We are a family with a growing 6 yr old and would like to know how to make the switch to a vegetarian diet, without hurting nutrition and growth with our child. I especially want to know about foods that contain protein. I appreciate your advice. L.B.
You didn't mention how your six year old feels about becoming a vegetarian. You'll have best success if you engage your child in the process.
Build up to introducing new vegetarian foods, with education, discussion and incentives. Make it fun, a sort of family home schooling adventure. Let your child lead with some suggestions. Go gently and very gradually, especially if there's resistance to the idea of eating different vegetarian foods. You may have to do some compromising.
There is an abundance of vegetarian protein foods: Tofu, beans, nuts, seeds, grains, vegetables, fruits, all have protein. Then there's eggs and dairy, if you go the ovo-lacto route. Get to know all the different vegetarian foods, and discover what you like, and get used to eating new things.
I recommend 'The New Becoming Vegetarian', by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis, and also 'Raising Vegetarian Children', by Joanne Stepaniak and Vesanto Melina. Again, the main thing is to make the transition gradually, be kind to yourselves about it, and enjoy!
Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian