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New Vegans

Hi All
I need a little help - my daughters have decided to go Vegan! ::)  I was a vegetarian for 14 years and I started eating meat again about 5 years ago.  (Shame on me, but my ex made so many meat dishes that I just broke down) 
My daughters are 13 and 14, and just announced that they are going all the way Vegan.  I see a lot of great recipes here! 
I know that there is always the concern about not getting enough vitamins, calcium, iron, etc. 
Is the best way to get these nutrients from pills or should I just pile on the beans?
When I was a veggie my doctor had me on 6 supplements/day - which I stopped as soon as I stopped nursing my youngest.  I hated the pills and they seemed to make me sick  >:( 
Any suggestions?
The girls just decided on becoming Vegans last week.
Thanks

What a great mom!  When I was vegetarian she just got angry and I ate side dishes.

Okay, here's some basics on vitamins and essentials vegans need:

You need b-12 from somewhere, the easiest way is probably just to buy enritched Silk for cereal and cooking.  They will get enough calcium here too.
Iron is easily found in most means and legumes, like you said.
Get some ground flaxseeds and some flax oil for omega-3s.  Add the oil to anything cold (sneaky in peanut butter, over veggies, etc) and the ground flax can be added to breads, muffins, lots of things...you'll find recipies here.

Otherwise, just check out some of the recipes here for healthy and tween friendly food 9there's lots) and they'll do great!

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Although it can be difficult to get teens to eat a well-balanced diet (whether it be omnivorous, vegetarian, vegan, what have you), it can be done and it can be done without massive supplements via pills--I can't believe your doc had you on 6 different supplements! I, like Stars, applaud you for wanting to help your daughters rather than trying to figure out how to change their minds--way to be supportive!

I recommend the book Becoming Vegan. I got it off of Amazon.com for pretty cheap. There is wonderful nutritional information on there and even a couple sections about how to raise healthy vegan kids. Since I'm barely out of my teens myself (I'm 21) and wasn't vegan as a teenager, I can't offer any specific advice. However, you might want to take a look at www.vegfamily.com (I hope this isn't going against my vegweb loyalty--there is just more info on there about this sort of thing!).

One thing that you should be sure about is *why* your daughters have decided to go vegan. I had a cousin who decided to become vegetarian overnight and it turns out she did so to mask an eating disorder--it was easier for her to turn down food if she said "I can't eat that because I'm vegetarian" rather than have people be suspicious of her eating habits. I'm definitely not saying that this is the case with every or even most teens wanting to go vegetarian/vegan, but you should be sure of their reasons so that they can go about changing their diets in a healthy way since they will need to be more calorie conscious as vegans (in terms of making sure they are getting ENOUGH calories, not in terms of getting TOO MANY). Have your daughters get on this site--I know there are several teens who are vegetarian/vegan on this site and it would be good for them to have a chance to talk to other teens about being vegan.

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Here's a site that your daughters might be interested in:

www.vegetarianteen.com

Looks like there is all kinds of teen-specific info on vegetarian, veganism, raw foods, etc.--anything from nutritional information and recipes to activism, advice, and ways to volunteer.

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The Vegetarian Resource Group (vrg) is a good resource for nutritional info.  They have an article, Vegetarian Nutrition for Teenagers:  http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/teennutrition.htm.  There are quite a few teenagers on this website who aren't getting a lot of support at home regarding their dietary choices, so I'm especially happy to hear about supportive parents.

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Thanks!

My daughters have been PETA supporters for about 3 years and they decided that eating meat was against what they were trying to support.  And like I said I was a vegetarian for many years, and when they were little I ate separate meals from them.  Their dad would make meals for the 3 of them and I would make my own.  They wanted to eat like mom but I didn't think that it was a good idea for them and I didn't want them to be on the same supplements that I once had been on.  They have always loved eating healthy - when they were little they always ate all the vegetables they could.  The girls don't eat candy and if I say grab a treat at the grocery store, it's always broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, etc., never sweets or anything that 'normal' kids would pick.
I think that their intentions are just to be healthy.
Thanks again and I will keep an eye out for any unhealthy eating habits! 

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You are the coolest mom!!!  Besides mine, of course  ;)  Your girls are so lucky to have you!

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I think it is wonderful that you are so supportive of their decision.  So few parents are supportive with grown-we-don't-live-at-home-anymore kids who go vegan!  You are a blessing.

I have vegan/vegetarian kids.  Honestly, as long as they are eating what I serve I don't worry about their nutritional status. We don't take supplements (except that I have to take iron because my autoimmune disorder makes me anemic).  We don't use any soy protein isolate either.  We drink a lot of fortified soymilk with B12 and I don't even worry about that. 

Once upon a time in my vegetarian days, I worried a lot about protein content of meals.  I worried so much, in fact, that I was ignoring the glories of vegetables and not really serving enough of them.  Now, I rarely worry about anything with meals other than fixing enough of the things they love best and with 3 of them being teens, my casserole type dishes are getting larger and larger, but the leftovers fewer and fewer.  The most important thing with vegan kids is calories and getting enough of them.  Because children have smaller stomachs and teens are experiencing rapid body and brain growth, you have to be careful that they are not filling up on empty calories or low food value calories.  Get the most bang for the bite all you can.  Cookies made with fruit, whole grains and nuts are not empty and that is one way to get more good stuff into them.

I have noticed on this board when we all have a day where we ask what everyone is having for dinner, that some people are preparing meals without a visible source of protein.  They are making wonderful fancy salads, dreamy combinations of cooked vegetables and fruit things.  I'd eat at their house and know I would not feel ill from lacking anything (I'd probably also clean them out). 

Dietary needs are a cumulative thing, both in what you get and what you may be lacking.  B12 deficient diet today can take 10 to 20 years to become pernicious anemia.  Whole wheat toast eaten at breakfast combines with the beany salad eaten at noon to make "complete" proteins.  It doesn't have to all be there at any given meal, but it needs to be there at some point over a couple of days.

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its good to hear that they like to eat their veggies. i know many youngsters who want to be veg but don't want to eat produce! good for them!

variety is the key. if you eat a lot of different foods, then you'll be okay.  i would also suggest having your daughters do some hunting around (books or online) about vegan nutrition. they sound like they are mature enough to make this decision and are willing to eat the good foods. not only will it help them understand things better, but also take some pressure off of you to know everything. if they are grabbing veggies for "treats" then i think having them do that would be really empowering for them. also get them cooking to the extent that they can.

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aww, you have to be one awesome and accepting mom! i'm a teen veg too. you could get them to follow what you ate as a vegetarian but change the dairy and egg products to vegan substitutes. a multivitamin will be beneficial.

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to plan their meals in advance.

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I went vegetarian at 13 and vegan a year later. I'll be 21 in a month. I didn't take any supplements until I was 16 and the doctor worked out that I was low in Iron and B12. My mother thought that was a brilliant excuse to pressure me to eat meat again, until the doctor said that I don't absorb Iron or B12. Even if I ate meat I would need supplements. So every 4 to 6 months I get my levels checked. And for a few months a year I take supplements. Veganism did not hinder my development whatsoever (and I have the boobs and brain to prove it). I'm healthy, a bit chubby, fit and happy. My parents didn't know what to do with me, so I didn't eat nearly as well as I do now and I still came out of it healthier than I was as a child.

Just in case you have any of those normal maternal worries, I wanted to put your mind at ease.

P.S. You're daughters are very lucky to have a supportive mum. I had to fight my way through every meal time.

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Your support for your daughters is something to be admired! I'm a vegan teen myself, and support is crucial.
What really helps me as a teen vegan is 1.) Vegweb -amazing support and inspiration, as well as a veghead community :D- 2.) VWaV (Vegan With a Vengenance) and 3.) the ability to explore foods! Before going vegan I knew almost nothing about cooking. That has changed dramatically. Encourage your daughters to cook their own meals. I know that it means a lot more to me now when I'm eating something that I created myself.
Also, planning your meals helps A LOT!Knowing what to cook when is a HUGE timesaver, believe me!
Lastly, just stay supportive. If your daughters go through some rough times with being vegan, just remain supportive and loving. All of us Vegwebbers will be here to back you and offer advice/suggestions.
Enjoy the ride!

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It is wonderful that you are so supportive and are helping your daughters!

I don't think any "extra" supplementation is necessary for vegans except B12. I personally take a once-daily multivitamin without iron, and that's all. I've never been anemic (veg*n for about a dozen years now) and iron supplements are just too much for me. I worked in a health food store for years, and I really have never seen any evidence that further supplementation is necessary for an otherwise healthy veg*n.

If there is a health problem or an extenuating circumstance, that is different. For instance, I need vitamin D (also in my multivitamin) because I am unable to be in sunlight for normal periods of time, and therefore could become deficient. Similarly, if I am travelling and unable to eat a balanced veg*n diet - and find that I am getting too many starches and too few legumes and nuts, I sometimes supplement with a little soy protein, but I don't do that routinely.  Likewise, extra supplements can be great for other unusual situations on a case by case basis - but not as routine nutrition for a person with otherwise good health and a balanced vegan diet.

The vegan four food groups are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes - if your girls eat a few servings from each group from a variety of sources, they should be just fine. That is a balanced diet - and a much healthier diet than is being eaten by their peers!

Best wishes - hope it is a happy journey for all of you!  :)

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Thank you!  Thank you! Thank you!
I can't say it enough - everyone here is so supportive!
I went through the same thing with my mom - no support and I was pretty much left to fend for myself.  I did not want to behave like that when my girls made the decision. 
We went to the library and picked up some great books - I had no idea that you could substitute applesauce for eggs in cookie recipes.  I make an awesome oatmeal cookie and my girls were thinking that they could never have it again  :( but now I see that I can just add some applesauce (we are going to try it out tonight & if it works out I will post it).
I wish that when I was a teen going vegetarian - this kind of support was out there!
Thanks Again  ;D 

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http://www.theppk.com/veganbaking.html

this is a good site that have info on subbing all kinds of things. if you can, pick up a copy of Vegan with a Vengeance (Moskowitz) (her website is the one i linked above). Her book has a lot of good info about vegan cooking and a lot of tried and true vegan recipes. i would have to say that out of the cookbooks out there, this one would likely win "best vegan cookbook" if we voted here on vegweb. threads have been dedicated to it. we love it and you will too.

i will warn you, though, that sometimes subbing things into conventional recipes doesn't work very well-- it is a lot of trial and error. i've never had luck subbing to make cookies (taste good, but are crumbly and fall apart!) but subbing with cakes seems to make a better cake (as in the case with my "carrots and nothing else cake" that i adapted from BC--vegan version melts in your mouth unlike any conventional cake i remember eating).

i'm happy you enjoy us here! we enjoy having you around too! it is always fun to get more people to join our team! team veg!

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i am so glad that you support your daughters my mom wouldn't let me go vegetarian but its kinda my fault im so picky
I remember her "where will you get your protein, that dosen't look good, youll never eat tofu" I was just trying to be open to new foods but i guess it is a little expensive

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I went vegetarian at 13 and vegan a year later. I'll be 21 in a month. I didn't take any supplements until I was 16 and the doctor worked out that I was low in Iron and B12. My mother thought that was a brilliant excuse to pressure me to eat meat again, until the doctor said that I don't absorb Iron or B12. Even if I ate meat I would need supplements. So every 4 to 6 months I get my levels checked. And for a few months a year I take supplements. Veganism did not hinder my development whatsoever (and I have the boobs and brain to prove it). I'm healthy, a bit chubby, fit and happy. My parents didn't know what to do with me, so I didn't eat nearly as well as I do now and I still came out of it healthier than I was as a child.

  I've read that nutritional yeast is high in B vitamins and that some are fortified with B-12 as well (Red Star is, I believe). Is it possible to obtain enough B-12 from the frequent use of this yeast in cooking to eliminate the need for supplementation?

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B12 is a pesky thing, it is sensitive to light. You can't rely solely on nutritional yeast unless you want to take a chance with your health. The best absorbed and most reliable sources are chewable and sublingual B12 tablets. More info here: http://www.veganhealth.org/b12/rec

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Welcome, congrats on making such a positive decision and kudos to you for supporting your daughters! They're lucky girls.

In general, I'd say be open to trying new things, eat a variety of foods, get cooking, and have fun learning as you go along. Everyone here is really nice and supportive and will do their best to help you out with whatever questions, comments, or random thoughts you want to share.

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