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When your Fussy Eater turns Vegetarian

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?


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.

About The Author


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.


  1. Hannah Budding Smiles

    I’m a recent addition to the veggie population and my diet consists largely of Quorn because I’m buggered if I can find the time to cook properly without giving Toby the space and time to shake his baby sister from here to next Monday. Fake sausages as toad in the hole with some nice gravy and peas, will Flea eat mushrooms? They hide spinach quite nicely within a bake or tart so are a tasty option too. Courgetti mixed in with spaghetti and coated in so much tomato sauce she won’t notice?! Good luck!

    • Sally

      This is very promising. Obviously, 50% of what you mention is on the “no” list (mushrooms, spinach, quiche/tarts, courgette) but it’s nice to know Quorn sausages aren’t awful – we already use the chicken pieces in fajitas, and the mince in bolognese. Fingers crossed!

  2. Midlife Singlemum

    My DD has been vegetarian since she turned 7 over a year ago. She has an egg every day – either an omelet or as egg salad with mayo. She’ll sprinkle grated cheese on her pasta. For vegetables I’m lucky that she loves avocado so it’s cucumber, tomato and avocado salad with olive oil and lemon juice dressing. Often she’ll have two slices of cheese instead of a slice of cold meat as it were. She’ll also eat cheese on crackers. Other vegetables are cooked into a soup and liquidized to hide the evidence. She’ll eat this with lots of croutons. Vegetable consomme is acceptable with vermicelli in it. And she eats a cut up apple and a banana before bed while I’m reading to her. The other meal is at school where she eats the rice and whatever vegetable the dinner lady can persuade her to eat – I’m not sure what happens there. I have convinced her to eat a portion of salmon t the weekend but she won’t eat tuna unfortunately, or any other fish. It’s not very adventurous as I don’t have time to cook much but it’s not processed food and it does include protein and fruit/vegetables. Good luck.
    Midlife Singlemum recently posted..Sick But Not Too Sick – R2BCMy Profile

  3. Ali - We Made This Life

    Mine have been vegetarian since birth and are fussy eaters, especially my 9 year old. With the vegetables I just blend them into sauces. For protein I put lentils in things that don’t usually have lentils in like chilli con carne because lentils are small and tasteless and they mostly don’t notice. I blend beans into things too. Be careful about iron intake – a glass of OJ with an iron rich food will aid absorption. Eggs and cheese are good for protein too. Eating out is more difficult. Good luck! It’ll probably just be a phase but obviously I think vegetarianism is great and that she is doing a wonderful thing.

  4. Steph Curtis

    This is SO my year 7 girl too, except she won’t eat any fruit at all (but sssh, pretend I didn’t say that). However, we have it covered on the vegetarian front at school, because pretty much all she does eat there is Margherita pizza. Oh and the odd pretzel. Sorted. I’m definitely winning at this parenting thing, huh?! :/
    Steph Curtis recently posted..Internet safety and protecting children onlineMy Profile

  5. Ruth Walters

    I love a challenge! Share with me the complete list of acceptable foods and I will help with Whittle-friendly meals.

  6. Stevie

    I did this to my Mum, I was a horrendously fussy eater. However much like my changes of diet these days, I never stuck to anything for long much to my Mum’s relief. These days I eat pretty much anything and everything, but I have been ‘blessed’ with two fussy eaters.

    My Mother calls it karma … I’m an awful cook and I have no advice I’m afraid except to hope that it’s a phase.

    Stevie x
    Stevie recently posted..Photos of Cornwall with Hot Pink WellingtonsMy Profile

  7. Plutonium Sox

    I decided that I was going vegetarian when I was 4 years old. My mum was pretty despairing of the whole thing too but we managed. I’m still veggie now and I’m not only fully nourished but utterly over-nourished. This is a word that has just come to me. I’m NOT fat, I’m over-nourished. Oh also though, I’m not unhealthy, I did a 50 mile ultramarathon last year and didn’t collapse or anything. Anyhow, she’ll be fine. If she gets that bored of the spaghetti, she’ll either start eating the decent veggie food or stop being veggie, she won’t live on spaghetti for the rest of her school days.
    Plutonium Sox recently posted..Offers and advice from Tesco Baby ClubMy Profile

  8. Becky

    Oh way to go Flea!!!!!

    Raised both mine as veggie and yes industrial quantities of Quorn and fortified cereals are my forte!
    Go you for embracing it. I was 11 when I went veggie and that was 35 years ago and I have hardly wasted away!
    Becky recently posted..Parker IM Premium Fountain Pen in Dark VioletMy Profile

  9. Chris @thinlyspread

    I have raised 4 vegetarian children (did you know that?), two of them would eat anything, two of them would not and sound much like Flea in their approach to food – no one has died. They have all grown into strapping, expensive big people. Fortified cereals are good, eggs are power packs, Quorn and Linda McC have saved me on many an occasion and pasta is always a winner. Always happy to help if you need the advice of an old hand 🙂
    Chris @thinlyspread recently posted..Beetroot Falafel in Pitta BreadMy Profile


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