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'Mom, I'm a Vegetarian'

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Last night on NBC's "Parenthood," 5-year-old Sydney announces she's become a vegetarian. Her parents (Julia and Joel), who are not vegetarians, are taken aback and began trying to convince her that she's not a vegetarian -- reminding her that chicken is her favorite and explaining protein is important.

Mom I'm Vegetarian

Later, when Sydney's grandparents (Zeek and Camille) arrive to baby sit with a lasagna in tow, Sydney sticks to her guns and insists she will not eat it.

Julia tells her father, Zeek, she's disappointed that he tried to force her daughter to eat meat because she doesn't want to squelch Sydney's "spirit" and wants to support her decision. Camille tells Julia that she needs to make it clear to Sydney that she is not boss of the house.

Momlogic wants to know -- do you have a child who has expressed interest in being a vegetarian? Did you support him or her? How did you support your child's decision but also make it clear who's boss?

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30 comments so far | Post a comment now
Grace February 23, 2011, 2:12 PM

That would be a dream come true for me. I’m not a full vegetarian, but I would love it if my daughter chose that path. I think it’s amazing that a little girl has the gull to make a decision like that and stick with it. It is certainly her right to want to choose good health for her body. It’s nonsense to say that we need meat to obtain protein. Meat eaters receive too much protein…and that’s a fact. You can be a vegetarian & receive the proper amount of protein if you’re a conscious eater. It’s not that hard. I am not 100% vegetarian because I love seafood too much. Although, I do wish to one day make a full transition.

I think the grandmother is wrong in saying the child should be shown she is not the boss. That’s not what the child is doing in this case. However, she should be applauded for taking charge of what she consumes. For once a child is choosing healthy eating over, say, candy and she’s being chastised for it. Maybe the family will learn a thing or two from her. I’m with Julia, let the girl begin making smart decisions now. What a wonderful lesson for everyone.

Kimberly February 23, 2011, 2:16 PM

I became vegetarian at age 13. My father & brothers are hunters & anglers, so you imagine how well that went over! My mother eventually began setting aside a small meatless version of whatever she cooked for dinner, just for me, because she realized I was sticking to my guns. Now, 20 yrs later, I applaud my mother for doing that for me! As a mother myself now, I only cook vegetarian meals for my kids. But if my husband cooks chicken (he’s not vegetarian) & my kids want to eat it, I don’t mind. I don’t want them to feel forced to live a vegetarian lifestyle. I think the same goes for carnivores. ; )

Candace February 23, 2011, 3:06 PM

My middle daughter, now 15, “toyed” with vegetarianism off and on from the age of 4. Her most recent stint has lasted 1 1/2 years. I agree, that you should never squelch a child’s desire to do something different from the norm when that something is a healthier lifestyle. Conforming is easy, taking a stand on one’s beliefs should be supported. Granted it would be a lot easier if she ate exactly what we did, but on the days we aren’t eating a pasta or bean side dish, PB & J, vegetable soup or a grilled cheese sandwich are great standbys. We have all benefited by my daughters choice, trying out new vegetarian recipes. There are some great tasting meat alternatives now and using those to make a traditional lasagna or soup, no one would even know.

Sara February 23, 2011, 3:47 PM

I told my daughter that she couldn’t become a vegetarian until she started eating beans because otherwise the lack of protein would make her hair fall out, until then she needed to eat meat a couple times a week, she’s fine with that.

You can’t force a kid to eat but that doesn’t mean you need to let them become a malnurished french fries, pizza and pasta vegetarian.

Samantha February 23, 2011, 4:19 PM

I became a vegetarian when I was 15. My parents didn’t support it at all. They thought I wanted attention. Till they realized I was being serious about this. I can tell it still bothers my mom, my dad on the other hand supports me 100%. He makes me healthy vegetarian food. My little sisters wanna pursue this lifestyle too. I told them I’ll help them out. So I guess its good for them to give it a try.

Kat February 23, 2011, 4:37 PM

I was 13 when I went veg and it was probably one of the single most important descisions of my young life. I remember telling my parents I was going to be a vegetarian when I was much younger, maybe 5, but my parents said that I would eat what they ate. But once I was older, old enough to make my own food I made the switch and haven’t once regretted it. My family didn’t understand at first and I caught some flak for a while, especially necause at first i didnt like that many vegetables. That has all changed and now 20+ years later, they support me sticking to it. This year, I became a vegan raw foodist, and my mom actually thinks it’s cool and has asked me how to encorporate more raw food into her diet. Also, friends and coworkers often come to me with their questions on going veg/ vegan and I’m always there to offer support.

Michelle February 23, 2011, 4:40 PM

My daughter came to me at age 8 and with tears in her eyes told me she couldn’t eat animals anymore. She is sweet and sensitive and a huge animal lover. I know her and I knew it wasn’t a “tantrum” or “phase”, as some moms suggested to me.

We fully supported her and made sure she had a healthy balanced diet. A year later I went veg!

Roni February 23, 2011, 4:44 PM

I have been a vegetarian all my life. My mother raised me as one from the day i was born. I am very healthy. If your daughter at such a young age decides that she wants to be a vege, the best thing you can do as a mother is learn how to balance her diet out. Learn about it and support her. In the end it is a healthy life style if u really understand how to nourish yourself. You’ll be doing her a favour. For the people who think meat or animal protein is necessary i’d advice you to look into the Gersons Theray.

Beaten February 23, 2011, 4:48 PM

I’m not vegan, but I can attest to the psychological damage done when you force a child to eat what they don’t like. My father forced me to eat meat and other things I didn’t like, with beatings, and other abuses. I grew up with many food issues, low self esteem, and to tell the truth, it wasn’t worth all the crap I took from him all those years. If your child doesn’t want to eat something, find something they do like and then supplement their vitamin intake with Flintstones or any other brand of vitamins, and their protein with nuts, and soy or whey protein shakes. I hope one day the younger generations will all choose veganism.

David Reed February 23, 2011, 4:58 PM

Sara protein is found in ALL PLANTS!! take her body weight and multiply it by .37 and that will tell you the amount of protein she needs per day, in 3 meals of veg, eggs and cheese per day she will no doubt reach the goal.

Ro February 23, 2011, 5:22 PM

I was the same. I think I was about 4 years old. One night my when I asked my dad what exactly it was that I was eating, he told me it was lamb.. I still remember spitting it out and pushing my plate away after realising it was a dead animal. From that day forth I decided never again to eat anything that was once alive.
I am now 26. My parents tried very hard to make me eat meat and a few times they succeeded when I was a lot younger by telling me that it was ‘soy’ but now everyone knows and repects my decision.

Jasmine February 23, 2011, 5:49 PM

I’m thinking, that kid’s going to do whatever she feels is right regardless of whatever her mom says.

I was 7 when I first wanted to become veg. My mom was opposed to it, and for 10 years on and off, I tried vegetarianism anyways because I’m just stubborn like that. Lol. I told my mom about it and became a serious vegetarian when I was 17, and I have been one ever since.

Spottedfeather February 23, 2011, 5:56 PM

Kimberly, what are you on ? You say that you don’t want your kids to feel forced to be vegetarian ? But you ARE forcing them to be so because you only make vegetarian food. So what if your husband makes meat ? You should make whatever the kids want, as long as it’s not something that will harm them in anyway. You have a really skewed idea of how the world works.

Child's Truth February 23, 2011, 6:15 PM

Growing up I felt forced to eat meat, I was always the last at the table trying to eat through tears. I have always been an animal lover. I never cared for eating it, touching it or anything to do with meat…but then somehow it became the way it is.

Five years ago I became a vegetarian, two years ago I became vegan, and now I’m raw vegan. I’ve never been happier physically/emotionally….the health benefits are an added plus. I feel at peace with everything in the world…animals are my friends and I don’t eat my friends.

I know this is what I was destined to be my entire life and I wish that my parents would have taken me seriously when I was a child.

Brad February 23, 2011, 6:16 PM

My wife and I are vegetarians. So is our son, who is six. He’s never had meat and I’m pretty sure he never will. He understands where meat comes from and finds it troubling that his friends and relatives eat it. There are no protein issues. He eats plenty, is active and is the tallest kid in his class.

vys February 23, 2011, 9:35 PM

glad that child made this bold decision at the earliest… i wish my bro do the same!..:)

Tony February 24, 2011, 12:11 AM

FYI, if anyone missed the episode or wants to watch it again, it is on Hulu

Hulu - Parenthood

Katie February 24, 2011, 1:28 AM

My daughter decided she was going to be a vegetarain when she was 6 while none of the other family was a vegetarian. I of course supported and respected her decision because she is a person after all. It made all the more reason to make sure that she is or was eating healthy. She is now 9 and it’s not allways perfect. But now our whole family is Raw Vegan and are on our way to being some of the most healthiest people on this Earth!

Johnathan February 24, 2011, 8:31 AM

Kids love animals. Why would anyone force their children to knowingly eat animals who have been killed? Not only will your child be healthy, but they will also be happier knowing that they are not hurting their animal friends.

A vegetarian diet has been proven to be very healthy for children of all ages, so there is no real reason to not support it. What’s most important is that the parents educate themselves about nutrition to make sure their child is eating healthy as a vegetarian (include lots of fresh veggies, minimize junk food and processed foods).

leah February 24, 2011, 10:23 AM

If my child were old enough to prepare their own balanced meal then yes, I’d say go for it. At 5, nope. I’m not your servant and making a 2nd meal just for one and also most kids don’t eat enough veggies to actually be a vegatarian.

I’d also see how serious they were about it - I’d tell them if they were willing to give up chocolate/sweets, then they could go veg and see if they are still willing to commit

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