A teen wants to explore being vegetarian but worries about what their parents will think.
Perhaps it’s time to start making yourself useful in the kitchen, suggests our elder.

 

Dear EWC

So I’m 14, therefore, don’t make my own dinner, etc, and I am thinking about being a vegetarian but I’m worried my parents will think I’m silly and not help me. (Which happened to my sister).

 

Maia replies

Well, it’s great that you are exploring an alternative lifestyle for yourself. This is a good way to get to know yourself better and help yourself grow into the kind of person you want to be.

Your parents might think you’re silly if you aren’t able to give them a good explanation for your decision. So, take some time to figure out exactly why you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian. Do you not really like the taste of meat? Does the idea of eating something that was once alive and breathing make you uncomfortable? Are you concerned about what the production of meat does to the environment? Do you want to include milk, eggs, and dairy in your diet? Do some research and some soul-searching, so that when you talk to your parents they will see that you’ve thought this through, and that this is important to you and not just a whim.

Also, look into proper nutrition for teenage vegetarians. You will need to make sure you eat a balanced diet with enough protein, vitamins and minerals. Meat provides a lot of essential nutrients. If you eliminate meat from your diet, you will need to replace it with foods that provide those same nutrients. Again, do your research so you can explain to your parents what your diet will look like without meat. This will reassure them that you’ll stay healthy.

Some vegetarians can be judgmental about meat-eaters. Don’t go there with your parents. Explain that you are not going to complain or judge them for eating meat; this is a personal decision that feels right for you, but you’re not going to impose your beliefs on others. There is room in this world for many different opinions and many different lifestyles, but you can only control what you think and what you do. Don’t try to convert others, since they will only resent you and won’t feel like supporting your decision.

I imagine your family meals include side dishes in addition to the meat course. You can eat those and forego the meat. But at 14, you’re old enough to start helping in the kitchen. If nothing else, you can pitch in and make a lovely big salad each night, filling it with veggies, beans and cheese to make a complete meal. There are many web sites with vegetarian recipes. Find some easy dishes that sound tasty and offer to fix them for your family. They can eat them, or not, but at least you’ll have many choices for your meals.

If you show that this is a well-thought-out decision about a lifestyle change that’s important to you, that you’re aware of maintaining a balanced and healthful diet, that you’re not going to judge others for eating meat, and that you’re willing to help out in the kitchen — if you demonstrate all of these things, it’s likely that your parents will be supportive and willing to help you out.

I wish you all the best. Have fun with this new lifestyle adventure. Take care.

Best Regards,

Elder Maria

 

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