1. Research the different types of vegetarianism to see if this is something you want to pursue.
- You could be a lacto-ovo-vegetarian which can have dairy and eggs but no fish (unless your doctor recommends pesco-vegetarianism), poultry, or beef.
- You could be a vegan, meaning that you eat no animal products at all.
- Be serious about your decision and keep it almost like a promise to yourself. Some people are ethical vegetarians (no meat because of animal rights and such), and some are health vegetarians, who choose to go without meat because of the health benefits. Others simply hate non-vegan food.
2. Make sure that your parents support your decision. They normally buy the food and make what’s for dinner. If they make a chicken salad for dinner, you have to eat something else. You will be cooking more as a vegetarian so make sure that if you cannot use the stove or chop vegetables using sharp knives your parents are willing to help.
3. Get some vegetarian cookbooks and start cooking vegetarian food. When you go to the supermarket, look in the organic and vegetarian aisles, since they often have good meat-free options.
4. Research a vegetarian diet. Make sure you’re eating a varied diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans. You might have to take vitamins (although this is more of a concern for omnivores – a proper vegetarian diet provides significantly more vitamins than that of an omnivore). As a kid especially you want to have a lot of energy.
5. Pack vegetarian school lunches — anything from a vegetarian sandwich and some fruits and veggies and nuts to a fake meat lunch. Don’t be afraid to tell people you’re a vegetarian when they comment on your food.
6. Be careful if you are away from home. Make sure there is a vegetarian option available. This may require advance planning on your part.
7. Be sure you know why you want to be a vegetarian. If it is because you love animals and want to stop eating them, then make a promise to yourself that you won’t eat meat any more.
8. Check the labels of the foods you eat. Some foods that may appear to be vegetarian might contain animal-based products like meat, animal fat, rennet, carmine, fish oil, or gelatin. Just look at the label and make sure there are no meat ingredients listed. Be aware of umbrella terms such as “natural flavors”, which are often code words for hidden meat ingredients.
- When you first become a vegetarian, you may have some meat cravings. If you had truly loved meat, then try some meat substitutes, which can be made from soy, wheat gluten, mushrooms, or grains/legumes. When you get a craving, hold it off with some vegetarian food. Contrary to popular belief, protein deficiencies are rare – as long as you aren’t living on junk food, chances are you’re getting more than enough. Beans, nuts, legumes, and grains (as well as dairy and eggs) are all great sources.
- Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you think as a vegetarian. If some people single you out as a vegetarian, it’s OK. Some people don’t realize you are just like them but don’t eat meat.
- If you are the only vegetarian in your family it can be hard with all the meat around you. If you have dinner with your family each night and the meat is getting to you here’s what to do: Ask to sit at one of the heads of the table. Ask for them to also keep the meat products farthest from you.
- If you and your family or friends are going out to a restaurant maybe you don’t want to go to a meat or fish place. Check the menu ahead of time if you want to see what you can get so you don’t have to ask the waiter if something is vegetarian.
- Go shopping with your parents a lot. That way you can pick out good vegetarian foods.
- Some people might want to copy you and think that it’s cool. If kids want to copy you then make sure they also know all the facts.
- If your parents don’t let you pick out your food and they don’t want to buy it for you just save up your money so you can buy it and if they see that you really want to do this they will start to support you and start buying some great vegetarian foods for you.
- Gelatin is found in Marshmallows and gummy candy and is made of animal bones. Remember that this is meat.