RECIPE: My child refuses to eat red meat

jannieOctober 12, 2005

I am cooking for a standard family of four: Mom and Dad, two teen girls, ages 16 and 17. The younger girl recently told me she no longer wants to eat red meat. I have high blood pressure and kidney trouble and doctors have told me to cut down on salt and protein. My husband is a big meat-and-potatoes guy. Everyone likes Italian food. But I don't feel like cooking two main entrees for dinner evety night. Any suggestions, other than to cook a variety of vegetable/starch side dishes along with one meat dish and let each serve themself? Any recommended cookbooks or websites for "blended" families? I am making hamburgers tonight. The little one has told me she will not eat them. Tomorrow I am making cili with beans, no meat, served with rice and various topping-cheese,sour cream, guacamole.

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HI Jannie,

My 10 year old son informed me, about 6 months ago, that he likes animals better than most people, and he doesn't eat people so he was not going to eat animals any more. He refuses anything for which a critter died. That means leather, anything with gelatin, foods with chicken broth. I think of it as a religious choice, becuase for him, that's what it feels like.

It has made my life more challenging, but not impossible, by any means.

I tend to cook whatever I want. I make sure he has options that he can prepare himself (sandwiches, the occasional frozen item like pizza or a frozen burrito, etc.) and, of course he can eat what I am preparing if it does not have animal-death ingredients (his term, not mine). He still eats cheese, which I do not, so our food situation can be interesting at times. He also hates, and has hated consistently since he has been eating solid foods, tomato chunks and onion pieces in foods. That makes it all more challenging.

When I make burgers, I cook a veggie burger in a seperate pan for him.

When we have steak, or something like that, I just let him make himself something, or he eats a baked potato with all the dairy stuff on it and some fake bacon bits. He's only 10, so it is never anything fancy. He makes himself mac and cheese or eats peanut butter and apples.

He wanted to quit eating eggs and dairy, but I drew the line there and I just make an effort to buy the most "free-range" kinds I can so that he can relax a little. He does not like veggies much, so I am just having him try new things, lots of times, in hopes that he will develope some of those likes. When he is eating more veggies, I will then loosen the restriction on him not eating dairy and eggs.

There are a lot of italian foods you can make with no meat. I have made spaghetti sauce and cooked the meat in a seperate pan, taken out some sauce before I mixed the meat in and that way we have something for everyone.

Vegetarian chili is something he can eat, too. We all like it, and I freeze some portions for him to eat when we are having dishes with meat.

I hope I helped a little. It sometimes just takes some creative cooking, as far as the order in which I do things, to accomadate him. Sometimes it takes HIM doing some work, which is great because it is HIS belief, not mine and that way he gets express how important it is to him. I am pretty proud of him for sticking with it, although it is hard sometimes.

Oh, and when we go to other places, we usually take food for him so that we don't make other people feel like they have to jump through hoops and he gets something to eat.


    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 10:08AM
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There are lots of ways in which you can incorporate everyone in your meals.
For example why not make a vegetarian lagsana. You can find a groundbeef like product in most grocery stores in urban settings. It's vegetarian and my meat eating buddies LOVE it. Or serve a salad at most meals. I sprinkle beans, lentils etc. on top and that's my main meal. For the rest of the family it would of course be a side dish.
In general, it sounds like incorporating more beans into your diet might work for everyone. It takes a little getting used to, but you can do it. Even green beans are a good source of protein for your daughter.
My dad put up with my vegetarianism or lack of red meat eating for many years. When I stopped eating red meats my mom bought me poultry based products so when grilling, it worked out fine. I'd eat my turkey dogs..which eventually changed to soy dogs.
And don't forget eggs. You make a pork chop, potatoes and broccoli for the rest of your family, and then you get your daughter to cook herself a few eggs instead!


    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 11:43PM
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For someone who doesn't eat red meat, cooking is a cinch! He likely has really good ideas about nutrition!...Chicken and fish are great sources of protein. I can cook very easily without red meat ( but I do personally NEED a steak now and than!)
But the kid that won't eat any animal food.....that';s hard!....he needs to be very knowlegable about foods to be well fed!
If you have high blood pressure and kidney trouble sounds to me like you would banefit from some chicken in your chili, and turkey in your Italian food.
Smart kid.....we all should be so motivated!
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 8:27PM
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Luckily for you Jannie, there are a lot of vegetarian convenience foods out there now. There's fake sausage, fake sandwich meat, fake burgers, and fake hotdogs. Most of them are not too bad if you're not expecting a carbon copy of the original. So when the family has hamburger, your daughter can have a veggie burger, when you're making ham and cheese for the family, make hers fake ham and cheese, etc. Keep good bread, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, marinated garbanzo or kidney beans, lentil soup, etc. on hand for emergencies or really tough situtations. Kraft macaroni and cheese takes about five minutes ya know. Now for italian, you can brown the meat separately and add it at the end to a lot of italian dishes. Just put a little plate out first for your daughter. But the best thing is if your daughter starts cooking some food for herself. I turned vegetarian my senior year of high school, and that's when I took up cooking. I made my own dinner a lot of nights. I'd make a big casserole on Sunday night and could reheat it over the week. Check out some of the vegetarian cookbooks listed in the other thread here, get her one for Christmas, hint, hint. Another thing you could get her is a subscription to Vegetarian Times magazine. It's pretty hip, I think she'd like it. Luckily I like almost everything food wise, so I had a lot of options to choose from. Your daughter has to learn how to live in the real world, she should not expect mom to cook special for her. But if you all could benefit from eating less red meat, it wouldn't hurt to start experimenting with some recipes for the whole family to enjoy. Add more fish and chicken dishes, and go meatless once a week. My dad is meat and potatoes all the way too, and it is a struggle.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 8:09PM
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I browned together in two tablespoons of butter, an 8-ounce can of sliced mushrooms and a chopped onion. Removed from the heat, then combined with one-pound of ground turkey,6 ounces of grated swiss cheese, two slices of burnt toast torn in small pieces, two eggs, and some salt and pepper. Combined everything using a potato masher, then shaped it into a loafpan. Baked at 350 for an hour. Everyone liked it, even my red-meat hater and DH who insists he hates mushrooms.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 10:49AM
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My 14 yo has been a 'veggie' for the past two years. She doesn't eat ANY meat. She, who was always a fairly picky eater, decided this was important enough to branch out and be willing to try new things.

We usually eat our 'regular' meals and in place of the meat she heats up a non-meat patty/dish. She loves the Morningstar brand and the Quorn (sp) are good also. This has allowed our family to maintain a pretty normal eating routine while allowing her to maintain her routine.

She hasn't really made any other changes. She does eat eggs and dairy. These soy based patties are great. She's had friends that have tried the veggie lifestyle, but didn't want to eat the patties...and they've all gone back to meat because they couldn't stay healthy enough.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 10:17PM
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IMHO, there's no question that if a kid wants to go vegetarian and stick with it, they're going to have to learn how to fix their own food. The world is not going to cater to them and if they don't learn how to fend for themselves they'll be stuck eating junk or going hungry. Been there, tried that, lol!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 4:02PM
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I did that to my poor mother when I was 16. :-) (And I'm still veggie, over 10 years later.) She was great and took it all in stride. Her family-favorite meatloaf became a ground turkey meatloaf, and she discovered that the pan was a TON easier to clean afterwards and as far as I know she still makes it that way even with me long out of the house. Tacos had always been served with small bowls of ingredients, and she just added some refried beans to the mix. We ate a lot more chicken and fish. On the rare occasions when she fixed red meat for the family, there was always something else I could make, or she just did it when I was at a school function or something.

When I do visit now, she cooks a lot of fish (since I still eat that) or I cook, or she'll just make sides that I can make into a main course. We've got it pretty well down by now.

I recommend getting some vegetarian cookbooks and trying some new things out on your family. I'm sure you'll find lots of new treats you'll all enjoy.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 10:11PM
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I think Vegetarian Times magazine was a great idea for your daughter. She needs to start learning to cook for herself, and it is also important for her to start learning some facts about nutrition, although there's nothing in red meat she can't get easily elsewhere.

It is not reasonable for your family to expect you to cook meals that accomodate everyone's desires. Your daughter can make a sandwich and your husband can learn to adapt some as well. I think it is fair for you to ask for their support as this will involve everyone learning some new things.

Your daughter is making a good, healthy choice that will eventually help everyone in your family be healthier and teach them all more about nutrition and to be more conscious of what they eat. These are all good things.

I know this is probably overwhelming to you right now, but it will get much easier. The fact that she still eats poultry and fish will make it much easier on you.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 5:42PM
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We have raised our two sons as vegetarians thought the older one has now chosen to eat meat. They were "picky eaters" and I solved the problem by getting them to do a lot of cooking. Starting when they were eight we picked out two recipes for each boy per week from cookbooks and they would prepare them for supper, at first with my help and later alone. They are both now proficient cooks in fact the older one has had catering jobs. Anyway their nutrition improved a lot after I started above (the allowance was conditional on the cooking) All the best

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 2:27PM
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My 12 year old son has been a vegetarian for one year. He eats no meat/fish/poultry..little bit of eggs. He was like this as a baby. I honor his wishes even though my DH and I eat meat. It is hard for a lot of different reasons-my DH family is making fun of him and will not make any effort to have more veggies. Restaurants have put meat on his plate after he requested no meat. Maybe it is because he is a child??? I am thinking of eating no meat too. My son saw the movie Super Size Me and that did it for him. He tells all his friends at school to see the film.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 2:48PM
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