In western countries, when I am travelling, I always stay in family homes with my friends and thus get in touch with the local culture. Today I thought of the life in these homes and a topic came into my mind that I would like to share with you.
Whenever we stay with a family who has a teenage child, I see the same thing: children do not eat vegetables. You know that we are vegetarians and when we are with a family we usually cook rice, lentils and vegetables for dinner. It is healthy and also delicious food! The parents know that and also tell their children that there will be no meat on the table. The parents try to convince their children that it is good for them if they eat the vegetables but often it ends with the children eating some rice and bread. They just do not like to eat vegetables.
Now let me tell you that this is not a single individual case and also not only four or five families, I have seen many hundreds of families and have experienced this thousands of times. What I would like to ask is why it is like this? I have seen really many children but I could not find one child in any Western country I have been to who would really like vegetables. Why?
On the other hand I see here, in India, how children in families eat what everybody eats, including the vegetables. Of course, some prefer the potatoes to the eggplants, others like tomatoes more than carrots, that is normal, but they eat the vegetables just as they eat the rice and they like it. Also here I am not talking about one child or one family that I have met or seen but about hundreds of children whom I have seen eating in their families or whom we have fed here. So what is the difference?
The answer that comes into my mind for that is pretty simple: the children whom I have seen in India are vegetarians, the children whom I have seen in western countries are not. So there must be something with the meat that they eat or rather the fact that the others do not eat meat. Those who grow up eating meat just do not like the taste of vegetables and do not see is as a normal part of a meal. What else could be the reason? How does this situation occur in the first place?
I have written about this topic many times before, too, and I would like to say parents again: please raise your child as a vegetarian. I think first parents need to educate themselves and realize that their child will not be weak if they raise the child as a vegetarian. It is a common misconception that a child needs meat to grow strong. It is not like this. A balanced vegetarian diet has everything you need. You can trust that all the people here who are vegetarians are not weak. However your children may become weak if they do not eat any vitamins that they get from fresh vegetables.
Teenagers often already have this wrong belief that meat makes them strong and they needed it. I do not blame children or teenagers for this attitude or that they do not like vegetables! A child doesn’t know what it is eating, it eats what you put on the spoon or the plate. It is parents’ responsibility and the opinion of parents that a child learns. Give them the habit of eating vegetarian food from the childhood, then they will eat it later, too. If a child has been given meat daily and then he or she comes into an age, let’s say about 10 to 16, you cannot expect them to suddenly like vegetables, no matter how healthy they are! Give them vegetables from the beginning and leave away the meat instead!
Now some people, as always, may say that vegetarian food is boring. It is absolutely not! There are many different ways how you can cook and eat all different kinds of vegetables. And there are many delicious vegetarian recipes! We are working on filling up our own section of Ayurvedic vegetarian recipes and as soon as we find some time, we will have some new recipes online, too!