vegetarian kids fussy eaters

Flea announced to the family recently that she was thinking of becoming a vegetarian.

We all laughed heartily because while Flea has a very healthy diet, the “vegetable” part of it consists primarily of carrots, peas and cucumber.

When you look at one of those government-sponsored Eatwell plates that we’re all supposed to eat every day, Flea definitely eats things from all sections of the plate – but she’s very selective about how many items from each section she’s prepared to let pass her lips.

Fruit and vegetables? Sure – so long as it’s apples, cucumber, carrot or peas. Starchy carbs? It’s a yes to bread or rice, but a firm no to potatoes in any form. You get the idea. No beans, no pulses, no nuts, no sauces.

For almost 12 years I’ve congratulated myself on raising a child with a balanced diet. But now she’s only gone and turned fully vegetarian and I am – not to put too fine a point on it – FREAKING out.

A combination of my appalling cooking skills and a child who has voluntarily excluded an entire category of food? Surely, disaster is looming just around the corner? Oh God, she’s going to waste away from rickets, or her teeth will fall out, or – well, I’m not sure what happens if you don’t get enough iron but I bet it isn’t the sort of thing you’re going to want to put on Instagram.

Every time I think of a super nutritious vegetarian dinner like what the proper mothers make, I realise Flea wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. All my ideas contain chickpeas, or beans, or spinach, or onion, or potatoes – or some other ingredient that’s on the nyet list.

I predict industrial quantities of Quorn and fortified cereals in our future.

At home, it’s just about workable – if the menu is topped up with vitamin supplements and a worrying number of eggs. But I’m worried about school.

Don’t get me wrong. The vegetarian options at Flea’s school are superb. There’s a fab range of veggie meals, and a superfood and sprinkles bar, so you can top up your lunch with some goji berries and pumpkin seeds.

Ironically, this is exactly the problem – the menu is full of the sort of flavourful, well-balanced nutrition that my daughter considers to be an insult to her taste buds.

Seriously. I got her to taste my jacket potato last week and she looked at me with tearful eyes and said, “Why would you put that in my mouth?” 

While you or I might be thrilled at a menu that includes pumpkin and sweet potato korma, gnocchi with spinach, a saffron and pea risotto, or spring vegetable and tofu ramen, Flea is less than excited. This means most days, she’s likely to be eating the back-up menu for kids who don’t like the menu choices. So… plain spaghetti with tomato sauce.

You don’t have to be Jamie Oliver to know that’s not ideal.

But what do I do?

I know LOADS of my readers and fellow bloggers are vegetarian and raising veggie children, so help me out if you can – what do you feed a vegetarian child if they’re a fussy eater? Got any sure fire hits in your family?