So your daughter says she wants to be a vegetarian

Girls toy with vegetarianism just when their need for protein and iron is peaking


What do you do when your nine-year-old says she doesn’t plan to eat meat anymore? It’s a remarkably common situation. This article surveys the possibilities, from eating disorder, the worry over weight, to pickiness, to a sincere and genuine choice. (Hey, it’s possible.) The question of nutrition is a serious one, since girls tend to toy with vegetarianism just when their need for protein and iron is peaking at the onset of puberty.

Today’s Parent

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So your daughter says she wants to be a vegetarian

  1. Actually, vegetarians and vegans are healthier, slimmer and live longer than those who follow an animal protein-laden diet. The question of nutrition is indeed important and that’s why more and more people are shunning meat, dairy and eggs in favour of fibre-filled, nutritious plant-based foods. Plant-based diets are healthier in every way and meeting recommended daily requirements for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients is a snap!

    It’s a myth that plant-based diets are somehow protein deficient – as you’re eating enough calories with a varied diet, you’re virtually assured to be getting enough protein. There are practically zero cases of protein deficiency in the Western world however, we all know that obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer – diseases linked to eating animals – are reaching epidemic proportions. Do your health, the planet and animals a favour by going veg in 2009.

  2. Camille, the problem with your assertions above are that you assume causation when in fact all you have is a correlation.

    Most know that the obesity rate in North America is skyrocketing. Generally speaking, people concerned enough with what goes into their mouths to become vegetarian, are also concerned with being a healthy weight. Because a larger proportion of vegetarians are a healthy weight compared to the general population it is claimed that it is “healthier”. However, if I was not a vegetarian AND concerned about what goes into my mouth (in other words, if I decided to live a healthy non-vegetarian lifestyle), I would be as healthy, if not healthier than a vegetarian. I would ingest a wider variety of vitamins and minerals, and I would get to enjoy my food more!

  3. The are a number of reasons why vegetarianism is difficult for people. For one thing, meat makes food taste a lot more delicious. Vegetarian food can be delicious if it is done right (it helps to master the art of curry) but at the same time there are far too many vegetarian cooks and vegetarian restaurants that serve up unattractive looking bland tasting mush that functions more as a kind of base line sustenance than any sort of delight for the palette. For this reason, unless one really intends to become a good cook and spend a lot of time working in the kitchen, vegetarianism (and even more so veganism) is always going to be akin to a kind of self imposed punishment; especially if one lives in a small community or a rural area that offers little in the way of variety.

    Another thing is that, while meat might be terrible and packed with hormones and all kinds of other poisons now, it’s not like vegetables and tofu are not also becoming genetic hormone bloated nightmares. Tofu, especially, is almost always grown in a genetically modified form now, with all kinds of pesticides melded with its DNA. The labelling for everything from meat to tofu to raw vegetables is so poor here in Canada right now that it’s difficult to make informed decisions about what to eat and what not to eat.

    Finally (although there are many more points I could make) while vegetarians and vegans like to go on about how the body doesn’t need meat protein, the fact is (and any ex-vegetarian will attest to this) meat gives the body way more energy than a vegetarian diet ever could. A person who wants to function with the same energy level as an omnivore is going to have to be extremely fastidious about keeping a balanced diet or they will constantly be at a low ebb. Vegetarianism requires a lot of education and a complete alteration in one’s lifestyle and most people honestly can’t be bothered with that. People who have been living on veggies and who take up meat again describe the experience as feeling a sudden and unexpected wave of energy flowing through their body.

    My advice is to severely reduce but do not eliminate meat from your diet, cut back on sugar and salt as much as possible and, whatever you do, avoid sanctimonious vegetarians at all costs.

  4. Camille, it’s the junk food making us fat, cancerous, and cardio-challenged. That and a lack of exercise. Not meat, milk and eggs. As already stated above, vegetarians tend to be very careful of what they put in their mouths in the first place, shunning not only meat and dairy, but also junk food and fast food. They also tend, again due to their health-conciousness, to exercise more. The overall healthy lifestyle that most vegetarians strive towards is likely a much bigger factor in their health than their avoidance of meat.

    Oh, and Adam, genetically modified foods are perfectly safe, and no less healthy than their non-modified brethren.