How A Vegetarian Mom Coped With Her Meat Eating Kids

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Nettie Cronish, co-author of the cookbook Everyday Flexitarian: Recipes for Vegetarians & Meat Lovers Alike, is an avowed vegetarian; so when her young children began eating and sampling various meats outside the home — and loved them — Nettie was devastated.

Although she still doesn’t eat meat, Nettie told the Globe she eventually learned to repress her hostility toward animal flesh and compromised by preparing family meals with an optional meat component.

Nettie was married for 25 years and her husband agreed to be vegetarian when they got married. But when their kids wanted to eat meat, Nettie’s husband said he also wanted to eat meat.

“I think my daughter was 5, and someone gave her a plate and there was some pulled pork on it, and she ate it, and loved it,” Nettie said. “She also wanted to drink milk.”

Nettie explains that her children were very curious about food. They would go to people’s houses, and they would ask to taste things. As they got older, it was, “No, Mom. We can’t do that any more.”

Nettie didn’t want to behave like a dictator, and felt she had to be flexible. “I’d rather they eat a small quantity of good-quality meat than horrible meat.”

So when Nettie discovered that her son was afraid to tell her what he ate at his friends’ homes, Nettie realized she was the one that would have to change.

“I didn’t want him to be afraid to talk to me about anything,” she says. Nettie realizes that food becomes more attractive when it’s not allowed.

“I was determined to be very open-minded, and I didn’t want food to be a source of tension. I didn’t want my kids developing bad patterns or being picky about the food they eat. I think you have to offer choice.”

There was a time when Nettie’s husband had to prepare the meat for their kids because she doesn’t even like touching meat.

“He was the negotiator. He put the inconvenient truths right between my eyes. He more or less said, ‘Well, Nettie, you can have an unpleasant family, or you have to be more accepting and let them figure out what they want to do.’”

All Nettie’s 11-year-old son wants to eat is pizza with pepperoni slices. And because he only likes three vegetables — cucumbers, carrots and green beans — Nettie makes sure to provide him with hefty servings.

When children desire to make meat a part of their diet, vegetarian mothers like Nettie can at least expose them to a few tantalizing meat alternatives like the ones listed below.

Our thanks to Susan for the following vegetarian food options, most of which are readily available.

10 Vegetarian Food Options

veg morning star Top 10 Vegetarian Food Options

Meal Starters

Morningstar Farms Meal Starters.  A great substitute for ground beef.  10 grams of protein.


veg gardenburger Top 10 Vegetarian Food Options

Breakfast “Sausage”

Gardenburger Breakfast Sausage.   It
doesn’t taste like pork sausage, but it’s a great for breakfast dishes
that include other flavorful ingredients. 5 grams of protein.


veg amys 300x168 Top 10 Vegetarian Food Options

Cheese Pizza Pocket Sandwiches

Amy’s Cheese Pizza Pocket Sandwich. A crowd favorite with great tasting ingredients and a powerful protein punch.  14 grams of protein.


veg amys veggie burger 300x182 Top 10 Vegetarian Food Options

All American Burger

Amy’s All American Veggie Burger.
Made with organic vegetables and grains, it’s a tasty burger with a
great texture. Pan fry with a little olive oil spray.  10 grams of


veg michael Top 10 Vegetarian Food Options

Eggplant Parmesan

Michael Angelo’s Eggplant Parmesan. One container will feed two, but it’s good enough for one person to gobble up the whole container.  11 grams of protein.


veg trader Top 10 Vegetarian Food Options

Meatless Meatballs

Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs.
The meatballs have an appealing, tender texture and a pleasant, mild
flavor. They work well with high-flavor sauces or ingredients.  16 grams
of protein.


veg boca chicken Top 10 Vegetarian Food Options

“Chicken” Patties

Boca Chick-n-nuggets.  Tastes more like chicken than chicken!  Serve it to your non-vegetarian friends and see if they notice.  14 grams of protein.


veg morning star bbq Top 10 Vegetarian Food Options

Hickory BBQ “Riblets”

Morningstar Farms Hickory BBQ Riblets. A favorite for kids (and adults, too).  18 grams of protein per serving.


veg blue diamond 153x300 Top 10 Vegetarian Food Options

Almond Breeze

Almond Breeze” Unsweetened Almond Milk.   Is great as an additive for cereals, coffee, and recipes.  1 gram of protein.


veg sheese 259x300 Top 10 Vegetarian Food Options

Cheddar Sheese

Sheese. 100%
vegan cheese in more than a dozen flavors and varieties.  Imported, but
worth the search to find it.  It should be more widely distributed in
the U.S. by the middle of 2010. (Protein grams vary, depending on

And just in case you feel like making a nice vegetarian meal at home, check out our vegetarian recipes.

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Spence Cooper
Inquisitive foodie with a professional investigative background and strong belief in the organic farm to table movement. Author of Bad Seeds: A FriendsEAT Guide to GMO's. Buy Now!
Spence Cooper