“I’m going to be vegetarian.”
“I’m not going to eat meat anymore.”
“I’m vegan now.”
These simple statements can strike fear in the hearts of busy parents everywhere. The teen years are hard enough, without adding the stress and complication of a whole new unfamiliar diet. Parents wonder “What will I cook? What foods will I buy?” They worry about their teens’ nutrition and health. Will he or she get enough protein? Does the whole family have to give up meat?
I’ve known plenty of parents — both clients and friends — who dealt with newly vegetarian or vegan teenagers. From my point of view as a nutrition professional, few had the resources to deal adequately with the situation. Many of the teens were left to their own devices, which turned into a steady diet of soy burgers or cheese pizza or expensive meal replacement bars. One disapproving parent sent her teen to the kitchen to make a PB&J for dinner every evening. Frustrating for me to see, because it’s so unnecessary.
I wrote Feed Your Vegetarian Teen to help those parents navigate this new eating reality. The book has information on basic teen nutrition, as well as a discussion of the health benefits and concerns of vegetarian and vegan diets for growing teenagers. While I don’t promote a meatless diet, I do encourage everyone to eat a more plant-based diet in general, for the health and environmental benefits. This book can help everyone accomplish that.
The simple recipes are focused on dinner, and are designed to use high protein foods as condiments. This way one basic meal can be prepared, and everyone can add their own protein food of choice, from beef to tofu to nuts. Beans, grains, vegetables and noodles are recipe staples, and there are suggestions for side dishes that balance out the meal, for both health, flavor and texture.