Get Your Teen Magazine in your inbox! Sign Up
Logo
Get Print Edition

A Vegetarian Teenager: My Kid Is Going Vegetarian! What Do I Do?

What do you do when your teenager announces she’s going vegetarian? For parents unaccustomed to a vegetarian diet, it can be very perplexing. But it doesn’t need to be.

“First, you want to support your teenager,” explains Jill Castle, a childhood nutrition expert and co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School.

How To Feed A Vegetarian Teenager

Do this by helping your teenager understand what it really means to be a vegetarian. Vegetarianism is a perfectly healthy diet, when done properly.

“You can’t just eat pasta and cheese pizza,” Castle says. “That’s not being a vegetarian. Vegetarians have a lot of beans in their diet. They eat alternate protein sources, like tofu and maybe fish. They load their diet with vegetables and fruit, and that’s the kind of diet you need to adopt to go about this in a healthy manner.”

Get books from the library or google the Vegetarian Resource Group and ask your teenager to read up on the kinds of foods he’ll need to eat in lieu of animal protein. Forgetting to eat replacement protein altogether can have incredibly negative effects on you teen’s health. If he’s still willing, then stock your home with those foods to help him succeed.

“I tell parents, you don’t really have to change your whole menu. Make your normal food and then fry up some tofu on the side for the teenager who isn’t going to eat the meat. And anyone else in the family can eat it, quite frankly, if they want to,” says Castle.

Note, also, that for many teenagers, vegetarianism—or veganism—can be a short-lived phase. “A lot of teenagers try it and it’s often temporary. It’s a reflection more of their developmental stage,” Castle notes. “So, keep your head together and ride the wave.”

Diana Simeon

Diana Simeon is an editorial consultant for Your Teen.

Related Articles

GET YTM IN YOUR INBOX!Receive our weekly newsletter with the latest articles, media, and resources.
Destination → CollegeAn 8-Week Series for Parents to Navigate the College Process

April 20, 2021 / 7:30pm ET

Week 7: After You Click Submit

Peer behind the curtain with Jon Boeckenstedt and Tiffany Blessing to learn how the admissions staff evaluates your kid’s college application. Who reads it? What do they really look for? How do they rank grades, test scores, activities, and recommendations? Does Early Decision pay off? Learn about all the factors that drive the decision process.