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NEA Big Read: Plant-Based Cooking for Kids!

February 12, 2021 at 9:16 AM by

Find out more about the NEA Big Read and all our March programming here!

Incorporating more plant-based recipes into your diet is good for the earth, as well as being a great way to eat more colorful veggies! Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual's carbon footprint from food by up to 73%. 

If you have budding kid chefs at home, check out these children’s cookbooks for easy vegetarian and vegan recipes and tips on age appropriate cooking skills. Cooking these recipes together is also a great opportunity to talk about the benefits of a plant-based diet, from your own health to the health of the planet. Where does your food come from? How is it grown and who grows it? What plant-based meals does your family already eat?

Vegetarian Food
Cooking a meat-free meal doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, it often provides opportunities to try things we may otherwise never have eaten. Readers will learn about tofu and tabbouleh, and all sorts of other fun ingredients and dishes that do not involve meat. Readers learn how to cook for a vegetarian, and learn tips for how to get enough protein into each dish. This book offers creative ideas for meat substitutes and resources for vegan options as well. 

The Jumbo Vegetarian Cookbook
The authors were first introduced to vegetarianism when their daughters announced they were giving up meat. Both moms were initially concerned that a vegetarian lifestyle wouldn't meet the nutritional needs of their growing teens. But a little research proved that kids could maintain a healthy diet without animal products. Following in the footsteps of their highly successful Jumbo Cookbook, the authors filled The Jumbo Vegetarian Cookbook with more than 125 nutritious and delicious meatless dishes, inspired by cultures from around the world! 

The Forest Feast for Kids: Colorful Vegetarian Recipes That Are Simple to Make
Written by popular food blogger Erin Gleeson, Forest Feast for Kids serves up quick, easy, and fun vegetarian recipes that kids will love to make. In addition to its recipes--which span meals, party food, snacks, and beverages--the book includes instructions on how to set a table, ideas for fun and crafty table decorations, guides on how to use utensils safely and a glossary of culinary terms.

The Vegetarian Cookbook: More Than 50 Recipes for Young Cooks
Budding young cooks will be excited by the variety of healthy and fun vegetarian meals that are incredibly easy to make. Each recipe is carefully put together by an expert author and there is a nutritionist on board to check there's a balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, and carbohydrates throughout the book. Studies have shown that lowering your meat intake can be incredibly beneficial for you and your child's health as well as helping the environment. Food fact files and helpful tips throughout the book give advice on how to achieve a balanced diet, ensuring every nutritional need is covered for growing young minds and bodies.

If you really want to get into sustainable cooking, check out this great guide to planting and growing your own veggies and recipes for cooking with them! 

Garden to Table: A Kid's Guide to Planting, Growing, and Preparing Food
Fill your plate with fresh, self-sustained produce that comes straight from your garden. Step-by-step planting, care and harvesting tips give the beginning gardener a good basic understanding of the growing process. Over 30 delicious recipes made with basil, carrots, green beans, leaf lettuce, potatoes, and tomatoes, complete with step-by-step photos, bring your homegrown foods to the table to share with others. Incorporating unique flavors and easy-to-grow veggies, these simple recipes will have you asking for seconds!

Every little bit helps, so even if you aren’t planning to go fully vegan or vegetarian, check out these kid-friendly cookbooks in our KPL collection for recipes to add to your meal plan! 

Forks Over Knives Family: Every Parent's Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy Kids on a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet 
From the authors of the Forks Over Knives Plan comes a complete guide to a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle for your entire family, with more than 125 delicious kid-friendly recipes and tips for raising a whole-foods-loving child in a junk-food-laden world.

The Meatless Monday Family Cookbook: Kid-Friendly, Plant-Based Recipes
The Meatless Monday Family Cookbook features more than 100 delicious, plant-based, kid-approved recipes perfect for busy weeknights, or whenever you feel like trying out a meat-free meal.

Sources Cited: 
Poore, J., and T. Nemecek. “Reducing Food's Environmental Impacts through Producers and Consumers.” Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1 June 2018,