Help a 7-Year Old and His Mom
An Animal Person reader has asked my advice, and though I know some stuff and am resourceful, thousands of heads are better than one.
Here’s the situation: A 7-year old decided a few weeks ago that he no longer wanted to eat animals. It sounds like the rest of the family are omnivores, though not daily meat eaters. Mom believes this is a moral issue, she wants to be as supportive as possible, and she doesn’t want her son to become discouraged.
Allow me to stop right here and say: Congratulations to the kid! Fantastic! Awesome!
Some details about the individual are that he is allergic to eggs (and beef) already and cannot have peanuts or tree nuts either. I think peanuts are highly overrated, not to mention not particularly nutritious. Tree nuts are a different story; staples of my diet are raw, organic almonds and walnuts, and I’m not sure what I’d do without them (more flax seeds and pumpkin seeds, I guess).
What I’m not at all educated about is soy and boys. Mom says:
I also know that it’s not good for boys (especially) to have too much soy. . . . For the past few weeks I have given him some prepared vegetarian and vegan foods, but those are primarily based on soy protein, and anyway I prefer to cook fresh foods for my children. So far I’ve come up with lots of variations on rice and beans, and quinoa, besides using some of those prepared products (such as "recipe crumbles"). I know that he needs about 29-40 grams of protein daily, and some of the prepared foods meet that in one serving, but as I said I don’t want to depend on those primarily.
The Food Allergy Survival Guide, written by Jo Stepaniak, Dina Aronson and Vesanto Melina appears to be a great resource. Also note that in each of the authors’ links, there’s an opportunity to ask a question, AND there are plenty of questions mom probably has that have already been answered. In addition, there are links to other books about children, nutrition and veganism.
Here are some great stories and photos of real vegan children that I find inspiring. Here are some diet plans for kids, and Healthy Eating for Life for Children has "kid-tested recipes" in addition to the nutritional information needed for planning meals. Here’s an online guide to raising vegan children (Erin Pavlina’s). Finally, just going to vegsource.com and following the "parenting" link or the "soy talk" link (on the navigation bar) will no doubt be helpful.
Again, I don’t know about soy and boys other than it doesn’t make them gay (yes, that was actually a controversy for a while). I do know that eating processed foods of any kind, frequently, isn’t healthy, and mom’s right to prefer cooking fresh foods and minimizing the faux meats.
Anyone have any other suggestions? I think it would be helpful if the entire family had a couple of vegan meals together each week. I think that would minimize how different he might feel as well as make him feel supported and encouraged.