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Veggie tales: Help for kids who want a vegan lifestyle

October 27, 2008

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The Farb family enjoys a vegan meal at their home in North Lawrence. Teens who want a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle can adopt some strategies that make eating at home or out a little easier.

The Farb family enjoys a vegan meal at their home in North Lawrence. Teens who want a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle can adopt some strategies that make eating at home or out a little easier.



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Fourteen-year-old Sarina Farb could nibble on a piece of bacon if she wanted, but the thought sickens her.

"I have my own food choices," Farb said. "If someone was serving meat and I wanted to try it, I could, but I don't consider eating it at all."

Sarina and her 10-year-old sister, Samantha, have never tasted meat.

"They've always eaten a vegetable-based diet," said their mother, JoAnn Farb. "Probably at least once a week at least one of them says to me, 'We are you so glad you raised us this way.'"

Every night, JoAnn whips up tasty, veg-friendly meals. For breakfast and lunch, it's fruit, salad or the leftovers from the night before.

With the whole family eating vegan, it's easy for Sarina and Samantha to maintain their dietary lifestyle. But other teens and children might meet hurdles.

Judy Carman, animal activist and co-founder of Animal Outreach in Lawrence, says she's seen teens trying to become vegan or vegetarian meet resistance from parents.

"It's hard for them because they're not making their own money, they can't go buy their own food, so that gets tricky," Carman said.

She says attending a community vegetarian function might be a good way for teens to introduce their parents to the lifestyle. VegLawrence has a monthly potluck, for example.

"Everyone is welcome to come, and they don't have to bring food," Carman said. "The purpose is to help people learn how to make vegan food."

Green diet

Some strategies for young vegetarians:

¢ Ask for alternatives: Judy Carman has seen students convince cooks to offer vegan choices. If the school cafeteria fails to offer vegetarian foods, request tofu burgers or salad bars.

¢ Be prepared: The Farb family lives by the "Little House on the Prairie" philosophy for food: They never expect to stumble onto victuals outside of the house. When they leave, they slip grapes, watermelon and oranges into a cooler and cram it in the car. They take vegan-friendly chips or cookies or easy burritos - tortillas stuffed with avocados and beans - just in case hunger hits them.

¢ Get educated: Samantha Farb likes to read a magazine called Vegnews. It features articles with celebrities, recipes and advice.

Comments

preebo 6 years, 10 months ago

As a Vegetarian and the father of two little vegetarians, I would say that this was the biggest point of contention for my wife and I with our first child. She is also a vegetarian, but we were concerned about making the choice for our kids. Eventually, we came down on the side of a vegetarian diet over a conventional omnivorous one for our kids. It really is a personal choice, one that each parent should take very seriously. For us, it is more than just what one eats, but more of a big picture view of our impact on the environment. We grow a small organic urban subsistence garden and greenhouse which makes it very simple for us to continue year-round.

BuffyloGal 6 years, 10 months ago

This article is rather annoying in that the author keeps offering vegan and vegetarian as meaning the same thing. They are very different choices! Both would argue that their diet is healthier.Soy is nice once and a while, but a healthier solution is to adopt an Indian diet of lentils and pulses. There is no need for the meat substitute, especially for kids who have never had otherwise. Meat substitutes tend to be for the adults who switched.If you have teenage children who are talking about vegetarianism, educate yourselves. Salad is not the answer nor is it necessarily a meal. You might find the whole family benefits from the change, both in your diet and in your wallet!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

Tofu,Seitan and Tempeh are reasonable meat substitutes with receipes online.Lawrence is one lucky city. Why? Central Soyfoods is located here which produces the best organic Tofu and Tempeh on the planet. Several local eateries offer Central Soy Tofu on their menu:Globlal CafeThe CasbahZen ZeroLa ParrillaIngredientOrientLocal BurgerTellersThe MercEastside Peoples MktHy Vee Salad barsKU Dorm cafeterias...just askThere are plenty of vegetarian meal suggestions online. Recently we purchased a computerized slow cooker after first locating slow cooker vegetarian cookbooks. Three were located through the Raven Bookstore.

karmaxs3 6 years, 10 months ago

I have two young kids who, though I have offered meat, have both chosen to not eat it. It is their diet of preference, & I'm great with that. I was a vegetarian in college, then included meat in my diet for several years, & am now again a vegetarian. It's cheaper, my cholesterol went down, and I've lost over 20 pounds. That's my choice, and I didn't push it on my kids. It's their choice as well. Oh, and by the way, I really do feel better. :)

Connacht 6 years, 10 months ago

"Why do you need to be so defensive about your dietary choices?"It's not "my" dietary choices I'm defending, but rather the dietary choices that nature has selected for humans. It's one thing to argue against excess of something, but to argue that we should give up a staple of our diet completely based on erroneous or in some cases a total lack of evidence sends up a red flag in my mind. Lets get right down to it, Vegetarianism and Veganism are moral choices, not dietary choices. We need to be aware of this difference.

tvc 6 years, 10 months ago

I can not believe the number of times I have heard that crap about raising a child as a veg! Don't all parents raise their children with their own moral bias?

KansasPerson 6 years, 10 months ago

BuffyloGal (Anonymous) says:"Soy is nice once and a while, but a healthier solution is to adopt an Indian diet of lentils and pulses."I don't know what "pulses" is. Is it a typo or is it something I've never heard of?I love lentils.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

The current meat-based diet that most Americans eat, which depends on factory farmed and slaughtered meat, is an ecological disaster and extremely unhealthy for those that consume it. Being defensive about your participation in that doesn't change the facts.That doesn't mean that you have to be a vegetarian or a vegan to be healthy, or that meat can't be produced in an ecologically responsible way. But the ignorance/apathy of the average consumer means that we are a long ways from that.

jonas_opines 6 years, 10 months ago

Pizzaterianism is the way to go. Except for Saturday Sushi, and Sunday steak.The rest of you are, of course, wrong.

Connacht 6 years, 10 months ago

"Don't all parents raise their children with their own moral bias"Yes, but this crosses a line because it directly impacts the health of the child and the ability of the child to think for themselves. It's not like the parents actually gave these children a choice.

Ragingbear 6 years, 10 months ago

Get these kids psychiatric help. The vegan lifestyle is dangerous, especially to growing children.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

I've been a vegetarian for more than 30 years, and mostly vegan for at least 15. I don't doing anything even remotely resembling proselytizing. People can eat whatever they want, as far as I'm concerned, although the heavily meat-based diet that prevails in this country does have devastating environmental and health consequences.Most vegetarians I know don't doing anything like proselytizing either, but the mere mention of my dietary choices will bring some form of ridicule, good-natured or not, the majority of the time.So cut the oversensitive whining about an occasional newspaper article.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

Tofu is an economical protein choiceBy Bonnie S. BenwickWashington Post10/14/2008If there isn't a block or shred of soybean curd in your refrigerator right now, chances are it crosses your plate only in restaurants, or not at all. Vegetarians, vegans and dietitians know that tofu is high in protein, iron and calcium, has little saturated fat and may help lower cholesterol. Plain tofu is mild, easy to cook with and relatively inexpensive, has a reasonably long shelf life and is more readily available in more forms than it was 16 years ago, when the research firm Soya-tech began tracking tofu sales in the United States.Omnivorous home cooks might be equally aware of tofu's charms, but they are not captivated. The same blandness and spongelike qualities that make tofu so versatile also make it a tough first-time sell. Packaged, it comes in dull beige or white rectangles.With food prices causing pain at the checkout counter and a growing movement to improve the American diet, there ought to be more tofu love. Yet U.S. tofu sales numbers suggest otherwise, falling from a peak of $265 million in 2003 to $244 million in 2007. Studies on consumer attitudes about nutrition, health and soy foods, sponsored by the United Soybean Board, show that Americans are much keener about soy milk, soy-based meat substitutes and soy snacks.An attitude adjustment could start with the foods featured in "Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China." The new memoir by Jen Lin-Liu, an American-born journalist inBeijing who started her own cooking school there last year, includes 29 recipes, several of which are simple tofu dishes.She came up with ways for American cooks to work a little more soybean curd into their weekly repertoire:# Substitute shredded tofu for the pasta in a favorite pasta salad recipe.# Stir soft tofu into scrambled eggs for a creamier texture without adding much fat.# Grill strips of extra-firm or dried pressed tofu that come either plain or flavored with Chinese spices. Use chunks of it in kebabs on the grill as well.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

Seitan is a good vegetable protein source and a great meat alternative. It is made from wheat gluten, and has a wonderful chewy texture and a delightful taste. You can buy seitan as a mix, or pre-made and packaged, from a health food store. You can also make it yourself from scratch with a sack of flour, salt, water and some elbow grease.To make homemade seitan, pour about 8 cups of whole wheat or unbleached bread flour and 1 tablespoon salt into a very large bowl or soup pot. Slowly stir in about 6 cups of water. Keep stirring with a large metal spoon until the mixture forms a ball that becomes very elastic. (It will become very hard to stir. Keep stirring until the dough stops sticking to your spoon. If it is too difficult to stir, you can knead the dough ball for 10 minutes to develop the gluten.)Let dough ball rest for 15-30 minutes. Then remove the ball from the bowl and hold it under cold running water, stretching and squeezing the dough repeatedly until the starch and bran washes away. This may take up to 10 minutes.Form the gluten into a ball and put it carefully into a pot of boiling salted water or herb and vegetable stock. Once the pot begins to boil again, turn the heat down and simmer for one hour. Add more water to the pot if necessary.After an hour, remove the seitan from the pot. Then, bake the seitan in an oven at 350 degrees for about a half hour to form a golden crust and make it firmer.You can also just let it cool as it is, and use the seitan in other recipes or on sandwiches. Either slice or cube the seitan, and use it in any recipe or sandwich where you want a meaty texture and flavor.There are many ways to obtain high quality protein from plant-based foods besides seitan. Other good sources for vegetable protein are beans, legumes and soy foods.Additionally, all vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds and nuts contain various amino acids (the building blocks of protein). By eating a wide variety of these nutrient dense foods, you will be able to obtain an adequate supply of protein.Remember, the average adult only needs 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight a day, which come to about 10 to 15 percent of your total caloric intake.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

Now where in the article does it go after meat eaters. It is merely offering a view of meatless life styles. Meat is not essential. Meat is an excellent source of cholesterol. Dairy products too.Whole grains,veggies and fruits are essential therefore consumed. Some vegetarians do consume dairy and home grown eggs. In our house seitan and tofu are used in a variety of tasty ways. Our children were raised as vegetarians and all are taller than their parents our son being 6'3".Tofu can be mashed,add nayonaise,add mustard,add basil,add garlic,add bell peppers to taste and bingo a tasty dip,wrap or spread is right before your very eyes.Adding a medium salsa provides another dimension and would be delightful with warmed black beans.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

When in college I gave up meat to reduce my cost of living. I then discovered the art of steamed veggies,long grain brown rice, lots of water and red wine. Years later the discovery of Tofu,seitan and tempeh took place.Meatless lifestyles to this day are fiscally prudent.

tvc 6 years, 10 months ago

Jonas, I sure hope you are not going to raise your children that way! ;)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

What would a thread be if nota didn't show up and demonstrate his lack of reading comprehension and general willful stupidity.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

"Eat want you want. I'll go for a nice juicy steak, rare, every time!"It's your suicide.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

Sounds to me that you just don't want to be bothered with thinking about the food you eat, or where it comes from, Connacht. That's fine by me. But why do you have to be so defensive about it? It's your choice, so either live with it, or do something about it. Don't go accusing other parents who do care about it, and do something about it, with being immoral just because of your ignorance about vegan diets, which have been shown to be quite healthy for pregnant women and kids.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

"Although I do believe we eat too much meat, it is still an important part of our diet and necessary for proper development."It's important to eat a wide variety of foods, whether or not that includes meat, eggs or dairy. Many have grown up quite healthy on a appropriately varied vegan diet. And almost certainly much more healthy than someone who grew up primarily on fast- and heavily processed factory foods. "I didn't rise to the top of the food chain to exsist on grass and nuts."This is like saying meat-eaters can't or never eat anything but hot dogs.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

"The vegetarians must endlessly discuss their vegetarianness and keep telling themselves and anyone who will listen how much better they feel since quitting meat and how delighted they are with themselves."Obviously, you aren't any different about your own dietary choices.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

"Simply put, vegetarianism, and to a much larger extent, Veganism, are symptoms of a society that has removed itself from observable reality."Why do you need to be so defensive about your dietary choices?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

Now where in the article does it go after meat eaters. It is merely offering a view of meatless life styles.Meatless lifestyles to this day are fiscally prudent.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

"But the simple truth is, we live in America, and our food is quite healthy to consume."Yea, right, that's why have such a problem with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc."Given how little time these diets have actually been around, it would be hard to conclude that in the long run, they are in fact healthier. And even if they are, it begs the question, by how much?"There's a good deal we don't know about nutrition. But based on all we do know, vegan and vegetarian diets, if done properly, are perfectly healthy for human beings."As I have said, it's not me being defensive about my diet, it's me being defensive against being told that a meatless diet or a diet without animal products is healthier and preferable to a diet that includes such products."I certainly haven't said that. I think a well-balanced diet that doesn't contain a lot of highly processed foods, and not too many animal products can be quite healthy. That pretty well describes most traditional Asian and Mediterranean diets."It's never a good idea to go against the diet that nature proscribes."What nature doesn't proscribe is a diet based primarily on meat and heavily processed foods."People aren't going to respond well to being vilified by those who clearly, whether they preach it or not, see themselves as being morally superior to other people based on their dietary intake."In my opinion, that's precisely what you have been doing in all of your posts here.

Connacht 6 years, 10 months ago

"Those who choose to consume factory-farm meat, poultry, and dairy products should at least be willing to accept responsibility for their effects on the environment."That sentence alone sums up the entire Vegan mindset. You make the accurate statement that factory based agriculture needs reform, but you blame the consumers because you have the time and money to act differently. Like many people, I have very little time outside of work, family, and other activities to pay close attention to where my food comes from, other than that it comes from my local supermarket or occasional fast food restaurant. It says all kinds of things that anyone can be so choosy and so moralistic about their food when there are so many starving people all over the world. Keep the focus on the way in which the food is produced and not the food itself.

KansasPerson 6 years, 10 months ago

Sooooo.... I'm guessing that this family will not be having turducken for Thanksgiving? Or a Thompson's Turkey? :)Seriously though -- I'm going to take a wild guess that 80% (yeah, I just pulled that out of the air) of vegetarians are just quiet about their dietary choices and Pywacket never hears from them. Remember the line about the squeaky wheel.

Connacht 6 years, 10 months ago

There's also another element to this issue, and that's the pushing of a moralistic diet upon children by their parents. It's one thing for an adult to make food choices for themselves, but to push it on their children under the guise of it being healthier and more moral than a diet that includes meat or animal products seems really wrong in my eyes.

Connacht 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm glad there are people in the United States who can afford to be so picky and at the same time, so self-righteous when it comes to their dietary choices. It's amazing what happens when a civilization moves from a general sense of "want" to a general sense of "plenty". Where we once saw meat consumption as an essential part of our diet for thousands of years and a mark of health, we now have people who claim that consuming meat is not only unhealthy, but "wrong". Simply put, vegetarianism, and to a much larger extent, Veganism, are symptoms of a society that has removed itself from observable reality. The simple truth of the matter is that humans have evolved with the need to consume a wide variety of nutrients, including many that come from meat. Our teeth and digestive systems give plenty of evidence to this fact. You are what you eat, and it's a far easier step to transform a cow or a pig into a human than a stick of celery as far as our bodies are concerned. While treatment of animals and the environment is a concern, a balanced diet complete with exercise will greatly aid in a long and healthy life. If you want to make a difference, get involved in politics and demand more of your elected representatives. I promise it will do much more than a cardboard protest sign outside of KFC.

Connacht 6 years, 10 months ago

"What about religion? Do you think it is a positive to threaten children with eternal damnation?"I don't think it's a positive to threaten ANYONE with eternal damnation, and I think that assigning a religious identity to a child who cannot make the choice for themselves is a form of child abuse. Religion is another area where children should make the choice for themselves when they are old enough to do so. "There is a huge obesity epidemic and you are worried about vegetarian kids. Site medical works that a vegetarian diet is not healthy."Amazingly, I can be worried about more than one issue at the same time. I don't believe I ever said that Vegetarian diets couldn't be healthy, provided that the person consuming them finds alternative protein and mineral intake. My problem with vegetarianism has more to do with the moralistic viewpoint against eating meat associated with vegetarianism. I also fundamentally question how wise it is to depart from the diet that nature has proscribed for humans. Traditionally when we've ventured too far from such things, the results have not been favorable.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

" Lets get right down to it, Vegetarianism and Veganism are moral choices, not dietary choices."They are both. But I'm not telling you what you ought or ought not to be eating, and most vegetarians/vegans I know don't either. I do state, quite accurately, that the factory-based agriculture industry is highly destructive, and places extreme demands on resources that could easily be put to much better use. Those who choose to consume factory-farm meat, poultry, and dairy products should at least be willing to accept responsibility for their effects on the environment.

Connacht 6 years, 10 months ago

"Sounds to me that you just don't want to be bothered with thinking about the food you eat, or where it comes from, Connacht."It's not a matter of not wanting to be bothered. I am concerned about where my food comes from, which is why I vote for candidates who will regulate the agricultural market. But the simple truth is, we live in America, and our food is quite healthy to consume. "But why do you have to be so defensive about it?"As I have said, it's not me being defensive about my diet, it's me being defensive against being told that a meatless diet or a diet without animal products is healthier and preferable to a diet that includes such products. It's never a good idea to go against the diet that nature proscribes. "which have been shown to be quite healthy for pregnant women and kids."Given how little time these diets have actually been around, it would be hard to conclude that in the long run, they are in fact healthier. And even if they are, it begs the question, by how much? You see, it only takes a little prodding, and all of a sudden, those of us who aren't vegetarians/vegans are accused of being ignorant and supportive of questionable agricultural practices. People aren't going to respond well to being vilified by those who clearly, whether they preach it or not, see themselves as being morally superior to other people based on their dietary intake.

BuffyloGal 6 years, 10 months ago

"Yea, right, that's why have such a problem with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc"Those are problems of excess. You have no point bozo."-------How about colon cancer? That's a disease of the meat-eating world. It doesn't matter how much you eat.Japan and especially Japanese immigrants to this country have had to deal with a huge increase in cancer and heart disease since their diet after WWII went from a largely fish-based one to that of meat. Not everyone goes for the moral argument, but the health one that is hard to deny when you have the facts.

BuffyloGal 6 years, 10 months ago

"Vegan diets for children (under 18) should be considered statutory child abuse."____Fine, so long as you include the teaching of religion, or smoking in front of your kids, or drinking alcohol in front of your kids, or not wearing a seatbelt in front of your kids, or...

tvc 6 years, 10 months ago

What about religion? Do you think it is a positive to threaten children with eternal damnation? There is a huge obesity epidemic and you are worried about vegetarian kids. Site medical works that a vegetarian diet is not healthy.

tvc 6 years, 10 months ago

I was not given the choice to be a vegetarian when I was a child, and I am still mad at my mom for that. I don't know why she force fed me her belief system.

BuffyloGal 6 years, 10 months ago

Yes red meat, beef, though the Japanese have introduced more pork and chicken as well. You can feed 1000 people soy product for the same amount of land and water it takes to feed a cow to make one hamburger. It's not always about the animal cruelty.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

Excess certainly plays a part, but otherwise, you're misinformed, Defender.

ralphralph 6 years, 10 months ago

Run, Sabrina! Run like the wind!You've been brain-washed.

notajayhawk 6 years, 10 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says: "They are both. But I'm not telling you what you ought or ought not to be eating,"Just after he said "It's your suicide." Yep, not trying to tell anyone what they ought to be eating. "I don't doing anything even remotely resembling proselytizing."Just one of at least eleven posts to this thread that he made specifically not to tell people what they ought to eat. Just like boohoozo never tries to tell people how they should be traveling, how they should be living, etc."I've been a vegetarian for more than 30 years, and mostly vegan for at least 15."The best argument that could possibly be made for meat eating - vegetarian diets obviously have a deleterious effect on brain cells (not that I believe boohoozo started with much).

gr 6 years, 10 months ago

"It's cheaper, my cholesterol went down, and I've lost over 20 pounds."Superb! Some obese people say that eating healthy is more expensive and doesn't help them lose weight .... as they reach for another bucket of fried chicken.Buffy: "from a largely fish-based one to that of meat."You mean, red meat. Fish are meat. Or what would you call them? Although, I would agree fish are better to eat than other meats. Assuming they are pollution free, that is. Also, eating fish or a plant based diet is better for the environment with fish eating being less exploitive than other meat. I recall fish being close to a 1:1 conversion verses something like 10:1 for beef.

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