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American Kids Go Vegetarian, Parents Try to Adjust

on 2000/12/1 8:49:02 ( 1633 reads )


WASHINGTON, DC: When James Dusel, 16, announced that he was becoming a vegan -- shunning not only meat but dairy products--his father Jim Dusel, a Baltimore teacher was concerned whether he'd be getting adequate protein. In a past generation, parents might have refused to accommodate such pronouncements, but not in today's more tolerant times, according to this report in the Washington Post. Parents do fret about nutrition and meal preparation, but circumstances have made life easier for the mixed-diet family. "There's a lot more convenience foods," says Reed Mangels, nutrition adviser for the Baltimore-based Vegetarian Resource Group. Teenagers can just "put something in the microwave and zap it." Also parents and kids on different schedules may all be eating different things. Animal welfare is also drawing kids into vegetarianism at much younger ages, according to a recent Roper Poll. Two percent of American children ages 8 to 12 never eat beef, poultry or fish--the same percentage as kids ages 13 to 17. Six years ago, Elisa and Janna Schrank, then 8 and 10, announced that they weren't eating meat anymore (although they continued to eat chickens for awhile, since they think they're "ugly," according to their mother). But when the birds flew the coop too, the Bethesda family eats a lot of vegetable soups, as well as rice and bean dishes. "It's probably better for us," says Tom Schrank. "It's a comical household," says Vida Antolin of Alexandria, whose daughter, Christina Jenkins, 16, "was going to be a vegetarian who didn't eat vegetables." In the two years since Christina stopped eating beef and chicken, she has learned to like a lot more vegetables. Several teenagers said that their parents bought them books and required them to do research before embarking on their meatless regimes. Aside from nutritional concerns of their parents, local teens say their vegetarianism is generally socially accepted by their peers and considered "cool." As for how the meatless minority treats his carnivorous parents, father Jim Dusel says his son is extremely tolerant. At dinner, there's only "minor proselytizing," says the elder Dusel. "But nothing heavy handed."

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