Photo: Jennifer Causey

If your little one decides to cut out meat, here's your game plan to keep everyone full and happy at dinner time. 

Arielle Weg
September 19, 2017

When I told my parents at 9 years old I wasn't going to eat meat anymore, they assumed it was just a phase. But 12 years later, my mom became quite the professional at making meals the whole family could enjoy together. Sure, some nights she had to make a second soup, toss a frozen dinner in the microwave, or mix a small batch of tofu into the main course's sauce. But there was something special (and easier) about eating a meal we could all enjoy together. 

It has become increasingly normal for kids to take the initiative and cut meat from their diets, and we totally understand the concern that puts on you as a parent. What food will you serve your child? Can they eat plain spaghetti every night? Well, no. Turns out children eat way more veggie-forward foods than in the past, and it's strikingly easy to help them cut out meat – just be sure you're serving delicious meals that are plant forward and protein packed to raise a healthy vegetarian.

Of course, every kid is a little bit different with their preferences and tastes, but we compiled a list of our favorite meatless, kid-friendly feasts the whole family can enjoy together. Feel free to add some shredded chicken on top of your helping. Truthfully, I'd like to say I single handedly helped my family cut down on meat consumption over the years, and they only sometimes complained about it. Who knows where this meat-free adventure will take you?

Photo: Iain Bagwell

Romaine, Celery, and Parmesan Salad

If your kid's favorite dining out dish is a classic Caesar salad, then do we have good news for you. This lightened-up version skips the anchovies to keep it kid-friendly (and vegetarian!), for a simple salad that packs great for lunch or as a filling dinner. 

Photo: Greg Dupree

Tortellini Salad with Zucchini and Peas

It might seem a little vegetable forward to toss zucchini and peas into your kid's dinner, but trust us on this one. The cheesy tortellini is kid favorite, and the zucchini sweetens up the dish and acts as just another noodle in the mix. 

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Broccoli, Cheddar, and Brown Rice Cakes

Cheesy inside, cheesy on top, and packaged in a cute rice cake, this dinner main is a winner.

Photo: Victor Protasio

Spinach, Hummus, and Bell Pepper Wrap

If your child is happy snacking on hummus and veggies then this packable lunch or dinner is the perfect veggie-filled option. 

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Hearty Tortellini Soup

Chicken noodle has met its match with this veggie-laden soup. The chickpeas add a dose of filling protein and the tortellini give your child incentive to dig in. 

Photo: Randy Mayor

 Avocado and Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Take classic grilled cheese up a notch with bright tomatoes and creamy avocado. Serve with a bowl of tomato soup if your child like to dip and eat, or enjoy solo for a killer dinnertime sandwich. 

Photo: Whitney Ott

Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan

When it's usually chicken parm night, it can be tricky to find something everyone will enjoy. This version of eggplant and zucchini parmesan creates a perfectly crunchy crust and cheesy topping that your little one will happily feast on. 

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Roasted Veggie Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is the #1 winner when it comes to feeding kids. This version tosses in roasted butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts for the most delicious version of an old time favorite. 

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Ratatouille-Stuffed Shells

This classic cheesy favorite gets a healthy makeover with the addition of zucchini, eggplant, red pepper, and protein-packed chickpeas. 

Photo: Victor Protasio

Tomato, Basil, and Corn Pizza

Forget ordering half pepperoni and half plain pizza. This veggie-centered, homemade pizza pie is better than anything you would get from a store. 

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Basil-Ricotta Ravioli with Spinach

Wonton wrappers make these homemade pockets of cheese an indulgent treat that everyone in the family can enjoy. 

Pasta with Chickpea Sauce

Chickpeas add a ton of protein to the mix, but are masked in this creamy, dreamy sauce perfect for a picky eater. 

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Mini Mozzarella-and-Kale Pita Pizzas

Get the kids involved in the kitchen with these adorable mini pita pizzas. Mix and match the veggies to accommodate your child's favorite toppings, and add the option of your favorite meat for the rest of the family. 

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Tofu and Vegetable Lo Mein

Toss the take-out menu, because this lo mein dish is one you'll enjoy time and time again. You'll love the double protein punch from tofu and edamame, and we promise nobody will miss the meat. 

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

Eggs in Purgatory

Serve this breakfast-for-dinner dish with a side of crusty bread for the ultimate meat-free feast. 

Photo: Brie Passano

White Cheddar and Chive Potato Soup 

Most recipes call for ham or bacon to add a meaty element, but this vegetarian version is creamy and delicious without any.