Working on healthy eating (and ? for the veggies out there)


As part of my New Year’s Resolutions, I included: “* Become more aware about the food and drinks I ingest and feed to my family. – to include researching vegetarianism and veganism and learning about the impact of current farming and food production in this country on the animals and environment so that I can make informed dietary decisions.”

I admit I haven’t done much research yet, but my gut is telling me that the best thing for us is to make a gradual switch to vegetarianism. However, I’m not sure I will cut fish completely out of our diets. I need to read up on that. But I am fine with no longer eating chicken or turkey and I haven’t had beef in nearly 8 years so that’s no skin off my nose. (By the way, I don’t mean to imply that we’d be vegetarians if we continue to eat fish.)

So far I haven’t had much problem cutting meat out of our diets (Ava hardly eats it anyway), although it will be a lot easier once the meat we do have in the house (think frozen chicken and ground turkey) is gone. I’m contemplating giving it away to friends if anyone wants it. That way I know it won’t get “wasted,” but I don’t have to be the one consuming it. ;)

Tonight’s dinner was Country Lentil soup (courtesy of Fantastic) and Tribe Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with pita bread. It was very tasty and I loved hearing Ava say, “Moo-oore, hummeeess.” :)

Question for all of the vegetarians or vegans who read my blog:

Do you have any books (or websites) on the topic (especially relating to kids) that you recommend? Specifically, I’m looking for a good book that discusses nutrition and the vegetarian child. I want to make sure Ava’s nutritional needs are being met and I’d like to be “armed” with this knowledge as soon as possible because we have her 18 month check-up next week. I’m not sure what my doc’s stance is on vegetarianism. She’s pretty open-minded and has been mostly supportive of my parenting decisions in the past, but she likes to know that I’ve done my research and made informed decisions so I want to go prepared.
(By the way, I have other questions about vegetarian/vegan eating, but I will save those for another day.)

For anyone who is looking to cut some meat out of their diet, even on a very small scale, I just came across this site – Meatless Monday – that looks like a great way to get started. “Meatless Monday is a national health campaign to help Americans prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer – four of the leading causes of death in America.” It includes recipes, cooking tips, ways to eat on the go, staples for your cupboard and more. It seems to be a very helpful resource.

Thanks in advance to any book recommendations or websites you all have. :) I appreciate it!

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11 thoughts on “Working on healthy eating (and ? for the veggies out there)

  1. Hi Amy,

    I found your blog through another Amy.

    I have been a vegetarian for about 15 years. I have three kids who are ages 9, 5 and 5. We have never had a problem with being a vegetarian family.

    Our diet started as a no meat diet, then we went to drinking soy milk instead of cows milk. We went back to cows milk, and every very little often, I will give my kids some eggs.

    I read LOTS of books back then, but the one advice that was given to me by a friend was, “look at cultures who are predominately vegetarians, and copy their diet”. I found that the Indian (from India) diet was the healthiest by far vegetarian diet. I bought some Indian vegetarian cook books, especially those that talked about becoming a veg after being a meat eater, and found that I could feed my family on very low budget, but very healthy foods, if I copied this diet.

    I still do, and while our meals vary from one “country” to the next, I still used the same basic principal for building a meal.

    *Quality Rice or Breads
    *2 – 4 vegetable dishes, cooked or fresh, per meal, especially making sure to alternate different colors of veggies, green leafy’s, orange root veggies, few potatoes, plenty of tomato, a rainbow of veggies is healthy.
    *1 -2 cups of dals/legumes/beans a day per child, 2 – 4 cups of the same per day for adults.
    *Nuts and seeds
    *Milk, yogurt, soy products too
    *Fresh fruits every meal
    *Quality oils (use little!)
    *Daily vitamens

    Old advice used to say that you must combine a carbohydrate with a legume.
    Now, you still need to have those components through out the day, but you could have your veggies and breads with fruit at one meal, lentils/legumes, rice and veggies at another. Just make sure that you have adequete amounts of your veggies, legumes, fruits, milks (if you drink it), oils/nuts/seeds, and of course plenty of water!

    Many vegetarians start thinking about organic foods when they switch from meat eating too. It makes alot of sense. Imagine preparing a wonderful fruit or veggie puree for your baby, only to know you are feeding your baby harmful chemicals. Organic foods are safer. Many families have to look at their budget before they incorporate alot of organic foods in their diet, because it is just plain more expensive.

    I have heard others say, “You pay for it now, or later”, referring to ones health. I have to agree.

    Eating vegetarian is confusing. For example, I don’t allow my kids to eat products that have geletin in it. This comes from animal. Letting others know about your switch is hard often. Your family may be used to you eating one way, and find it hard to cope with your change, even thinking that you have rejected them by your new diet.

    I would be happy to help you more. I have all of my books stored at this time, so I can’t tell you anything except that I love Indian food, and find it very satisfying compared to non-Indian food!

    Frankly I don’t have time to cook Indian food every day, so we eat alot of dishes like spagetti and veggie meatballs, salads with veggie crumbles ect. I try to cook at least two very good meals a week.

    BTW, our pediatrician decided a couple of years ago that he would challenge me with this veg diet (this was when we were not drinking milk I think). I allowed him to take blood and run any test he thought was necessary. In the end, he decided that my kids were the most healthy kids in his practice!
    I knew they would be.

    Jyotsna

  2. Petra Jackson has a great book on raising your child veggie. I know for us it would have been hard to go vegan, because we have a picky eater and we rely on yogurt and cottage cheese a lot. But going veggie is sooo easy and our little boy now 6 is very healthy and growing just fine. Our pediatrician is fine with it.

    His feeling is with all the antibiotics and crud they pump into meat, our child is better off.

    Enjoy,
    A monkey who got here through Obasso

  3. Well I don’t have a baby yet!, but some points I’d like to offer:

    1) Doing some research about how necessary protien/calcium really is will help convince you that a child’s diet need not be that different from an adult (except in portion). Often doctors are either not aware or don’t give much thought to the effects of eating too much animal protien (which ends up sucking calcium out of the bones). This, in addition to lack of exercise leads to osteoporosis – not “calcium deficiency”. Just little facts like that would probably put your mind at ease. In my mind, it’s not so much “will I be able to meet these dietary requirements?” as much as it is “how much sense do these dietary requirement make at all?” Also, you can hit websites like notmilk.com and educate yourself about how bad cow’s milk truly is for humans (as well as how unnecessary)

    I have an excellent book called “The Rave Diet” – which doesn’t have a lot of info on raising children as vegans but does have a lot of diet information in general and resources. The website is http://www.ravediet.com. I bought tons of these books with their “pay it forward” program to give out to people who are interested in changing their diets, and it includes a DVD – I’d love to send one to you if you’re interested! Just let me know.

    Lastly, a REALLY great website with tons of resources is http://www.vegsource.com – click on the “parenting” tab- it has tons of information about veganism and vegetarianism, and you can find books regarding vegetarianism and children there. The one book I see most often recommended for raising children as vegans is: Raising Children Vegetarian by Joanne Stepaniak (here’s the amazon link) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0658021559/102-4019440-2456943?v=glance&n=283155 – you might want to order that to help put your mind at ease.

    As for your doctor – I think he’ll probably be less concerned if you’re only considering vegetarianism, versus veganism, because that way they think you are still getting the calcium and protien that your bodies “need”. It’s when you say veganism that they get all concerned – read everything you can about it, and you’ll be so confident it won’t matter what the doctor thinks – besides, your healthy girl will be proof enough anyway!

    Hope my rambling was at least somewhat helpful!

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you all for all the information!

    Jyotsna – Thanks so much for the wealth of information and personal experience. I really appreciate it.
    I used to be a vegetarian (years ago) so I have some experience with family’s reaction already. I imagine it won’t be any better this time around since I’m making the switch for Ava too.
    Do you know of a good book or site with easy to prepare Indian dishes? I like to cook, but for now, I prefer my meals to be relatively easy to prepare. I love to hear that you can make Indian food on a low budget too. That’s a definite plus!
    By the way, I don’t plan to buy cow’s milk anymore (even though my husband is protesting). My last trip to the store, I got soy and rice milk.
    Thanks again!

    Monkey – Thanks for the book tip. I will chk it out. I don’t think we can go vegan either. Ava loves her cheese and yogurt too. Maybe when she’s older. Who knows.

    Isil – You can write to me at: amygeekgrl@gmail.com Thx!

    Miriam – I was hoping you’d stop by! Thanks for all of the information. :) I’d love a copy of the Rave Diet book if you don’t mind sending one to me. If you want to send me an email, I can get you my mailing info. – amygeekgrl@gmail.com
    I will chk out those websites. Thx!! I’m already convinced that we don’t need cow’s milk, though we’ll likely continue to eat cheese and yogurt.
    Don’t worry about hogging my comments. I love all the info. :) Now I just have to find time to read it all. ;)

    R2Ks – Thanks for the book suggestions. :)

  5. I don’t have suggestions for baby stuff, but for good and easy vegetarian food, I got one of the Moosewood Cookbooks. Yum. Even my husband has complimented multiple times on each and every recipe I’ve made from there.

    I haven’t talked about it on my blog, but I made the switch to not meat or poultry eating a 6 months ago based on information from R2Ks website. I still occasionally eat fish, because my husband hasn’t gone veggie and I like to be able to make one thing every once in a while that we can share. He is pretty good about eating tofu and other veggie stuff, but the fish makes him happy.

    I’ve actually found it surprisingly easy to switch to no meat. REALLY EASY. I just made the decision, and that was it. There are so many substitutes that I have made all of our favorites and just put in tofu or some other meat substitute and it has worked. For example, I made shake and bake the other day, but with tofu. It was delicious! Gardenburger also sells ribs made from tofu that taste JUST LIKE meat. My husband loved them. There are even fake chicken strips.

    Do you have a Trader Joe’s? They sell lots of inexpensive vegetarian stuff that is tasty, like garden burgers and other stuff.

    Good luck!

  6. HL – Thanks for your feedback. I really don’t think it will be very hard either. We’ve been eating tofu, veggie crumbles, etc., in a lot of our meals for so long now that I don’t think I’ll miss the occasional piece of chicken.
    I wish we had a Trader Joe’s nearby. I hear great things about them.
    I’ll chk out those Moosewood cookbooks. I’m all about the easy meals. :) Thx!

  7. I’ve liked most of the Fantastic Foods I have tried.

    As for sites – take a look at my links – there are many there…no too many on veg-children because I don’t have any kids, but VegFamily is good and VegSource.
    There is also a Vegetarian Women Site somewhere, too!

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