Many of our friends are vegetarians, and Triton and I enjoy the occasional vegetarian meal too. But riddle me this – why is the teen girl vegetarian trend so pervasive in our household and community? At times over the last couple of years, Sophia has announced she was now a vegetarian. Until recently, Ava held on to her carnivore status. But now with two teen vegetarians in the house, we are struggling to keep up.

Not only are our girls following the teen girl vegetarian trend, they are now occasionally dipping into veganism. These left turns come unannounced. One day she’s vegetarian and the next day she’s vegan, leaving the household to shift focus on our food supplies.

girl shelling fava beans in home kitchen

Ava helps me cook sometimes, including this recipe from my Italian nana for her vegetarian pasta with fresh fava beans.

Teen Girl Vegetarian Trend

As two gay dads raising two teen girls, we’ve always tried to be sensitive to their needs while being realistic about ours. Too much indulgence on dietary choices and dislikes raises some pretty spoiled kids. So we’ve provided some leeway for their tastes while still setting some guardrails on how we’ll stock the pantry. Everything in moderation, right?

Now old enough to make pronouncements for themselves, the girls have proclaimed vegetarianism. Except for one small thing: neither of them like vegetables very much. Oh, just that small factor.

vegetable garden seedlings

An early planting paid off this year, allowing us a big summer harvest.

This whole shift is hard on parents. I’ve said for years that I am not a short-order cook who will prepare a different dinner for each member of the household according to their current likes. Nope. Not going to happen in this busy house.

Shifting Menus

With a refrigerator full of traditional food ingredients, we’ve punched up the fruit and vegetables to accommodate our new teen girl vegetarians. Due to their pickiness about most veggies they don’t all get eaten, which spurs a conversation about waste. Waste of resources and money, but also extreme lack of empathy for people struggling with starvation around the world.

The girls’ simple solution is to eat white things. Pasta, rice, bread, cereals and the like were all becoming primary mainstays. Also not healthy.

Another of their solutions was to just eat out. Um, with whose money? We like a good restaurant meal as much as anyone, but that can drain our pocketbooks pretty darn quick.

fresh pasta with fava beans

My nana’s recipe for pasta with fava beans is a hit.

We Are Not Alone

Mentioning this dilemma to friends, we are at a loss as to why this happens around teen girls. He also hear many similar stories. Other parents are experiencing this teen girl vegetarian trend in their homes too. Many of our women friends’ response to our questions tend towards “Oh, I went through that when I was their age too”.

We lament the difficulty of juggling food and menus, and swap recipes for vegetarian dishes the whole family will enjoy. They tell us this is a phase that many teen girls go through, and they will come out of it eventually. Well tick tock.

Fresh ingredients for vegetarian meals

Fresh ingredients are the key to tasty and healthy vegetarian meal.

Vegetarian-ish

When the girls read this, they will be mad for me outing them but this phenomenon is important to note.

We’ve had long conversations about the cute little animals “we brutally slaughter for our own selfish purposes”. I’m sure they must have watched Food Inc. or Fast Food Nation and are genuinely disgusted at some of the abhorrent food practices in this country and elsewhere. Telling them we only buy organic/free range/grass fed does not sway their tide. They are so sure in their positions, and we did raise them to be strong young women who can speak for themselves.

HOWEVER, there is cheating. A hamburger here, a filet mignon there, some chicken nuggets thrown in for good measure. This always comes with their stated allowance that they can waiver now and then. So what about those animal rights? They are too young to call out as hypocrites, because they are learning and experimenting. So we sigh and cook up another steak.

plated huge steak dinner

Vegetarians don’t bother me, but give me a delish ribeye from Omaha Steaks any day!

Prepared Meal Plan Solution

Luckily we live in California where there are plenty of vegetarian options. Because we don’t want to cook multiple meals per day, we researched home meal delivery services in our area. After digging in a bit, we’ve tried Eat Clean Meal Prep in San Diego and have actually been pretty happy with their meals.

Eat Clean Meal Prep delivered a variety of vegetarian meals to our home, and in last week’s delivery we had several delicious dishes including:

  • “Sausage” with couscous and zucchini
  • “Chicken” with pineapple and rice
  • “Chicken” with broccoli and peppers

Made with soy-based proteins and other ingredients, even I enjoyed eating these dishes. They also sent along some delicious prepared overnight oatmeal in a variety of flavors. Fresh juices rounded out the delivery, with flavors like pear, ginseng and red pepper.

delivery of meals from Eat Clean Meal Prep

Meals from Eat Clean Meal Prep come assembled, fully labeled with directions, and ready to heat and eat.

And guess what? The girls actually like this food, and ate it all up! We’re thinking this could be a good ongoing solution.

Other solutions recommended by friends include Purple Carrot, Sun Basket, Thistle and Green Chef. All of these and many more offer vegetarian and vegan meal options. Just googling vegetarian meal delivery provides dozens of companies that cater to this diet. Trick for us is that we have to prepare the meals ourselves. Still, we’re going to try this option as well.

Triton and I can always add a little chicken or meat on top of our plates, right?

vegetarian sausage dinner

Our faux sausage dinner from Eat Clean Meal Prep was delicious!

Lessons Learned

If Ava and Sophia choose to make this a permanent part of their lives, we will support them. In today’s world vegetarianism is quite common for a host of reasons. Regardless of their commitment, their tastes and their own points of view, they are getting old enough to make some decisions for themselves.

We do think it’s important they read up on healthy meals and proper nutrients. Where will they get some of the necessary vitamins and minerals that meat proteins supply? How will they understand that a diet of carbs is not ok?

We found some good information online that you might be interested in looking into:

Help! My Teen Has Just Turned Vegetarian – Healthy Food Guide

How to Feed a Vegetarian Teenager – Vegetarian Nutrition

Vegan and Vegetarian Diets for Kids – Very Well Family

Multi-Meal Household

Guess it’s inevitable that we will sit down to dinner with potentially 2-3 different meals represented (depending on who might be vegan at the time). Triton and I will still love our meat and poultry. Occasionally the girls might too. And as far as the vegetarian meals go – well that’s a work in progress.

tomatoes picked fresh from the back yard vegatable garden

Fresh tomatoes grown in our own vegetable garden provide endless meal options for our vegetarians.