork because I
wouldn't want those. Oh yeah, there was one other brand that
tasted and felt too real to me--Veat. They make pork-like bits
and chicken, and I think they are at Whole Foods. Trader Joe's
may have some decent stuff too.
Good luck! You will eventually lose a taste for most meats, but
I know it's hard in the beginning. Just be thankful you live
here--it was not so easy doing it in Connecticut 20 years ago!
I'm not a vegan, nor a vegetarian (though I only buy meat and
dairy that come from reliably humane and organic sources). I
used to be a vegetarian, before I met my meat-loving man,
though, and I still love to cook vegetarian and vegan meals. My
favorite cookbook to this end is Deborah Madison's Vegetarian
Cooking For Everyone, which even my husband the carnivore now
calls ''the Bible.'' However, some of the meals really are time
consuming to prepare, so I also like the Moosewood Cooks at
Home, which is full of super-quick recipies, all nutritious and
some stunningly yummy (try the six-minute chocolate cake: vegan
and delicious). I don't like meat substitutes myself, but
marinated and pan-fried tofu can be very tasty in its own
right. I've found the website, cooking.com a very good source
of recipies, and you can specify vegetarian or vegan, I believe.
My kids like Yves vegie-dogs (only the smaller size, NOT
the ''Jumbo'' ones). They may not tast like ''real'' hot dogs, but
they do taste good. Another idea I use all the time - freeze
tofu, then let it thaw and squeeze out the water (it will be
like squeezing out a sponge). Freezing changes the texture
from mushy to crumbly, a lot like the consistency of ground
beef if used in pasta sauce, chili, etc.
Also - most imitation meats are made from soy, which is often
genetically modified(GMO). If this concerns you, be sure to
check the label, or call the manufacturer. Organic soybeans
cannot be GMO. Yves claims they does not use GMO soy, although
it is not organic.
I'm a long time strict vegetarian married to an enthusiastic meat-eater. So
far, our 15 month old son is vegetarian, but my husband is itching to share
with him the foods that he enjoys. We're trying to work out a compromise
for our son's diet that takes into account both his desire to share these foods
and my reservations about our son eating meat (primarily the
antibiotics/hormones/health issues). We'd love to hear from anyone who's
dealt with a similar situation. Thanks!
We too are a half vegetarian household. I am vegetarian by choice, but
would not make anyone vegetarianism if they didn't want to..it is a
choice...hense my pick for a husband. My husband and I made a pact long
before we had children that we would let our children decide as I did. We
have a 21 month old son that loves tofu and meat as well. He only drinks
soy milk and hates cow milk with a passion. His choices differ everyday,
and he experiments with different foods all the time. I really think that
if he decides later that he doesn't like meat, it will be his choice. I
have noticed things that we don't let him have, he wants even more and when
he gets them those become his favorite. We allow him small amounts of just
about anything now that he is over a year, and he has already made decisions
of what he likes and dislikes. Life is filled with many wonderful things,
let your children try things, it is amazing as long as there are good role
models, they follow in your
footsteps (literally and figuritively).
a veggie mom by choice
I also have a carnivore for a husband, and am a vegetarian (I do eat eggs
and dairy though). I decided when my eldest was born, to let her personal
tastes dictate whether she ate meat or not. The oldest has never liked red
meat but will eat chicken and some fish. My youngest loves bacon, hot dogs,
steak, eggs, and chicken. We have meat probably once a week, if it is
chicken they both eat it, if red meat, only one will enjoy it with her dad.
of course this means that there are many meals where there is a veg option
and meat option. forturnately my husband loves to cook and this is not a
problem. re: the hormone situation: we only buy hormone/antibiotic free
meat, eggs and dairy. hope this helps.
I too am a vegetarian (for primarily ethical reasons), and my husband a
meat-eater. We usually never have meat in the house and my daughters are
being raised vegetarian (3.5 yrs. and 3 mos.). The oldest child has seen
her dad eat meat often, and has asked about it. she has even asked to try
it, then declined once allowed to see it. I think though, that she has had a
few bites in her life. I have made it clear to my husband that it is very
important to me to raise my children vegetarian until that time that they
can decide for themselves (a whole other discussion!) and he has complied
for the most part. I have also discussed it with my child and continue to
do so, so she can understand where I'm coming from. Fortunately (for me!),
my husband doesn't share the same desire to have our children eat meat as
yours does. But since your primary concern is health I think a good
compromise is to insist that they only be fed ''organic'' meat - those
raised without the junk you mentioned. I have allowed my children to eat
dairy but am very insistent that it be organic for the same reasons. Organic
meats are pretty readily available around here; Whole Foods comes to mind
and I'm sure there are others.
another veggie mom
We have the same situation with our 18-month-old son. I am a veggie and my
husband is not. I had read in several books that it is not necessary to
give a baby/toddler meat to meet their dietary requirements, especially if
they drink lots of milk and are getting enough fats and variety in their
diet (the most recent Dr. Spock even advocates a veggie diet). We found
that although he loves food, he became pretty picky by about 14 months. He
had eaten pressed turkey and even tried a little hamburger once. Now he
eats almost exclusively veggie, with the major exceptions being eggs and
(sigh) hot dogs. I buy high quality hot dogs, and limit them to a maximum
of 1 per week as a compromise. My husband and I have decided that we will
introduce him to a variety of foods including meat, but since I do most of
the cooking he will eat mostly vegetarian food at home and try meats (if he
wants to) when we eat out.
another veggie mom
We are not a vegetarian household so I can't advise you from that
standpoint, but you should know that it's really easy to buy hormone and
antibiotic free meat and poultry in this area. Berkeley Bowl sells, I
believe, only ''clean'' meat. Whole foods, Armands Meats in the back of El
Cerrito Natural Grocery, and I'm sure there are many other places that sell
red meat and poultry raised on organic feed and not treated with chemicals
in any stage of development or processing. Your child and husband can then
enjoy their non vegie times together and your husband will be getting
healthier meat as well.
My comment is that you can probably avoid the dilemma for at least another
year - or two. Keep in mind that toddlers and young children - even those
with two meat-eating parents - normally don't like meat. The fact that your
15-mo. old is vegetarian now is typical of children his age even where both
parents are meat-eaters. I know because my child liked meat from a very
early age and EVERYONE who has taken care of him comments on this with
surprise. So your husband shouldn't think you are ''poisoning the well'' if
your child dislikes meat for another couple of years, and you shouldn't pat
yourself on the back prematurely for raising a veggie - because things may
change! In terms of a compromise, I try to buy only organic (hormone free)
meats and I don't let him eat hot dogs except for special occasions
Between Berkeley Bowl, Magnini Poultry and Andronico's Market there are lots
of sources for antibiotic/hormone free, organic meat. We don't normally cook
with a lot of meat, but when we do it's either Niman Ranch(anti./horm free),
a Rosie's chicken or the chicken at Magnini Poultry.
I too live in a half-vegetarian household, only I'm the one who eats the
meat. We don't prepare any meat in the house, and I only eat it at
restaurants and at friends or family's homes. My first child ate some meat
for the first 2 years, and then decided she was a vegetarian just like Papa.
(She gives me a hard time now when I order something with meat. ''I like you
better when you don't eat meat'' she'll tell me.) My second child barely
eats anything and has never had meat. I'd just come to some agreement with
your partner where you compromise, like everything else! Set the limits you
really care about: unprocessed, organic, free range, hormone free, whatever
it might be. Soon enough your child will be having an opinion of his own.
Educate both your husband and child about the health risks of too much or
the wrong sorts of meat. I think it was my no-nonsense discussions about
where meat comes from that made my daughter a vegetarian, even though it
my husband who cared more about the issue!
I am a vegetarian-wannabe but am married to an enthusiastic meat-eater as
well. If you are solely concerned about antibiotics/hormones and
environmental issues surrounding meat if your child is going to eat meat
with Dad, you can buy humanely raised, no-antibiotic, no-hormone meats at
Whole Foods. As for health issues, meat has gotten a bad rap nutritionally
lately. A good book discussing nutrition for children for vegetarians and
non-vegetarians alike is Ellen Satter's ''Secrets of Feeding A Healthy
Family.'' It also includes family-friendly recipes, shopping/stocking tips,
etc., for busy families.
Re the half vegetarian household. If your objection to meat is the
antibiotics/hormones perhaps you could compromise by purchasing range
drug free beef which is available at Andronico's among other places.
I just wanted to chime in to this discussion being the meat-eater in a
half-vegitarian household. We want to let our kids decide on their own
later in life if they want to be vegitarian or not. So they have little
bits of meat whenever I eat some, but are mostly vegitarian as generally
that's how we all eat.
I felt it was important that they get some of all kinds of meats so that
they build up the right enzymes and such to process it. As my kids are now
going to preschool, and surely will eventually go to friends houses and
such, they will at some point or another have a hot dog, peperoni pizza, or
some other food with meat in it (like even a chicken-based vegitable soup).
I am happy to know that no matter what they try, they at least won't feel
sick from it being something their bodies have never had. But on the other
hand they only have meat on occasion so I have no worries about any health
I'm a vegetarian, and my husband is not. We have a 12-year-old who was
reaised eating meat-- and I've always regretted this-- because of the health
issues you mentioned-- higher cancer rates, hormones, anti-biotics, etc.
Plus-- I think meat is an unnecessary food item that puts extra strain on
the earth's resources. I'm pregnant again, and this time we've agreed to
feed the baby a vegetarian diet until he/ she is old enought to decide
whether they want to eat meat, or not. Of course-- if health issues arise--
and the doctor suggests that we start feeding meat-- we will-- but this
should not happen since we eat an abundance of soy proteins and get enough
iron from other sources like spinach. I think the key to a vegetarian diet
is not just not eating meat-- but making sure that you get enough of the
right foods. Anyhow, every family is different-- but this is what we plan
on doing. My sister kept her son on vegetarian foods until he was five--
then let him decide if he wanted meat. He says meat is YUCKY and he doesn't
like it, but he loves tofu and broccolli. He is very healthy. He does
elect to eat turkey about once every three months. Good luck with your
decisions and compromises!
My husband and I are both vegetarians (we do eat eggs and dairy) and we really do
not want to feed our 7 mo. old daughter meat, although we want her to have a
healthy diet. Our pediatrician who we like and respect very much has said that it is
nutritionally important that our daughter start eating meat despite our aversion to
it. I am interested to hear other perspectives on the subject since I know plenty of
children have started out as vegetarians. For instance, could anyone recommend
good books that speaks about nutritional substitutes? Or if there are other
nutritional authorities that feel the same way our pediatrician does I would be
interested to hear from you. Thank you.
While your pediatrician is probably welll intended, he is doing you a
disservice by providing you with misinformation. Infants and children can be
fed nutritionally adequate vegetarian diets, especially if you plan to offer
dairy products and eggs. (Vegan diets are inadequate in vitamin B-12, unless
vit B-12 fortified foods are served.) .
I've been a Registerd Dietitian for 14 years and have a lot of
pediatric expertise on and off the job. As a mom, I didn't offer my infant
meat, fish or poultry. She didn't like beans, ate only a little tofu,
rejected iron-fortified cereals and was exclusively breast fed (meaning she
was given solid food, but no iron-fortified formulas). Her growth and
weight gain throughout her first year were fine and she was not anemic. At
four, she continues to be a picky eater and has rejected a lot of the good,
non-animal protein sources. Her most consistent source of iron comes from
soy milk (Trader Joe's soy milk fortified with calcium and vitamins A and
D), she drinks about 16 ounces a day. Her hemoglobin, hematocrit, growth and
weight gain are checked yearly and continue to be fine.
As for books, while not specific to vegetarianism, I highly recommend
Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense, by Ellen Satter. If you
email me your home address, I'd be happy to go through my files and send you
an article on raising vegetarian children to give to your pediatrician
(let's get him out of the Dark Ages). Also, there are many reputable web
sites from which you can download reliable nutrition information,
particularly university and government-based sites.
On another note, a bit of self promotion...After the birth of my
daughter, I went from working full to part-time at a county-based health
center. I am now starting a private practice, but don't want to committ to
renting office space yet. I'm willing to do home visits, or for parents who
don't want to feel pressured to tidy up their place, I'm comfortable having
people come to my home.
I've been providing counseling on prenatal nutrition, infant feeding,
and breastfeeding (I'm a Certified Lactation Educator) for 14 years and have
worked with women from all over the globeIran, Brazil, India, Vietnam, Laos, China, Israel, Finland, Japan . . .
(listed in no particular order other than what comes to mind). I also have a
lot of experience with chronic disease management, such as diabetes,
hypertension and hyperlipidemias (high cholesterol and/or high
triglycerides), etc. I use a non-dieting approach for weight management for
adults and children. All the nutrition counseling I provide is
research-based and geared toward optimizing health while keeping food one of
life's simple pleasures.
Our 16-month old daughter is an extremely healthy vegetarian girl. My
partner and I both eat a little meat now and then, but with all of the
antibiotics, hormones and environmental pollutants that can be found in
meat, we've decided to forgo giving it to her until she is much much older.
Since iron, protein and vitamins that can be found in meat are important to
her diet, you can easily obtain the same nutrients from food such as
vegetables, tofu and eggs. We give her lots of dark green leafy veggies
(spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens, ets.) for vitamins, calcium and
iron; we give her tofu, avocados, yogurt and eggs for protein and fats; and
simple snacks such as sesame-seeded crackers and seaweed-coated rice cakes
for extra vitamins.
She is doing great on this simple, cheap and meat-free way of eating. I
think if your pediatrician is forcing you to give your child meat against
your wishes, he or she isn't very informed of alternative ways of obtaining
Although I am not a strict vegitarian, I lean toward mostly not eating any
meat(never any cow). I have used the book: vegetarian baby by sharon yntema
put out by Mcbooks Press. You will come up against a lot of differing
oppinions about your childs diet, some of which can be very strong. My
recommendation is to read up on nutrition and pay close attention to your
childs activity level and physical appearance ( weight, skin tone,etc...).
Above that I would not fret too much. My pediatrician (who supports my food
choices) says as long as your child is getting all the recommended food
groups over the course of a week then you are probably just fine. We had a
problem with an iron deficiency, so supplemented with drops. Since I let the
body guide me in what to eat, I work the same with my son. I have discovered
my son will want a little fish or a bite of bacon here and there(my husband
is a meat and potatoes guy) so i provide what his body wants. But mostly he
doesn't prefering eating meat or poultry even when it is available. He does
like tofu, hummus, tahini, beans and rice. Your child may have a
constitution that requires lots of meat, but check it out for yourselves.
ps. wait utill your daughter becomes a toddler! My friend said all she could
get her daughter to eat when she was that age was tomatoes. my son eats 2-3
bites and then he is done (fret, fret!!) ;-)
I primarily follow a macrobiotic diet which is essentially vegan with
emphasis on whole grains, vegetable protein, vegetables and sea vegetables
(all organic) but fish is also included. My daughter, who is now 19 months
old, essentially has the same diet, no eggs, no dairy and no meat and is
doing fine. I also notice that many of her friends whose parents are not
following any particular diet, don't like meat and won't eat it. Her
pediatrician has never told me that I need to start feeding her meat but has
just cautioned that I make sure she gets enough protein and calcium. What
is most appropriate for your child will depend on his/her condition. I
would suggest speaking with someone who has a background in vegetarian
nutrition to give you advice on how best to meet your child's nutritional
needs. Try the website www.macroamerica.com. They will answer ''short''
questions there for free. I am happy to give names of people in the Bay
Area whom you could contact if you wish.
Your pediatrician is wrong! No baby NEEDS meat! I'm always amazed at the
lack of nutritional knowledge that can exist in the health care community.
Fortunately for me, my pediatrician is fully supportive of my choice to
raise my kids vegetarian. His attitude is that as long as they are healthy
and growing, all is well. And my 3.5 year old is 41'' tall and 41 pounds; no
worse the wear for her veg diet. I have been vegetarian for 20+ years, so
I'm pretty familiar with substitutes, protein and other requirements, etc.
So I can't offer a lot in terms of books. Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron
however, has lots of good ideas for nutritious foods for baby, and it is
vegetarian. Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair is pretty good
(although not totally vegetarian). There is also the Vegetarian Mother Baby
Book by Rose Elliot which talks a lot about the nutritional aspect of being
vegetarian and how to do it.
Easy meat substitutes that my kids like are tofu, beans and nut butters.
Also, since you aren't vegan, you get plenty of protein and other nutrients
from dairy and eggs.
There are lots of healthy vegetarian kids in the world! I hope your
pediatrician will be supportive in your decision.
My son is only 17 months old, but we plan to raise him as a vegetarian (with
eggs and dairy and maybe even fish). My husband has a grown daughter who is
proud of the fact that she has never eaten meat. I think you need a new
pediatrician who will support you. Look at Ruth Yaron's book: Super Baby
Food. It is full of good nutrition info, some of it is just her opinion
though. It is a good start for vegetarian and non-vegetarian babies. You
can adapt her method to fit your lifestyle, and find it pretty easy to make
your own vegetarian baby food.
Both my husband and I eat very little meat--and no red meat at all. We
rarely cook meat at home, but instead delight in lots of veggies, beans,
tofu, fruit... When my daughter (now 2.3) started eating solids I asked my
pediatrician, Dr. Gruber at Berkeley Pediatrics, if it was OK if she didn't
eat meat. He said of course! That he'd had lots of very healthy veggie
babies in his many years of practicing medicine.
Though I cannot give specific diet recommendations regarding vegetarianism,
I would just like to support you in your efforts. In the late 80's my
toddler son and I lived in a household with two hippie families. One was a
vegan family with three children - 2, 10, and 13 when we moved in - the
other with 4 kids was very carniverous and this was a very chaotic family
(I'm not saying the meat did that) . The vegan parents were fanatical about
her kid's diet (they were also home schooled, traveled around in a converted
bus, lived in India for a while - very interesting prototypical hippies) and
those three kids are by far the most healthy, balanced, social, intelligent
attractive kids I have ever met. It was probably a combination of all the
elements of their lives that made them this way, but their vegan diet
certainly did NO harm to the kids.(They did eat soy products in some form
or another at least once a day.) There are after all cultures that do not
No disrespect for vegans, but I don't understand the outrage over a doctor
telling a parent to try to include meat in a babies diet. There is nothing
wrong with a doctor doing this, nor is there anything wrong with eating
meat. The doctor is not doing you a disservice. That is his philosophy. If
you don't agree with it, find another doctor, but don't tell him he is
giving you misinformation. I realise this is a politically incorrect thing
to be saying, but the majority of people do eat meat.
I know several nutritionalists as well and they say its just a matter of
opinion. If you don't wish your baby to eat meat, then find a suitable
substitute for him/her, but don't be surprised if they turn into meat eaters
later on in life. My family enjoys eating meat and poultry (not too fond
of fish) and they are just as healthy as their non-meat eating counterparts.
I think it's just a matter of personal preference and opinion rather than
what's best for your baby. Plus eating in moderation (balanced diet). I have
noticed that as we've gotten older, we don't eat as much of it, but we still
include it in our diets.
Mankind has been meateaters for thousands of years. Yes, there are some
cultures that don't eat as much of it, but there are different reasons for
that. It's not just a cultural thing. If you choose to be a vegetarian then
choose a vegetarian doctor. You'll feel better about the advice you get.
I don't know if I can post a comment on a reply, but I believe that someone
seriously misunderstood the replies to ''vegetarian diet for baby'' and sent
in a defensive and not very constructive reply. The person sought to defend
her family's non-vegetarian diet, stating that she and her family really
enjoy eating meat, and said that it is wrong to suggest that a pediatrition
is misinformed if he insists that a baby must eat meat, as this is just a
matter of opinion. This is not just a matter of opinion. A child can thrive
without eating meat, as several repondents, including a dietician, said. No
one is saying that a child SHOULD NOT eat meat, or that it is wrong for some
families to enjoy eating meat. The question was simply whether or not it is
OKAY for a child not to eat meat. Furthermore, there is no need to have a
vegetarian doctor just because a family is vegetarian. Gay people don't
necessarily need gay doctors, a gynocologist does not have to be a woman,
etc. A physician must be familiar with a number of issues which do not
directly affect him or her, and if he is incapable of doing so then he may
indeed be misinforming his patients. Just because someone wants advice on a
vegetarian diet does not mean that meat-eaters need to defend their decision
to eat meat, or to implicitly criticize others who choose not to.
A pediatrician who tells vegetarian parents, ''that it is nutritionally
important'' for an infant to eat meat is providing a family with
misinformation. Parents place a lot of trust in their pediatricians. When it
comes to feeding their children parents expect to receive up-to-date,
accurate information that is based on good research, not opinion (perhaps
with the exception of some behavior-based guidance). Research shows,
including an article in the reputable journal Pediatrics, that vegetarian
diets are nutritionally adequate to support normal growth and development in
infants and children.
Eating meat is a choice not a necessity. Let's not blur the distinction
between fact and opinion. And please, let's respect people's choices. People
don't choose to be vegetarian so they can call meat eaters politically
Can anyone recommend a good resource for a beginner vegetarian?
As a long time vegetarian, I may not have the best answer for you re; beginning type of
vegetarian resources, but I'll try. YOu might want to check out subcribing to Vegetarian
Times, as they tend to often have beginner-oriented articles. There are also a ton of
websites; I can't necessarily recommend any, but you should poke around. There are also
some local groups, but I can't speak to those as I have never participated. As to books?
One of the first books that really inspired me to become vegetarian was the John
Robbins book "Diet for a NEw America". Then there are TONS of cookbooks. Its hard to
know what to recommend as I don't know your cooking habits. But about six months ago,
there was a thread here about good veg. cookbooks with some great suggestions. Good
luck, and "welcome to the club"!
I love Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Best for someone who is
already comfortable in the kitchen since she doesn't always explain techniques in detail.
But every recipe I've tried has been yummy. I also use the original Moosewood cookbook,
especially for soups. I know people like the other Moosewood books too. Lise
Editor Note: more recommendations for cookbooks can be found at
Good Vegetarian Cookbooks
I am a vegetarian and am bringing up my two children (ages 1 and 4) as
vegetarians. My husband is not a vegetarian, however we do have a
vegetarian household which means no meat in the house. I do
occasionally eat fish and seafood. I was wondering if there are other
folks out there with similar situations. How do you explain to your
children your reason for being vegetarian? I find it difficult to
say, "we don't eat animals" because occasionally we do eat fish. I also
find it difficult when we go out b/c their dad will order bacon or chicken
or other meat. How do I explain that the 3 of us are veggie but Daddy
isn't? Of course then there are the other issues, like going over to
friend's houses, which I assume will get more difficult as they get
older. At my daughter's preschool, I have made it known that it is
her choice weather or not to eat any meat dish offered. I just want her
to be informed that she is eating meat. So far she has always declined
saying, "I don't eat meat. We are vegetarians." When she says
something like that, part of me feels like I'm brainwashing her. Yet
the other part of me feels like I'm just teaching her my values. I
want both of my children to make their own decisions about becoming a
vegetarian as they get older. And I don't ever want them to feel like
a freak for being different. The choice is ultimately theirs as they
grow older and form an opinion. However, I will not ever cook meat or
allow it to be cooked in my house (a decision that was reached mutually by
my husband and myself).
I am a vegetarian mostly for health reasons at this point in my life.
I did become a vegetarian 10 years ago though because of the factory
farming issues (which is why I continued to eat seafood). I guess I'm
just finding it to be a complicated issue as my kids get older and am
looking for some support and guidance. Does anyone know of a veggie
parents mailing list? Would anyone be interested in forming one if
My family sounds similar to yours ... my wife is a vegetarian who
sometimes eats fish, and our house is basically vegetarian, though I am
a meat eater. We have twin daughters (5 months old now). As they are
still young we haven't directly run into this issue yet, but we have
discussed it a fair amount and our plan is to let them decide once they
are older. This of course means that we will feed them some of the meat
baby foods and generally get their bodies able to process meat (no bacon
for breakfast everyday or anything, but some occasional meat products to
make sure they are building up the enzymes to digest the stuff). I feel
that this is important becuase there will be times at a friends house or
at school where they will not necesarily know that they are eating
something with meat in it. When they can start to understand my wife
will be explaining to them why she has chosen not to eat meat. And I
will probably try to tell them why I go on eating meat. And then they
can decide on their own whenever the time comes ... age 3, age 8, age 18
(like my wife did) or whatever works for them. I personally wouldn't
want them to never have eaten meat and then end up getting sick someday
because they try a corn-dog or just some soup with a beef stock. If
you'd like to talk some more, I bet my wife would be happy to speak to
you someday too. Good luck!
I cannot give you really good advice, since we are not vegetarians,
but I offer the following anecdote: We have close family friends;
the mom was raised in England, but they all live in the US, where
their daughter was born. They are vegetarians, except that the dad
eats seafood occasionally, but only out of the house. Their
daughter and my older son are best friends, and we have spent a lot
of time discussing whether the daughter is American or English and
the difference between American English and English English... One
day, my son (then about 3) asked how come the daddy eats fish, but
his friend and her mom don't? I replied that they are stricter
vegetarians, than the dad. My son sat bolt upright and said "but
she's not a Vegetarian, she's AMERICAN!!!"
Having spent a lot of time with this family; sharing meals,
babysitting, etc. my observations are that the kids don't seem to ask
a lot of questions about why, they just accept what you say. "We
don't eat meat, but they do." My son sometimes likes "to play
vegetarian" and pretend whatever we are eating is a vegetable, and
their daughter sometimes "plays meateater" and renames all her food
for animals. They don't seem to examine the larger, overall,
political/health picture the way we do. It seems to me that they
view it more like "I like chocolate ice cream, and she likes
strawberry". Or, "mommy likes beets, but daddy doesn't". I know
that our friends let it be known to anyone who would possibly offer
their daughter food, ie: the preschool, playdates etc., that she
doesn't eat meat, just as one might say "she's allergic to peanut
butter, or doesn't like tomatoes". They are also pretty relaxed
about it in so far as they don't get upset if she is occasionally
given cookies or crackers made with animal fat. Good luck!
I can't offer any advice to the vegetarian mother, because my daughter
is only 2 and so is too young to ask questions about her diet, but we are
in the same household situation (vegetarian mom & child, occasional fish
eaters, husband who is vegetarian inside the home, though more often
than not also vegetarian in restaurants). She expressed interest in
e-mailing others, and I too would be interested in this.
You sound very reasonable in your approach, discussing vegetarianism as a
life-style choice rather than treating it as a moral issue with only one
right answer. In my experience no one (except grandparents) blinks an eye if
a vegetarian shows up at their table. My 14-year old daughter is vegetarian
and I am not. I am also not much of a cook/meal preparer. I would welcome
any suggestions for simple meals and lunch box foods, especially high
I am also the sole vegetarian (no meat, fish, shellfish and right now,
no dairy due to our baby's cow's milk intolerance)in my household. My
reasons for being vegetarian are primarily health-related, although also have
to do with issues related to agricultural economics and politics. I find
myself frequently asked about what I plan to feed my child (as in "You're not
planning to impose your vegetarian diet on your child, are you?").
It's not my nature to impose my views or preferences upon anyone, and my
response is generally that she can eat whatever she likes. In reality
of course, this is wholly impractical, as babies and young children need
direction and need to have some choices made for them. Since I do the
shopping and often the food preparation, it's likely my daughter will end
up eating what I eat. But I have begun to wonder about how to handle
situations out of our home. Like when the mother-in-law tries to feed the
baby pork roast.
I do not know of a vegetarian parents mailing list, but would
definately be interested in starting one if none exists.
this page was last updated: Aug 15, 2010
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network