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6 Tips for Raising Vegetarian Kids

Discover six essential tips for successfully raising vegetarian kids. From creative recipes to dining out strategies, navigate the journey with confidence.

With the growing emphasis on health and ethics, an increasing number of families are embracing plant-based food as their primary source of nourishment. In fact, recent studies have revealed that nearly half of Americans now claim to consume vegetarian meals for the majority of their time. This significant shift marks a departure from the dietary norms of previous decades.

This change isn’t limited to adults alone. Many families are consciously raising their children on predominantly vegetarian diets, thereby fostering a generational shift towards plant-based living. Although there may be challenges along the way, the journey of raising vegetarian kids is filled with numerous rewards and triumphs.

Opting to raise vegetarian children empowers them to take ownership of their dietary choices, shaping their practices and values for the long term. In this guide, we will provide you with a wealth of helpful tips and tricks to assist you in navigating the path of raising vegetarian kids within your own home. By implementing these strategies, you can ensure that your children thrive while embracing a vegetarian lifestyle that aligns with their personal beliefs and well-being.

Raising kids to be vegetarian allows them to take charge of their own diets, practices, and values. Read on for 13 tips for raising vegetarian kids.

Tips for Raising Vegetarian Kids

Make Things Easy On Them

One of the main reasons fast food is such a huge force in the United States is right there in the name: it’s fast and easy. Kids, just like us adults, don’t look forward to the idea of having to put a lot of effort to make themselves a meal or even a snack. And it can be hard to avoid the lull of easy and sugary snack items or burgers from a drive-thru window when one is hungry. All this to say, one of the best things you can do to encourage your children to think like vegetarians is to make the process easy on them.

 Stock your fridge with vegetables so that there’s always something around to eat. In fact, go one step further and make sure they’re all pre-cut and essentially ready to grab and eat. Cut veggies are one of the easiest and most nutritious go-to snacks.  Have a thing of hummus and some carrots ready, for example, and your children might be thrilled for an after-school meal. Pairing these with peanut butter, guac, or yogurt dip is just as amazing of an option.

This is all so easy your kids can make it themselves, which is the exact kind of convenience you should be hoping to provide. 

The phrase “make things easy on them” in the context of raising vegetarian kids refers to creating a supportive and accommodating environment that simplifies the process of following a vegetarian diet.

Here are some tips on how to make things easy for vegetarian kids:

  1. Educate and involve them: Teach your kids about the reasons behind vegetarianism, such as animal welfare, environmental impact, or personal health. Involve them in decision-making processes regarding meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. When they understand the purpose and benefits of their dietary choices, they will be more motivated to stick to them.
  2. Lead by example: It’s important for parents to set a positive example by following a vegetarian lifestyle themselves. When children see their parents committing to the same dietary choices, it reinforces the idea that being vegetarian is a normal and viable option.
  3. Provide a variety of options: Ensure that your vegetarian children have a wide range of food choices available. Offer a diverse selection of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Experiment with different recipes and cuisines to keep meals interesting and enjoyable.
  4. Make family meals vegetarian-friendly: Instead of preparing separate meals, aim to make the entire family’s meals vegetarian. Adapt familiar recipes by replacing meat with plant-based alternatives like tofu, tempeh, seitan, or legumes. This approach eliminates the need for multiple meal preparations and fosters a sense of togetherness during mealtime.
  5. Plan ahead for social situations: Help your vegetarian kids navigate social events, such as school lunches, parties, or family gatherings, where vegetarian options may be limited. Communicate with the hosts in advance to ensure there are suitable food choices available or consider packing a vegetarian meal for your child if necessary.
  6. Teach them how to handle challenges: Equip your kids with the skills to handle challenging situations, such as dining out at non-vegetarian restaurants or dealing with peer pressure. Teach them how to politely communicate their dietary needs and how to make informed choices when alternatives are limited.
  7. Encourage exploration and experimentation: Encourage your children to explore new vegetarian foods and flavors. Take them to farmers’ markets, grocery stores, or restaurants that offer a wide selection of vegetarian options. Allow them to experiment with cooking and involve them in meal preparation to foster a sense of independence and creativity.

Remember, every child is unique, and their dietary preferences may evolve over time. It’s important to provide support, be understanding, and have open discussions with your children about their vegetarian choices.

Make Veggie Versions Of Kids Favorites

Odds are, if you stock your kids’ plates up with a full serving of broccoli and nothing else, they won’t be thrilled. If you want them to embrace vegetarianism, you are going to need to meet them halfway. Luckily, making plant-based versions of just about anything is easier than ever. If your kids have a favorite type of food, you should easily be able to whip up a veggie-friendly version. If they like pizza, you can make an amazing margarita pizza with veggies on top. If they like spaghetti and meatballs, cook it up and work together to find your favorite brand for plant-based meatballs.There’s nothing you can’t make a veggie-based version of these days, even if it takes a little trial and error to find the right products for you and your kids’ tastes. Luckily, you can make this something of a team exercise. It can be fun to try and perfect your veggie versions of these recipes together. If you approach it as something of a game, it’s more likely that your kids will enjoy the experience.

The tip “Make Veggie Versions of Kids Favorites” refers to creating vegetarian alternatives to popular dishes that children enjoy. This approach can help make the transition to a vegetarian diet smoother and more appealing for kids.

Here’s how you can implement this tip:

  1. Identify their favorite non-vegetarian dishes: Take note of the dishes your kids love that typically contain meat or animal products. It could be things like burgers, tacos, spaghetti with meatballs, or chicken nuggets.
  2. Find vegetarian substitutes: Look for vegetarian alternatives to the meat or animal products in those favorite dishes. Nowadays, there are numerous plant-based options available in grocery stores, such as veggie burgers, vegetarian sausages, meatless crumbles, or tofu. These can be used as substitutes in recipes to mimic the texture and flavors of meat.
  3. Adapt the recipes: Modify the recipes to incorporate the vegetarian substitutes. For example, if your child loves spaghetti with meatballs, try using vegetarian meatballs made from lentils, beans, or soy instead. If they enjoy tacos, substitute the meat with seasoned beans, tofu, or textured vegetable protein (TVP).
  4. Maintain familiarity: Aim to retain the familiar elements of their favorite dishes. If your child loves pizza, make a veggie version using a vegetarian-friendly cheese and load it with their favorite vegetables. By keeping the overall appearance and flavors similar to what they are accustomed to, they will be more receptive to trying the vegetarian alternatives.
  5. Involve them in the process: Encourage your kids to participate in the preparation of these vegetarian versions. Let them help shape the veggie burgers or assemble the taco fillings. Involving them in the cooking process can make them more excited to try the end result.
  6. Gradual transition: If your child is hesitant about completely giving up meat, you can start by gradually replacing small portions of meat with vegetarian options in their favorite dishes. As they become more accustomed to the vegetarian versions and realize that they can be just as delicious, you can increase the substitution over time.
  7. Experiment with flavors and seasonings: Vegetarian alternatives can sometimes have a different taste compared to meat. Experiment with different seasonings, spices, and sauces to enhance the flavors and make the vegetarian versions more appealing to your child’s palate.

Remember, the goal is to make vegetarian eating enjoyable and appealing for your kids. By creating vegetarian versions of their favorite dishes, you can help them see that they don’t have to give up their beloved foods when transitioning to a vegetarian diet.

There's nothing you can't make a veggie-based version of these days, even if it takes a little trial and error to find the right products for you and your kids' tastes. Luckily, you can make this something of a team exercise. It can be fun to try and perfect your veggie versions of these recipes together. 


Breakfast Is Endless

It can be fun to experiment and work to make veggie-based meals for your family, but it can also be a bit time-consuming. You have a whole other life to worry about, after all! That means finding places where you can provide veggie meals without having to think much about it can be essential. That’s just what breakfast can be for your family every day. Most breakfast meals are inherently vegetarian. You can go big and make a veggie omelet with your favorite toppings: mushrooms, kale, tomatoes, and so on. You can make hashbrowns out of potatoes and mix them with peppers. If you have to go simpler, you can make a quick smoothie out of fruits and orange juice. You can make toast and smear avocado on top. The veggie-friendly breakfasts you can come up with are essentially endless and don’t require that much work or effort. According to Mental Floss, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it’s important to get it right. It’s nice to know that it doesn’t have to be complicated either. 

The tip “Breakfast is endless” in the context of raising vegetarian kids refers to the idea that breakfast offers a wide variety of vegetarian options, making it an excellent opportunity to introduce and explore different plant-based foods.

Here’s how this tip can help:

  1. Diverse breakfast options: Breakfast foods can include a range of vegetarian-friendly choices, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy or non-dairy milk, yogurt, eggs (if your child consumes them), nuts, seeds, and plant-based proteins like tofu or tempeh. This variety allows you to offer different combinations and flavors to your vegetarian kids.
  2. Nutritional balance: Breakfast is an important meal for providing essential nutrients to support your child’s growth and development. By offering a diverse range of vegetarian foods, you can ensure they receive a balanced mix of carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. For example, you can include whole grain toast with avocado, a fruit smoothie with plant-based protein powder, or oatmeal topped with nuts and berries.
  3. Exploration of new flavors: Breakfast provides an opportunity to introduce new vegetarian ingredients and flavors. Experiment with different types of grains like quinoa or buckwheat, explore various plant-based milks such as almond, soy, or oat milk, or try different fruits and vegetables in smoothies, pancakes, or breakfast bowls. Encourage your child to try new combinations and discover their preferences.
  4. Involving your child: Engage your vegetarian kids in the breakfast-making process. Let them help select ingredients, prepare meals, or create their own recipes. By involving them, they will feel a sense of ownership over their food choices and be more likely to try new things.
  5. Flexibility and creativity: Breakfast offers flexibility to adapt recipes and create vegetarian versions of traditional favorites. For example, you can make vegetarian omelets using chickpea flour, prepare pancakes with mashed bananas instead of eggs, or use plant-based alternatives like vegan sausages or bacon strips. This flexibility allows you to be creative and cater to your child’s preferences.
  6. Meal planning and time-saving: Breakfast can be prepared in advance, simplifying busy mornings. You can batch cook items like muffins, granola bars, or overnight oats that can be quickly grabbed and eaten. This saves time while ensuring your child has nutritious vegetarian options readily available.
  7. Building healthy habits: By offering nutritious vegetarian breakfasts, you are instilling healthy eating habits in your child from an early age. This sets a positive foundation for making nutritious food choices throughout the day and encourages them to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle in the long run.

Remember to consider your child’s preferences and nutritional needs when planning breakfast options. Aim for a balanced mix of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins to ensure they have a nourishing start to their day.

Make Your Child Into A Little Chef

Kids tend to be more invested in things that they can put themselves at the center of. The younger they are, the more likely they are to have a bit of a narcissistic streak in terms of what grabs their attention. Allowing them to take charge of the cooking process might be the right way to get them into eating vegetarian. If they are on the younger side, let them help you with the cooking. Make sure to guide them and keep to the recipes (you still want a meal to eat, of course!) but give the impression that they are somewhat in charge. They will have the thrill of running the kitchen, and thus pride in the food that comes out at the end of the process. They’ll likely want to show it off and brag to the rest of your family. Not only will you be teaching your child a valuable skill (it’s sad how many young adults don’t know how to cook) but you’ll be giving them a reason to get invested in healthy eating. If your children are a bit older, you can even go as far as taking them to the grocery store with you and allowing them to pick out ingredients. You can even let them do their own research and decide which healthy meal they will prepare for the family.  The best part (for you)? If you train them well and they enjoy it, they might take to cooking meals for everyone as they age! That would certainly take a little bit of the workload off your own plate.

The tip “Make Your Child Into a Little Chef” can be a helpful strategy for raising a vegetarian child as it encourages their involvement in cooking and fosters their interest in vegetarian foods.

Here’s how it can be beneficial:

  1. Empowerment and engagement: By involving your child in meal preparation, you give them a sense of empowerment and responsibility. They will feel more connected to their food choices and develop a greater appreciation for the vegetarian meals they help create.
  2. Education about ingredients: Cooking together provides an opportunity to teach your child about different vegetarian ingredients, their nutritional value, and how they can be used in recipes. They can learn about various fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and plant-based proteins, which can broaden their knowledge and palate.
  3. Experimentation and creativity: Cooking allows your child to experiment with flavors, textures, and combinations of vegetarian ingredients. Encourage them to explore new recipes, modify existing ones, and be creative in the kitchen. This fosters a sense of adventure and helps them develop their own vegetarian favorites.
  4. Life skills development: Learning to cook is an essential life skill, and involving your child in the kitchen from a young age helps develop their culinary abilities. They will gain knowledge about food safety, cooking techniques, and meal planning, which are valuable skills that can benefit them throughout their lives.
  5. Expanded food preferences: When children have a hand in preparing meals, they are more likely to be open to trying new foods, including different vegetarian options. As they become invested in the cooking process, they may develop a broader palate and be more receptive to exploring a wider range of vegetarian ingredients.
  6. Quality time and bonding: Cooking together can be a fun and bonding experience for the whole family. It provides an opportunity to spend quality time with your child, share stories, and create memories. The shared experience can also strengthen your child’s connection to vegetarianism as a positive and enjoyable lifestyle choice.
  7. Sense of accomplishment: When your child helps prepare a meal and sees the final delicious result, it instills a sense of accomplishment and pride. They will feel a greater sense of ownership over their vegetarian choices and be more motivated to continue embracing a vegetarian lifestyle.

Remember to provide age-appropriate tasks and supervision while cooking with your child. Start with simple and safe activities, gradually increasing the complexity as they grow older and gain more skills. Celebrate their efforts and encourage their creativity in the kitchen to nurture their love for vegetarian cooking.

If your children are a bit older, you can even go as far as taking them to the grocery store with you and allowing them to pick out ingredients. You can even let them do their own research and decide which healthy meal they will prepare for the family. 

Don’t Be Afraid To Go Out

Your family loves your home cooking, that’s to be sure. But if you really want to sell your children on the joys of eating vegetarian, sometimes you might want to make a bigger event of it. Going out to eat at a vegetarian restaurant, like True Food Kitchen in Phoenix, can give the whole proceedings a little more excitement and wonder. As good as your food is, there’s nothing like the feeling of having someone else prepare food and bring it to you: it just makes the whole thing taste a little better. Going out to eat can also help your family discover new recipes and expand their palette. If there’s something you and your kids find while eating out that you all love, you can try to start making it with one another at home. Some restaurants might not be willing to part with their secret recipes, but many will likely be willing to let you in on how to make it yourself. Eating out can also give you and your family another fun hobby. One of the joys of traveling to new places is finding the best local eats. Your family taking on this scavenger hunt-type mentality when it comes to vegetarian-family restaurants can be a fun family-bonding exercise. 

The tip “Don’t be afraid to go out” refers to not letting concerns about finding vegetarian options deter you from dining out with your vegetarian child. It encourages you to explore different restaurants and embrace the opportunity to teach your child how to navigate dining out as a vegetarian.

Here’s how this tip can be helpful:

  1. Exposing your child to diverse food experiences: Going out to eat allows your vegetarian child to experience a variety of cuisines and flavors. It broadens their culinary horizons and helps them understand that being vegetarian doesn’t limit their dining options.
  2. Teaching flexibility and adaptation: Dining out as a vegetarian requires flexibility and adaptation. It’s an opportunity to teach your child how to navigate menus, ask questions about ingredients, and make suitable choices. This helps develop their problem-solving skills and confidence in advocating for their dietary needs.
  3. Researching vegetarian-friendly restaurants: Before going out, research and identify restaurants that offer vegetarian options or are known for accommodating dietary restrictions. Many restaurants nowadays have vegetarian or vegan menu sections, or they can modify dishes to suit vegetarian preferences. Websites, review platforms, and local vegetarian/vegan communities can provide helpful information about vegetarian-friendly establishments.
  4. Communicating with restaurant staff: When you arrive at a restaurant, don’t hesitate to communicate your dietary needs to the waitstaff or chef. Ask about vegetarian options or if they can make modifications to existing dishes. Most restaurants are willing to accommodate dietary preferences, and discussing your requirements ensures a more enjoyable dining experience for your child.
  5. Being open to creative menu adaptations: Even if a restaurant doesn’t have specific vegetarian options, they may be willing to create a custom dish for your child. Don’t be afraid to ask if they can substitute meat with vegetables, tofu, or other plant-based proteins. Many chefs are open to accommodating requests and can come up with creative and delicious vegetarian alternatives.
  6. Encouraging your child’s involvement: Involve your child in the process of selecting a restaurant and reviewing menus. Let them practice making decisions about what they would like to try or suggest modifications to existing dishes. This involvement helps them develop confidence and a sense of ownership over their vegetarian choices.
  7. Embracing cultural diversity: Exploring different cuisines at restaurants provides an opportunity to learn about diverse cultures and their vegetarian traditions. It helps your child appreciate the global variety of vegetarian foods and encourages them to be open-minded about trying new dishes.

By not being afraid to go out and dine at various establishments, you’re helping your vegetarian child develop important social skills, adaptability, and a positive outlook on their dietary choices. Remember to provide guidance and support during the process, and make it a fun and educational experience for your child.

Don’t Get Stale Or Stuck

Kids have short attention spans, so you might need to keep mixing things up in order to keep them interested and invested. Don’t be afraid to continually experiment and try new things. It could be as good for you as it is for them! We all can get a little stuck in our ways. You could try to employ a system where you try one new vegetable a week. You could also try cutting up vegetables in new and unique ways, or mixing different ingredients in ways that you’ve never done before. You can find great new recipes online or let your children lead the way with new ideas on how to do things. You can pull in new recipe ideas altogether. Not used to making soup in your kitchen? Give it a go. Never made a fruit-based pie for dessert? Here’s your opportunity! Keeping things fresh can keep your kids engaged and allows them to stay invested in healthy eating.

The tip “Don’t Get Stale or Stuck” suggests avoiding monotony and routine when it comes to vegetarian meals for your child. It encourages you to embrace variety, explore new recipes, and keep the dining experience exciting.

Here’s how this tip can be helpful for raising a vegetarian child:

  1. Avoiding food boredom: Eating the same meals repeatedly can lead to food boredom and make it harder for your child to maintain enthusiasm for their vegetarian diet. By embracing variety, you can keep their meals interesting and enjoyable. Try incorporating new ingredients, experimenting with different cooking techniques, and exploring diverse cuisines.
  2. Discovering new recipes and flavors: Being open to new recipes and flavors expands your child’s culinary repertoire. Encourage them to explore vegetarian cookbooks, online resources, or cooking shows to find inspiration. Involve them in the meal planning process and let them suggest new recipes or ingredients to try. This keeps their taste buds engaged and introduces them to a wide range of vegetarian options.
  3. Seasonal and local produce: Incorporating seasonal and local produce into your child’s meals not only adds variety but also promotes freshness and supports local agriculture. Visit farmers’ markets together and let your child choose fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients they find appealing. This helps them connect with the source of their food and encourages a diverse and sustainable approach to vegetarian eating.
  4. Trying different cuisines: Explore vegetarian dishes from various cuisines around the world. Each culture offers unique vegetarian recipes and flavor profiles. Introduce your child to Indian curries, Mediterranean mezzes, Asian stir-fries, Mexican bean-based dishes, and more. This exposure not only adds excitement to their meals but also cultivates cultural appreciation and understanding.
  5. Experimenting with cooking techniques: Encourage your child to try different cooking techniques such as baking, grilling, stir-frying, roasting, or steaming. Each method brings out different flavors and textures, making meals more interesting and enjoyable. For example, try oven-baked vegetable chips, grilled vegetable skewers, or stir-fried tofu with colorful vegetables.
  6. Incorporating plant-based proteins: Ensure your child receives adequate protein by exploring different plant-based protein sources. Experiment with tofu, tempeh, seitan, legumes, quinoa, edamame, or plant-based protein powders. Incorporating these protein-rich ingredients into meals provides diversity and helps meet your child’s nutritional needs.
  7. Encouraging your child’s input: Involve your child in the decision-making process by asking for their input on meal planning and trying new recipes. Allow them to express their preferences, and consider incorporating their ideas into the family’s meal rotation. This empowers them and ensures their engagement in their vegetarian journey.

Remember, variety and flexibility are key to keeping your child excited about their vegetarian diet. Embrace the opportunity to explore new flavors, cuisines, and ingredients, and make the dining experience an enjoyable and adventurous one for your child.

Raising Vegetarian Kids

If you can raise vegetarian kids, you can feel better about them having a healthy and nutritious future. It can be hard to keep kids on a vegetarian diet with so much temptation out there. The above tips can help keep your family on track.

Need more advice for the kitchen, or ideas for dinners? Check out our recipes page for more.

About Julee: Julee Morrison is an experienced author with 35 years of expertise in parenting and recipes. She is the author of four cookbooks: The Instant Pot College Cookbook, The How-To Cookbook for Teens, The Complete Cookbook for Teens, and The Complete College Cookbook. Julee is passionate about baking, crystals, reading, and family. Her writing has appeared in The LA Times (Bon Jovi Obsession Goes Global), Disney's Family Fun Magazine (August 2010, July 2009, September 2008), and My Family Gave Up Television (page 92, Disney Family Fun August 2010). Her great ideas have been featured in Disney's Family Fun (Page 80, September 2008) and the Write for Charity book From the Heart (May 2010). Julee's work has also been published in Weight Watchers Magazine, All You Magazine (Jan. 2011, February 2011, June 2013), Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine (Oct. 2011), Red River Family Magazine (Jan. 2011),, and more. Notably, her article "My Toddler Stood on Elvis' Grave and Scaled Over Boulders to Get to a Dinosaur" made AP News, and "The Sly Way I Cured My Child's Lying Habit" was featured on PopSugar. When she's not writing, Julee enjoys spending time with her family and exploring new baking recipes.
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