C-VILLE Kids! When beef is not what's for dinner

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Give your toddler a piece of broccoli or bite of salad, and it’ll likely end up on the floor. So how do vegetarian and vegan families cope with finicky palates at mealtime? According to two Charlottesville moms, planning and creativity are key.

“My biggest challenge is not having enough time to cook,” said Renee Bricker, a longtime vegetarian. Because she and her husband work full-time outside the home, Bricker cooks each weekend for the upcoming week. Preparing meals for the whole family, including her 2-year-old daughter, Giana, means hiding the veggies.

“She won’t eat many vegetables plain but will eat them mixed in a soup or stir fry,” Bricker said. Giana’s parents try to give her at least one fruit and vegetable at each meal, sometimes in the form of a fruit smoothie mixed with spinach or kale.

For stay-at-home mom Robin Fetter, an integral part of living vegan is letting other families know it’s possible. On her blog, The Real Vegan Housewife, she writes, “I don’t consider myself to be a ‘granola’ or ‘hippie’ kind of mom. I like to call my style of raising a vegan child ‘realistic.’”  
Rather than spend a lot of money on mock meats or frozen meals, Fetter buys fresh produce and thinks of ways to “veganize” popular dishes. That means making “chicken” nuggets for her 16-month-old daughter, Raegan, by baking tofu marinated in soy sauce.

And if they had any doubts, Fetter assures her readers that, “Yes, vegan kids do have more fun!”

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