Well, I have good news! You have a sensitive child who cares about other living beings. He or she is unlikely to harm others when they grow up. What a wonderful thing!
I was once this child. I was a city girl and had no idea where meat came from. When I saw red meat, I called the blood “red juice”. I really had no clue! Of course, we ate mostly hamburgers and hot dogs, so there was no logical connection between a tube of pink stuff and an animal. I loved animals, and still do, and had cats during my childhood. I would never think of eating my cat, so why would I eat another animal?
As soon as I discovered where meat came from, I refused to eat it. I was afraid to tell my mom, because I was sure she would force me to eat meat. I learned to cook for myself and pretended I was just a picky eater.
There is more good news, it is easy to not eat animals! It is even cheaper!
What vegetarians eat
A healthy meal consists of
- Vegetables and fruits
All you need to do is change the source of protein. There are several ways of doing this.
1. Some new vegetarians seek out “fake meat” products, usually made of soy. They rarely taste like the real thing, but can be useful during the transition.
2. Some new vegetarians drop meat and replace it with cheese. Cheese is delicious! Unfortunately, you should avoid eating too much cheese. You cannot just replace a chunk of meat with a chunk of cheese the same size. It will will probably have way too much fat, depending on the specific type of meat and cheese. However, cheese and dairy products are an important part of a healthy vegetarian diet.
3. The healthiest vegetarian diet depends more on beans and lentils for protein. And there are so many types of beans and lentils!
Vegetarian children in omnivore families
If everyone else in your family wants to continue eating meat, your best option is to prepare a separate protein dish for your special child. You can buy something premade at the supermarket (category 1 above), or prepare or purchase beans and lentils to serve with the meal. This site has different protein recipes you can try.
You can also try making a vegetarian meal including protein, grains and vegetables that everyone can eat, instead of a regular meal with meat. I love one-pot meals! They are easy to make, easy to serve, and easy to clean up after. Your child will also be happy to see the entire family eating vegetarian, even if only once a week.
I wish your young vegetarian luck on his or her journey. I hope the recipes and advice on this site make your mealtimes more enjoyable.