I stopped preparing meat for my family in February 2020. After months of research and contemplation of the impact it could have on our health, finances, morals, and the environment, my husband and I decided to give it a try. We committed ourselves to be vegetarians. By default, since they don’t grocery shop or prepare their own food, our kids became vegetarians, too.
When I tell people we’re a vegetarian family, they like to make assumptions about our diet, our parenting, and our children. I know this lifestyle doesn’t work for every family and can seem unnatural and unnecessary. But after all this time, I can confidently say it was the right choice for us, and I am happy to share a little about our realities as a vegetarian family.
The Transition Wasn’t Hard
Like any other major lifestyle change, the transition to a meat-free diet was gradual. Over the course of a few weeks, we added less and less meat to our grocery list until there was none. At first, it meant that I had to spend a little extra time meal planning, but it was easy to stay committed once we started experiencing the benefits.
We never made a formal announcement to our kids about cutting back on meat because we didn’t want it to be an ordeal. It took months before they even noticed! By that point, they had made the adjustment and didn’t really care.
Since we made the switch, there hasn’t been a single time when I have craved meat or had the desire to eat any.
We Eat More Than Salad
When I was growing up, if I heard that someone was a vegetarian, I automatically pictured them eating a bowlful of raw vegetables at every meal. Although we don’t eat meat, we still enjoy literally everything else. We aren’t vegans so we eat eggs and dairy products, and I never deprive myself of French fries or dessert. Our dinner menu has a lot of roasted veggies, beans, rice, tofu, cheese, bread, and pasta.
Being vegetarian has encouraged us to try cooking with a bigger variety of foods and flavors, including different sauces, seasonings, and meat alternatives. It’s also incredibly convenient to find delicious veggie burgers, veggie dogs, and veggie nuggets in grocery stores. We almost never eat fast food, but you might notice that more restaurant chains are now intentionally including vegetarian options.
Suffice it to say, we don’t feel limited. Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts are less traditional, but we have found countless ways to satisfy our appetites without meat.
My Kids Are Still Picky Eaters
Unfortunately, I cannot say that being vegetarian means my kids eat all their veggies. My seven-year-old will eat most things you put in front of her, but my five-year-old has always been more particular. To motivate them both, we offer plenty of condiments (they are big fans of ketchup, ranch, and sour cream) and we eat family style so they can plate their own food. Although I provide the options, letting them make their own portions takes the pressure off the meal and allows them to listen to their bodies.
We also aren’t strict about forbidding them from eating meat. We don’t prepare it in our home anymore, but if they want to try it somewhere else, like at school or a friend’s house, they are free to make that choice. Our goal is for them to have a balanced diet and a healthy relationship with food.
I Don’t Mind If You Eat Meat
It isn’t my mission to try to convert anyone to vegetarianism. If you have questions about our diet, I’ll answer them. But we aren’t actively trying to convince everyone to stop eating meat. You’re the only one who knows what’s right for your family and if it’s something you’ve been seriously considering, it never hurts to try.