My friend Mel is a recent mum. This posting is for her. As a vegetarian, Mel wants to bring her daughter up as a vegetarian, which is creating a bit of a debate within family and close friends who are not vegetarians.
Mel, I want to introduce you to Michael’s first cousin Julie and her family in the Gold Coast. Both Julie and her partner David have been vegetarians well over 30 years (32 years for Julie and over 40 years for David) and together they raised five kids. Of the five, four are still vegetarians today.
The eldest, James is a professional surfer. Check out his website: (http://jamesbillywatson.com/blog/index.php?blog=2#links) James competes professionally both internationally and within Australia. Yes, he is a vegetarian.
Both Sam are Sacha are new mothers themselves. Sacha has been a vegetarian all her life and is married to Troy a recent vegetarian and together they have a 2 year-old boy Neon who is being brought up a vegetarian.
Sam is mum to Harlow who is 19 months old and like her cousin, she too is a vegetarian. Sam and her husband Shaun are expecting their second child in November.
Next in the family is Sarah, who is vegetarian at home but not when she is out and about.
The youngest is doing his final in IT at Griffith University and like the rest of the Watson clan is a fulltime vegetarian.
Both James and Josh are well over six foot, lanky, healthy and athletic. The three sisters are tall, healthy and svelte. Being vegetarian helps, IMO. And the two you cousins are very healthy and delightful toddlers. Both kids are very active, a bundle of fun and a great addition to the vegetarian clan – three generations of vegetarian.
Julie and her family are a source of inspiration for people struggling to raise a vegetarian family. Both Julie and David are as fit as a horse; they are always vibrant and full of beans.
I have asked Julie to share her experience in raising five young kids on a vegetarian lifestyle:
Q1: What was the greatest challenge in raising a family as vegetarian, when they were younger?
Actually, Zainil, we never really had any issues. I think , probably because we were both vegetarian & had been for some time it just came naturally, didn’t have to think about it.
Q2: How do you maintain a well balance healthy diet for the kids when they were growing up?
They, from the start had to eat what was put in front of them, ha ha, old school eh?? They didn’t always enjoy the taste of all their vegies like most kids but with perseverance & ‘no dessert until you’ve cleaned up your plate’ (ha ha) all vegies became delicious in time. We did also have the egg burgers & hot chips occasions too, lots of fun, not good for you, & afterwards a cup of tea for all to wash down the grease!!
Q3: If you were to it again today, what would you do differently?
Nothing really but would choose organic food where possible – that wasn’t a readily available option in the ‘old days’ (another ha ha)
Q4: What advice would you give to young mothers who want to raise their kids as vegetarians?
If they are already vegetarian, then it’s easy. As they are youngsters you just have to make sure their protein requirements are met…..e.g. – Mexican food ( real kid tucker) made with organic beans & whole grain brown rice will give them a perfect protein. Greens are very important, our children enjoyed spinach pie. In fact our ‘roast’ dinner favourite would be spinach rice (that would be called risotto now) with crumbed tofu & roast or steamed vegies. We do eat eggs & that’s an easy way to inject protein too.
Q5: What’s the biggest benefit, in your opinion, in raising your family as vegetarians?
Our children have an appreciation for good, fresh food. They are easy to please, will eat anything if it’s ‘alive’, so, there aren’t any fussy eaters amongst our lot – have never been tolerant of the fussy eater….ha ha
There’s a great sharing that continues today of food, family dinners means everyone helping out in the kitchen – great fun!!. We love it when Zainil comes up to stay, her tempeh pasta has become a staple!!!
Q6: How do you feel about your grandchildren being raised as vegetarians?
It’s great!! Our eldest daughter Sacha & her husband Troy are both vegetarians & keen cooks. There’s some good Mexican at their house & Troy makes a mean pizza
Sam’s husband Shaun is not vegetarian (but really almost is these days ) This has not proved to be a problem for them at all. In fact, when they go out for dinner he often has the vegetarian option, especially if we go out for food as an extended family!! We order many different dishes for the table – huge variety…he loves it. The little people love the food they get – they go through stages of course but you just have to be consistent as with everything to do with children
Thank you Julie for your time. I hope Julie’s experience and that of her family will inspire other parents in their own vegetarian journey.
REDUCE. RECYCLE. REUSE. REVITALISE. RELOCALISE.