Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Is a vegetarian diet healthy for a teenager?

Thank you for visiting my site; I was touched by your comments.

How would I have responded if my child had told me that they wanted to "go vegetarian"? I might have reacted with reluctance for the following reasons:

  1. l did not know how to prepare a meatless meal.
  2. I thought preparing vegetarian meals would take too much time.
  3. I thought vegetarian foods were hard to find and cost more.
  4. I thought I would not get enough protein and calcium.
Over the years though, all of these concerns have been addressed. I can prepare quick, simple, inexpensive meatless meals. There are many foods on the market suitable for vegetarians and vegans, no more expensive than buying a cut of meat. Most importantly, I think I get more vitamins and minerals now because I do eat more fruits and vegetables.

It seems to me that you are a very courageous young person with an extremely good heart. To walk a different path then everyone else requires strength and faith in your own heart's stirring. I congratulate you! (Recently, I read about a study compiled by English researchers. The study found that people who had test results indicating high IQ's as children, were more likely to become vegetarians as adults!) Strong, kind and intelligent - hey, this world needs more people just like you!! (By the way, you sense that some of your friends find your interest in vegetarianism weird...try not to worry too much about that. Personally, I find the "weird" people quite cool!)

But I digress..... Your timing in asking about the nutritional benefits is perfect. Health Canada has recently unveiled the new Canada's Food Guide. This revised food guide includes many suggestions for non-animal sources of protein and calcium.Try to get a copy to stick on your refrigerator door. Your whole family will see that it is possible, to eat nutritiously, without animal products, utilizing a variety of foods. Our new food guide reflects this as Canada has so many people from different cultures, some who eat very little or no meat at all.

In a nutshell here is what is recommended for teens 14-18:

  • (girls) 7 servings vegetables/fruit, 6 servings grain products, 3-4 servings milk and alternatives, 2 servings meat and alternatives;

  • (boys) 8 servings vegetables/fruit, 7 servings grain products, 3-4 servings milk and alternatives, 3 servings meat and alternatives.

  • (It's those alternatives* that feature prominently in the rainbow and are all vegetarian!)
*Beans, lentils and tofu are all good sources of protein and alternatives for meat, poultry and fish.

Calcium fortified soya beverages and calcium fortified orange juice are good sources of non-dairy calcium.

Maybe you are already eating some vegetarian meals now (beans and toast, scrambled eggs, pasta and meatless sauce with a salad) - this is exactly how I started many years ago. A few times a week, I would prepare meatless meals. It is certainly OK to start slowly and progress over time.

Have you considered seeking out kids at your school who might be interested in vegetarianism? There are many vegetarian cookbooks out there aimed at teens now - your library might carry some. Could you put an ad in your school newspaper "Interested in starting up a vegetarian club? - meeting at 3:30 in room such and such" or something to that effect. It is really helpful and supportive to be with people who are interested in the same subjects as you are.

Do you like to cook? Maybe you could offer to prepare a meal; your mother would be most appreciative, I can almost guarantee that! And when you're the cook, you get to choose the menu. If you get The Spectator, keep your eyes open for meatless recipes. I have found some excellent recipes that are easy to follow, fast to prepare and with ingredients that I actually have in my cupboards!

Keep on doing what you are doing little by little - you are an inspiration!! I'm cheering you on! Let me know how you are making out - if I can be of further assistance, I am only to happy to do so.

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Anonymous said...

re: IQ leading to vegeterianism
And yet, comsumption of shell-fish is widely regarded by paleontologists to have contributed and maybe triggered the growth of the brain from pre-humans to humans...

Anonymous said...

re: IQ leading to vegeterianism
And yet, comsumption of shell-fish is widely regarded by paleontologists to have contributed and maybe triggered the growth of the brain from pre-humans to humans...

Compassionate Consumption said...

Please go on - I am not sure where you are headed with this comment or the point you are trying to make. But I am intrigued....

shelley ann said...

my mom read your blog & she said okay i can be vegetarian and be vegan later. she said that because i am in an enrichment class that maybe i'm smart enough to figure out it is good for me. she got some books and websites on nutrition for her and me to read. the person who wrote about paleontologists should think about how that is just a hypothises not a theory. paleontologists also thought that dinosaurs were cold-blooded until about 10 yrs ago. thanx for your help.

Compassionate Consumption said...

Shelley Ann,
I was really very pleased to hear back from you. It sounds like you and your Mom are going to both explore the world of vegetarian dining. How nice for you to have her support!
I am sure you will enjoy your "research" and most of all - the yummy meals you will be eating!
Sincere regards.
PS: In light of your remark about the paleontologists (gosh...I don't even know how to spell that word!!), I'll be taking extra care to check my remarks for accuracy. That's a good thing - keeps me on my toes!

shelley ann said...

When will you be back on? The stuff on your blog is interesting.

Compassionate Consumption said...

Good morning Shelley Ann,
I hope all goes well with you.
Yes, I will be back. It does seem like some time has elapsed since my last post at the end of February. I tend to make entries when I need to say something. But thanks for the little "push" - I can add some recipes and quotations, etc.
King Regards!