“Please pass the vegetables!” may be a scarcely-heard phrase from kids sitting around the dinner table, but the sentiment is becoming more common as adolescents and teens explore vegetarianism.
While very recent and consistent data on the number of vegetarians in the United States is hard to come by, it’s generally estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that one in 200 American children under 18 is a vegetarian (that number reflects mostly teenagers, who have more control over their diets). This increase begs the questions: What does this mean for young vegetarians’ overall health? And how does it impact family life?
Understandably, parents may fear that it’s harder for vegetarian kids to eat a balanced diet and fit in socially. Some vegetarians replace meat with unhealthful sweets and carbohydrates, rather than vegetables and plant-based proteins, and there are news stories about high school vegetarians being teased for their different eating habits.