Vegetarian Teens

Aimee is from West Chester, PA, and she is 15 years old. She has a passion for figure skating, ballet and playing the piano. She loves challenges and aspires to be a lawyer when she is older.

Becoming a vegetarian is a big decision for teens and the choice is sometimes made significantly tougher when your parents don’t agree with your choice. This is what happened to me when I decided to become a vegetarian. I took an environmental biology class over the summer and after considering some of the facts that were presented to us during the course of the class I wanted to give vegetarianism a try. When I told my parents they went along with it at first, but I don’t think that they thought I would stick to my word, so they kept offering me meat and teasing me about it. I then decided to sit them down and explain to them why I was making this choice and how I was going to do it in a healthy way. I think that many teens have this problem, so I thought that I would share some of the points that I told my parents.

I first explained to them why I’m a vegetarian. This is different for every individual, but the thing that my parents appreciated was that I had an opinion about an issue and that I wanted to do something about it.

When it came to talking about my diet as a vegetarian and how I was going to make sure that I maintained a healthy diet my parents and I did a bit of research. We found that because vegetarians cut meat out of our diets we need to acquire the nutrients that we get in meat from other sources such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Vegetarians and especially vegans need to make sure that they pay extra attention to getting sufficient amounts of iron, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, carbohydrates, fat, protein, and zinc.

The big one in here that comes to the minds of most parents with vegetarian teens is a lack of protein. Since not eating meat cuts out the biggest source of protein for most teens it is important to know other sources of protein such as bread, beans, peanut butter, tofu, soymilk, and even low fat cheese.

In the end, the choice to become a vegetarian is a very important decision and it should be made with lots of thought and consideration. People become vegetarians for a variety of different reasons, but it is important for parents to understand those reasons and help their teens go vegetarian in a healthy way.

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3 Responses to “Vegetarian Teens”

  1. Mark Gary Blumenthal, MD, MPH
    September 10, 2010 at 5:20 am #

    There are healthy vegetarians and unhealthy vegetarians. There are healthy omnivores and unhealthy omnivores. And there are healthy people in between and unhealthy people in between.

    As large primates, it is probably easiest to maintain a healthy diet via an omnivorous approach, but that merely reflects my viewpoint as a physician schooled in public health, preventive medicine and evolutionary biology.

    What ties all this together can easily be found at the USDA’s Food Pyramid website: Here, kids and adults can find guidelines for balancing off whole grains healthy oils, healthy proteins, micronutrients, and proper exercise.

    My adolescent daughters are both healthy vegetarians, thanks to the input from their Kosher omnivorous father and their Kosher vegetarian mother. You can do it too.

    Mark Gary Blumenthal, MD, MPH
    Knoxville, TN


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