Should parents let their kids be vegetarians?

This link is from a few months ago, but it has come up a few times here and there on various sites.  My question is, should parents let their kids be vegetarians?  I’m sure it’s a noble choice the kids are making and parents should encourage their children to make ethical choices in their lives, blah blah blah.  Personally, I don’t know ANY kids who made good food choices growing up.  The kids I knew grew up on peanut butter and fluff sandwiches, chicken fingers, and french fries.  They were picky eaters.  They ate bland things because they were afraid of different textures new foods had.  They were picky because their parents were picky.  They grew up eating crappy school lunches that served only bland things. 

The article does say the main reason kids turn vegetarian is because they don’t want innocent animals slaughtered.  I think that’s pretty reasonable.  But then the article goes on to say most kids still end up eating unhealthy foods in place of meat that contributes to obesity.  They replace meat with lots of pasta, doughnuts, and candy.  Obviously, vegetarians should eat in moderation like anyone else, but do kids know enough to understand how much beans and tofu they should consume to make up for their protein-deprived bodies? And with 1 in 3 (!) Americans being obese, do these parents know enough to teach their kids how to manage a healthy vegetarian diet, let alone a normal non-vegetarian diet?

When I was 7 years old, I refused to eat meat.  I thought it was gross, and being a vegetarian seemed to be a nice thing to do.  I liked animals, and I didn’t want to hurt them.  I was only vegetarian on days I didn’t like my mom’s meals.  She cooked no less than 3 main dishes containing meat or seafood, 2 side dishes of vegetables, and rice.  Every single day.  I ate maybe…like 10-50% of what she made.  I was picky.  I wanted McDonalds and chicken fingers like every other kid.  During freshman year of college, I gained 20 pounds from chicken fingers.  I hate chicken fingers now, they are the devil.  Chicken shouldn’t look like that.  Anyways, when I came home that summer from college, 20 pounds fatter, I craved everything my mom made.  Rice, meat, veggies, whatever.  I ate more at home than I ever did at college, and I lost 20 pounds that summer.  I didn’t diet.  I ate a variety of foods in moderation.  So basically, it took me 20+ years to learn how to eat a normal healthy diet.  I can’t imagine how hard it is for kids to be vegetarian, so good luck to them.


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