Rosa Jackson's Edible Adventures

Wednesday, 11 August, 2010

On being vegetarian in France

Sam Zen
At the restaurant Zen in Paris.

A few months ago, my son Sam declared himself a vegetarian. Now, if we lived in California this might not sound unusual, but this is France, proud land of steak-frites and saucisson, andouillette and tête de veau. What made his decision even more surprising is that both of his parents are meat-eaters. If much of my cooking relies on fresh vegetables from the market, I also can't deny having a passion for steak tartare.

At first I wasn't sure how to react. He had been making noises about becoming vegetarian ever since watching a cooking show on the television channel Arte in which a group of 12 to 14 year-olds visited a rabbit farm to see where meat came from. Picture the poor bunnies dangling from hooks, then cut to the skinned rabbits a few seconds later, ready to be chopped up for lapin à la moutarde. Who could really blame Sam?

For two years (he saw the show when he was five) I persuaded him that eating a little meat and fish is not a bad thing if you choose it carefully. But, as he got older, he became convinced that anything with a heart and a brain shouldn't die in order to feed him. When he started to categorically refuse meat and fish, I decided not to fight it.

I quickly discovered, though, that becoming vegetarian in France isn't so simple. First, there was the school's reaction. The teacher and canteen supervisors came to me saying, "Is he serious?" When I assured them that he was, they frowned and shook their heads. In France, school canteens operate on the principle that every child should eat everything, or at least try everything, unless they have a religious or health reason not to. The upside of this is that France is a nation of unfussy eaters. The downside is that la différence is not welcomed.

I went to see the économe, the woman in charge of collecting money for the canteen, and explained the "problem." She gave me a sympathetic yet puzzled look.

"Vegetarianism is not a recognized diet in France," she said. "We'll have to put everything on the plate even if he doesn't eat it."

Thus, my son who doesn't want to animals to die for his sake still gets served meat or fish every day at school, and has to eat around it.

As any vegetarian who has travelled to France knows, eating in restaurants is also a challenge. Fortunately, I live in Nice where the Italian influence means that gnocchi and fresh pasta with pistou or tomato sauce are nearly always on the menu. Nice also has one of the best vegetarian restaurants in France, La Zucca Magica, where children under 12 eat for free. Paris bistros are a bit more problematic, but since Sam is not fussy in other ways he will settle for almost anything that doesn't contain animal protein (as long as goat cheese is not involved). He is also thrilled to eat miso soup and vegetable maki at my favorite Japanese restaurant, Zen.

Last night, as we were meeting a friend who has also gone off meat (or at least non-organic meat) after reading Eating Animals, I decided to see if we could find a good vegetarian restaurant in Paris. There are a lot more options for vegetarians these days thanks to places like Rose Bakery, Bob's Juice Bar and Cococook, which serve Anglo-style salads, soups and sandwiches, but I was curious to try a restaurant with strict vegetarian principles. For once, I thought it would be nice if Sam could order anything on the menu without having to adapt to a meat-eating world.

A little research on vegetarian websites led me to Tien Hiang, a Chinese Buddhist restaurant with two locations in Paris. The newest branch, not far from the Canal St-Martin, is open for the month of August when most Paris restaurants close for holidays. Though I was a little nervous about taking my friends to such a plain-looking restaurant, I made a booking for the four of us.

The first surprise was the dining room, which although simple was clean and pleasant, animated by the chatter of the French and Asian diners around us. We were handed thick menus listing an extensive selection of dishes, many of them made with "pork," "beef," "chicken" or "duck." As the menu explained, this was not real meat but soy protein designed to imitate meat. A lot of people might argue with the assumption that vegetarians crave the look and feel of meat on their plates, but Sam seemed quite excited at the prospect of eating "chicken."

Spring rolls
Papaya salad

Tempted by nearly everything on the menu, I ordered the green papaya salad, mini Imperial rolls, tofu stuffed with "minced beef" and  sticky rice, while Sam went for the vegetable maki roll and the "chicken" sautéed with onions. The papaya salad was suprisingly spicy, with extra flavor coming from strips of lemon zest. Almost overwhelming on its own, it worked well in combination with blander dishes such as the steamed ravioli. The fried Imperial rolls had a stuffing made of taro root, soy vermicelli, black mushrooms and carrot, with a meaty texture that I could have mistaken for pork.

Fake chicken
Stuffed tofu

My biggest success, though, was the stuffed tofu, which arrived bubbling dramatically in its little clay pot. A difficult dish to make, with a filling of "minced meat," bamboo shoots, mushrooms and cilantro, it cost €8 and was so deeply flavored that I found myself lapping up all the sauce with my sticky rice. Sam was equally happy with his chicken, whose texture he found amazingly like the real thing. Less of a hit was Erica's bun bi (similar to bo bun, a Vietnamese dish of rice vermicelli with vegetables, meat and fried spring rolls), which lacked the tangy fish sauce that normally gives this dish its character.

Desserts are of the sort normally found in Paris Asian restaurant: coconut balls, bananas in coconut milk, litchis in syrup, ice cream. Sam tried one of the more original desserts, a banana coated in sticky rice and steamed in a banana leaf, but handed it over after one spoonful. Drinks are more original, with a selection of organic non-alcoholic beers and slighly fermented juices (there is also Tsing Tao if you're craving the real thing).

I'm happy to have found a place that I can wholeheartedly recommend to vegetarians in Paris, even if I would also warn them that it probably takes a bit of time to discover the best dishes on the long menu. This very satisfying meal cost just €18 per person with drinks.

As for people who ask me whether I'm afraid Sam will be malnourished, I say: he eats eggs, cheese, milk, tofu, chickpeas, lentils, seaweed, whole grains and nearly every fruit and vegetable known to man. Will he be more poorly nourished than a child who subsists on hamburgers and pizza?

Tien Hiang, 14 rue Bichat, 10th, and 92 rue du Chemin Vert, 11th,

Tags: Healthy eating, Nice, Paris, Restaurants


54 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Wednesday, 11 August, 2010 2:32pm [ 1 ]

Thanks for the good restaurant choice, the great post and the lovely evening last night Rosa. I am so glad to have found this restaurant. It is true that reading about how almost all meat and fish are raised and processed in the US makes one think long and hard about what we are putting into our bodies and the bodies of our children. I actually feel ok with organic meat and some fresh fish. As anyone who has spent any amount of time in Paris knows, despite marked progress, eating organic or eating vegetarian in Paris is challenging at the least and often truly frustrating and exasperating. This restaurant (aside from my bland choice) was really tasty and the prices very reasonable. I can't wait to go back and get your fab tofu dish and try some of the other quirky choices on the list. Merci! - Erica

Randy from Paris
Wednesday, 11 August, 2010 3:21pm [ 2 ]

Good article. My partner was vegan until we moved to France 3-years ago. It's a challenge, but agree that Asian food, using lots of tempah to mimic protein (pork etc.) is a main stay, and if you live in Chinatown it's easier to be a vegan, since milk products are not normally in Asian diets.

Wednesday, 11 August, 2010 4:12pm [ 3 ]

Thanks for this article. I am what I call a natural vegetarian, I could never swallow meat even as a small child and have not eaten it since. When we lived in France with my husband's family there seemed to be no way to explain to them that I don't eat any meat, fish or seafood. They kept offering me gibier, volaille, etc, because somehow in their minds that didn't qualify as meat. Nine years later they get it and they are very good about it, making things like couscous without any meat. I totally understand your son's predicament and hope that the French can learn to live with a vegetarian in their midst.

Wednesday, 11 August, 2010 4:13pm [ 4 ]

A great deal of miso soup isn't actually vegetarian, the soup stock is usually made from fish, even though it doesn't taste fishy. There are vegetarian variants available, but you'll have to ask your local if they're using them.

Wednesday, 11 August, 2010 5:38pm [ 5 ]

Very nice blog! I have been a vegetarian my entire 25 years... and living in cattle country in the NorthWestern US I have been pestered by well meaning people trying to 'cure' me for as long as I can remember. I simply laugh them off and eat what I want to. Good for Sam for standing up for his beliefs and good for his mommy for being so supportive.

Wednesday, 11 August, 2010 5:52pm [ 6 ]

Wow, that's a big change but good for Sam! You know I'm not a vegetarian, but it's really nice to see someone his age taking his life choices seriously and recognizing his own potential to make a difference by choosing not to participate in something that seems unjust--go him!

I am, of course, unsurprised by his school's reaction. Oh, France...

Miss you, Rosa! Tell Sam and Phillippe hello from me!

Wednesday, 11 August, 2010 6:01pm [ 7 ]

A vegetarian friend from Canada was living here in Paris for a number of years, and she had some crazy stories. The best one was the "vegetarian" meal in a restaurant on the Normandy coast: omelette, salade, vegetables. The only problem was the brown sauce on the omelette. The waitress first claimed that non, there was no meat in the dish, and they finally ended up talking directly to the chef, who also claimed there was no meat, as it was just a foie gras sauce! !?! So, I think things have evolved somewhat since then, but it is still a struggle for vegetarians here.

Thursday, 12 August, 2010 5:35am [ 8 ]

i'm an ovo-lacto veg (15+ yrs), used to live in Paris. This resto sounds great! can't wait to try it on my next visit.

Just a heads up about the miso soup @ ANY Japanese restaurant, I guarantee that it's made with fish/seafood stock (as are most Japanese sauces beyond simply soy sauce). I'm half-Japanese and currently living in Tokyo. Unless you're at a specifically vegetarian Japanese place, you'll likely end up consuming some sort of fish extract unless you know what to ask for.

Thursday, 12 August, 2010 8:27am [ 9 ]

Erica, I think Paris is making progress with organic and vegetarian food, and it's interesting that the Anglo influence is quite strong these days. I think the French were complacent about their food for a long time, thinking that it was always "natural," but that's no longer the case - though France is certainly better than some other countries. I eat small quantities of meat from a very good butcher and feel fine about that.

Randy: Paris must be full of ex-vegans and vegetarians! You have to be very determined to stick to a restricted diet here.

Kristin: That's very interesting. I think the French do mean well, they just genuinely don't "get" vegetarianism. It's great that your son's family has figured it out!

Hayley: Occasionally Sam teases me by saying "Mmm, I really feel like a hot dog." The he laughs and says, "Just kidding!"

Sara, great to hear from you! I know you are a woman of principle. I'm hoping to be back in New York this year, hope to see you!

Marcus: Hilarious!

Miki: This is the sort of thing I would be tempted not to tell Sam. Is that very naughty of me?

Thursday, 12 August, 2010 2:03pm [ 10 ]

I couldn't help but laugh about Sam being malnourished compared to the kids subsisting on hamburgers and pizza--I think that Sam will eat better, even without meat, than any kid in France!

Saturday, 14 August, 2010 10:21am [ 11 ]

Dear Rosa, Great article. Well done Sam for his concern and conviction to vegetarianism. I live in Paris now, have not eaten meat for 25 + yrs. It is not so difficult to survive in Paris being vegetarian, although I see the challenge at school. Definitely try soya restaurant in the 11eme. It's my personal favorite and also Potager du marais in rue rambuteau. Then there is also the fabulous and cheap maoz falafel by St. Michel. Good luck Sam!

Sunday, 15 August, 2010 9:27pm [ 12 ]

Christine: I don't want to make Sam sound TOO virtuous. Like most kids, he loves candy - the less natural, the better! (Please don't anyone tell me that candy contains animal gelatin!)

Liz, after looking at Soya's website I can't wait to try that restaurant. What an interesting looking place! Thanks for the suggestions.

Monday, 16 August, 2010 3:11pm [ 13 ]

I discovered Coco Cooks last morning in Paris.. I love that Paris loves Quinoa..Hello NYC! The vegan food in London is some of the best IMHO so I will be interested to try this one merci carolg

Wednesday, 18 August, 2010 6:57pm [ 14 ]

I loved reading this. I am a vegetarian who happens to love France and was concerned about restaurant choices when I return to Paris. And good for Sam! I love it when children have convictions and good for you as well for supporting him even though his choice is different from yours.

Thursday, 26 August, 2010 7:04pm [ 15 ]

You can find a list of other vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Paris at Happily Tien Hiang was already on this list!

Sunday, 29 August, 2010 5:24am [ 16 ]

I just found your blog and love it!! My husband is Canadian, my sister was born in Paris and we all love food.


Op Shop Mum
Tuesday, 31 August, 2010 2:49pm [ 17 ]

My son is almost 4 and has been a passionate animal and nature lover since he was old enough to spot a bird flying above. I recently tried explaining to him (as gently as possible) that we do eat some animals and that, yes, chicken is actually - "bluck bluck she flaps her wings -chicken. He has had the experience of catching fish himself and cooking it on an open fire and has now accepted that we eat "swimming animals", but despite my attempts to ease him into meat-eating consciousness, he still says to me with a hint of apprehension in his voice: "but we don't eat walking animals mum". For a kid whose whole waking live revolves around animals (playing with toy versions, drawing them, hugging them, feeding them), I don't have the heart to tell him the bold truth about eating animals. His innocent worldview plays with my nagging convictions about the benefits of going vegetarian (despite how much I love cooking with and eating meat) and I'm thinking that if the whole family turns to a seafood and vegetarian diet perhaps we'd all be better off anyway?

Friday, 17 September, 2010 2:39pm [ 18 ]

Hi Rosa! I've been reading your blog for a while now and really enjoy it. Bravo to Sam for trying out vegetarianism! I've been a vegetarian for the last 20 years and have lived in Paris for the last 4. I agree with you thats its difficult to be a vegetarian here compared to most places in the States and the UK these days. Luckily for me, I love a good salade de chevre chaud, so I'm usually fine on my very occasional visits to bistros. Otherwise, I wholeheartedly agree with your recommendation of Tien Hiang. My husband and I love that place and go often! Indian food is also a good bet for vegetarians, does Sam like it? I can particularly recommend Krishna Bhavan on the Rue Cail in the 10e (near La Chappelle or Gare du Nord Metros) or Saravana Bhavan, also in the same area. Saravana Bhavan is actually part of a worldwide chain of Indian vegetarian restaurants started in India, and we Indians just love it! Check out their website at

Saturday, 18 September, 2010 9:01pm [ 19 ]

Thanks everyone for your supportive comments! You might be interested to know that yesterday a French pediatrician told Sam that if he doesn't eat some meat or fish he will stop growing and remain the size of an 8-year-old all his life. Somehow I doubt that any of you vegetarians who wrote are midgets (which is what I told Sam). It's nice to hear from people who understand and sympathize with his feelings.

Saturday, 2 October, 2010 10:22pm [ 20 ]

A really well-written and telling piece, Rosa. From what I've been reading lately, France is having the same over-fed health problems it campaigned vigorously to correct decades ago. While they don't recognize vegetarianism, they apparently do recognize McDonalds.

I think Sam's conviction (for how ever long it will last) and your support for him and courage to buck what seems an extremely peevish lot are very admirable, Rosa. I wish you a lot of luck. When I casually mentioned to my in-laws that I was migrating to an ovo-lacto diet, it was like drawing a line in the sand. They were furious and thought I was crazy. Nothing's changed. ; D

Haven't visited in a while, but assume you are all well. Cheers!

Monday, 4 October, 2010 7:56pm [ 21 ]

Susan, it's so lovely to hear from you again! And congratulations on your decision. I'm not quite ready to make that move myself (especially given what I do for a living), but I have great respect and admiration for people who do. You are right about the popularity of McDonalds and the growing obesity problem here. The French also eat far too many sweets, and not just the delicious ones sold in the patisseries!

Wednesday, 6 October, 2010 5:09pm [ 22 ]

Rosa -- the delight is mutual. I love Sam's style and as a vegan, I'm cheering him on. If there's anything I can do to make his life (and yours) easier, I'm your go-to girl.

Thursday, 14 October, 2010 3:19pm [ 23 ]

Hi Rosa,

I am the Content & Community Manager of . Our editorial Team has selected your blog to be a part of our program "Travelavenue Favorite Blog 2010". Could you please send me your email? I will present you our program in details.

Many thanks,

Have a nice day,


Thursday, 21 October, 2010 2:56pm [ 24 ]

Visit wonderful romantic dining destination Pergola Kaffee, located near Historical City Center in Bruges... We serve both Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian food..

Sunday, 21 November, 2010 6:45am [ 25 ]

Way to go Sam! Rosa, good thing he did not declare he was gluten free. I will be sure to share your blog with my house rabbits. I am looking forward to seeing you all next summer.

Saturday, 5 March, 2011 7:23am [ 26 ]

Terrific find! Having gone recently plant-based this will be fun to explore indeed next trip. I find better veggie places in Paris than New York. London too has more to offer I think...

Patrick Wilken
Thursday, 31 March, 2011 8:49pm [ 27 ]

Just came across your blog via a Guardian link.

Congratulations to Sam. I've been vegetarian/vegan for about 26 years, but I am always somewhat humbled by those who decide as children to stop eating meat. I think that it shows a great deal of courage and will-power.

A lot of rubbish is talked about the health of vegan/vegetarian children. It's perfectly possible raise healthy veggie children so long as you make sure they eat a balanced diet. As you point out, the standard American diet of fast food is much less healthy and not something that people complain about half as much.

Here are some nice picts of happy vegan children (being vegetarian like Sam is much easier):

The issue re: miso is a bit tough, but given Sam has made a difficult ethical choice I would support him and let him know the truth. He'll find out sometime for sure, and he will probably be a bit hurt if he knew you knew (which he will if he ever sees this blog).

The pediatrician sounds like he knows nothing about diet. Seriously. What a stupid patronizing thing to say to a child.

Yelp is quite a good resource for finding good restaurants. Recently there was a discussion on being vegetarian in Paris with lots of tips:

Good luck to Sam. He's lucky to have such a supportive mother.

Saturday, 2 April, 2011 2:16pm [ 28 ]

I have been vegetarian in France for nearly 40 years and my 7 y.o. daughter isn't and so enjoys eating at school !! Just to say that I discovered around 30 years ago the vegetarian restaurant in Paris which is still my favorite even if we do not leave anymore in Paris, so go not so much that before. This is Aquarius, rue de Gergovie

Sunday, 3 April, 2011 4:05pm [ 29 ]

Thank you creating this post, it's nice to know I'm not alone! I'm 14 years old & british, but have lived in france my whole life. I have been a vegetarian for 2 years and I had to bring my own school meals like a packed lunch to school because they refused to help me because my diet wasn't relative to religion or for medical reasons. Meat substitutes are a luxury to me because I can't buy them anywhere near me, so whenever i go to the UK i get lots of Quorn and freeze it back home. :)

Monday, 4 April, 2011 10:58am [ 30 ]

I agree with you Rosa when you say :"I think the French do mean well, they just genuinely don't "get" vegetarianism. ". It is as simple as that and when visiting France you have to be aware of that and accept it, no need to try to lecture them, just drop the subject and do what you feel like. The problem is the same when you are on a diet, people will always try to tempt you into something off the list ;-) However, it is not difficult to be a vegetarian in France as so much good quality fresh produce is on offer at a very fair price at markets and supermarkets, it is "only" a challenge to find a good vegetarian restaurant, the ones associated with organic shops usually serve pretty boring stuff and traditional restaurants have very few tasty vegetarian options. When we have vegetarian friends over we just eat in or do some research beforehand. A bother maybe but when in London, if I want to eat out I also have to do some research to find a place serving decent food at a decent price. A different battle maybe but also a losing one... Congratulations on your blog Rosa, I am glad to have discovered it thanks to the Guardian article and good luck to Sam, my daughter has 3 options for her school lunch: Meat, no-pork and vegetarian. Great in principle but the vegetarian option offers fish or chicken on a regular basis, yes they simply don't get it! Glad we are not vegetarians (just French and choosing to limit our meat intake)

Monday, 11 April, 2011 1:17pm [ 31 ]

Oh Yes, being vegetarien in France is hard, and being "végétalien" (no dairies, honey, eggs) is almost IMPOSSIBLE.( I try, but you can't share a meal with family or friends, and most of people can't understand, telling you you are mad and must become sick or worse !!). I study at University to become a primary school teacher,and our teachers told us that Vegan are MAD people who are starving their children to death, don't put them at school and believe in stupid things that are dangerous ( sectes...). I was (with others persons) so astonished, so disgusted that we send a letter to "la cour des droits de l'homme" (without return from them).

I love my country, nerves me out sometimes.

Thursday, 28 April, 2011 3:38am [ 32 ]

Hello Rosa, i'm a french and vegan young woman and it's pretty hard to find places and people that are vegan friendly, so i'd like to know how is doing your son, he is really getting me optimistic, he's young but determinated and full of sensibillity, i think you should be proud of him for this. Anyway, if you're in Paris someday, there is a vegan (even macrobiotic) restaurant at Bastille called "le grand appétit" that's sound great doesn't it? And there plate are cheap, delicious, totally vegan, organic and healthy. Enjoy it!

Take care. Kim

helen moore
Thursday, 28 April, 2011 4:45pm [ 33 ]

We've lived in France 7 years, my daughters have been vegetarian all their lives, me for 24 years. They were/are the tallest in their class, one is 13 and 1 metre 75, the other 14 and 1 metre 71. Some of the boys have just started to catch up a bit. Both are top of the class academically too but they also have been on the receiving end of some pretty stupid comments about the suitability of a vegetarian diet from their science teacher, who incidentally, they tower above. They have had to become 'externes' - taking a packed lunch because of the reluctance of the school to offer sufficient vegetarian foods. THey are not allowed to eat this on school premises but instead go to the park which is fine in summer but not good in the breton winter. I heard today from my neighbour that it has just become law here that educational establichments must offer a vegetarian alternative. I hope that she's right.

Saturday, 30 July, 2011 10:39am [ 34 ]

Seems at first that it was pretty nightmarish for Sam. I'm glad he stuck through it! I was in France recently, and as a traveling vegetarians, I lived off breads - croissants, paninis & baguettes. It was all delicious :)

Monday, 1 August, 2011 3:19am [ 35 ]

Ive been vegetarian since I was around 7 years old. All my family eat meat and like Sam I decided I did not want to eat animals from an early age. I think my parents thought it was a phase, but I am happy they understood my reasons and how much it meant to me. Im now 30 and still veggie. Im Irish and was vegan for abit when I lived in the UK but I have not been living in Bordeaux for 4.5 years. I have never had a problem because luckily I always ask if they can mix some side dishes together. Or today I went to a Arab style restaurant and had Vegetables/Couscous and falafels. Im happy i found your blog via the Guardian. France has a long way to come. Thou they do sell quite some veggie/bio burgers/tofu/vegetal hache in the supermarket which is good progress. I turn a blind eye and eat cheese...even if most French cheese contains animal rennet. Sometimes its just too hard to be even more fussy.

Monday, 10 October, 2011 8:51am [ 36 ]


thanks for the article.

I too became vegetarian at age 13, I am 25 now. It came quite naturally to me. At times I was ignored, or ridiculed with various arguments (culture, authority, health, childishness, etc). Today I am glad to find a wealth of resources on the Internet to inform my choices, and to be able exchange on the topic with individuals via sites like this one.

Best regards.

Tuesday, 3 January, 2012 1:38am [ 37 ]

Hi, I'm really impressed by your son to have made such a decision at such a young age and you for your support and belief in him. I think alot of mothers wouldn't have understood and respected such a young child's choice. I've been a vegetarian since birth as both my parents are vegetarian and have been living here since ten years and yes I'm perfectly healthy even if I've grown up on a vegetarian diet, but my parents used to insist on have a glass of milk everyday each morning and evening and we had all sorts of lentils which are good source of proteins everyday as well. In indian food you have a huge variety of lentils with very different tastes that most people don't know about. I think in Paris you do have a lot of places you can eat if you eat dairy products and eggs. I really like shravan bhavan for all the choices available. I also like zango although not a vegetarian restaurant and am a big fan of lebanese cuisine for the variety they have for vegetarians. Creperies are also a safe bet , the best and most authentic ones in Paris I've heard are on rue montparnasse. I found a few blogs recently which i found quite interesting : ex

There are also a few meetup groups on in paris where you can go out for a meal with other vegetarians although sam's a bit young.

Best of luck to both of you

Thursday, 5 January, 2012 7:59pm [ 38 ]

Thank you for your support, Sam's choice seems to have struck a chord with many vegetarian readers! Thanks also for the resources, which will be very helpful. I've heard that the French recently passed a law that requires all meals served in school canteens to include animal proteins. So far the schools in Nice are still offering non-meat options as of September 2011 (which means fish some days and omelettes or "galettes végétales" other days) but I'm concerned that this is going to stop. In the meantime, I have learned to be a lot more creative with my vegetarian cooking at home thanks the blogger Cléa's book Veggie.

cat yunque
Saturday, 14 January, 2012 3:06am [ 39 ]

Sam is one of the new ones coming into our world. I have been a child care worker in the US and noticed 30 years ago that some children being born were different...Old souls with light hearts. A neighbor of mine had rabbits and chickens that she slaughtered regularly to feed the family. Her youngest one day simply looked at the plate and told her mother that she would not eat anything that wanted to live. My friend was frightened by the clarity and determination in her daughters statement. She asked why and the child had no explanation. She attempted to force her but this didn't work. Then she cooked beans with meat and her daughter promptly vomited.
The deception caused her daughter to mistrust her. Finally she accepted her daughters choice. She cooked meals that included her exclusion of meat without interfering with the rest of the family. The child grew strong and healthy and has never to my knowledge returned to flesh eating.
Investigate "Indigo children" are supremely blessed,,,,and I applaud your respect and efforts to support your son.
No leaders No followers Cat

Saturday, 28 January, 2012 1:18pm [ 40 ]

I am in such awe of your son and of you for respecting his decision and helping him along the way, that he came into this realization on his own and made this choice that he felt was right for him being so young is very inspiring. it's amazing how these young kids nowadays are making these really humane and enlighting choices, toward respect and the welfare of animals and it gives me hope for the future. I am not a vegetarian, though I am slowly making my progress there, I now only eat turkey about twice a week, but after reading your story I plan on being more agressive into following what I feel its the right choice for me and stop eating meat all together. I come from a south american family where meat is always on the menu and as I slowly decided to stop they were confused as to what else I would eat. lol. but even then living in the US is a far easier choice for me that it is for your son living in France and going to school. please let him now that I admire tremendously and I wish him the best of luck.

Monday, 30 January, 2012 1:36pm [ 41 ]

Thank you Cat and Melissa for your comments, Sam is grateful for the support, especially as he doesn't get much of that here in France. He seems to be thriving on his veggie diet so far!

Friday, 20 April, 2012 7:57pm [ 42 ]

Yay Sam! My family (including a 4 and 2 year old) and I recently became vegans, after doing LOTS of research. Here in the U.S., the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association support a vegetarian/vegan diet for adults, pregnancy, lactation and children! My in-laws are arriving from France tomorrow and my French husband is excited for me to cook only vegan food for them for a week!
I am just worried about our possible move to France in the future... I have found some French companies that make vegan products and will ship to your home! :)

Sue Appleton
Tuesday, 10 July, 2012 1:27am [ 43 ]

Hi Rosa, Very interesting read, thanks for all the posts. I too am a 'natural' vegetarian, always disliked meat and almost cried for joy when I met a vegetarian for the first time at the age of 18, who showed me it was OK simply to choose to not eat meat. For me it is more a question of taste, I can't bear the texture of meat, though I do on occasion manage to try a very smooth pate or some very crispy bacon or ham. As long as no chewing is necessary it might be OK. Interestingly there is one type of mushroom that has a meaty texture which I also cannot bear, haven't managed to identify it yet.

Anyhow I wonder if you have any advice for vegetarians visiting more rural parts of France where it seems practically every dish at every restaurant contains meat. Is there something you can safely request or say without causing offence? Here in the UK in the old days it was OK to ask for an omelette in the more traditional restaurants, back when vegetable lasagne was the standard vegetarian offering, but even that wasn't always available.

Hope you're still receiving posts! Sue

Wednesday, 11 July, 2012 3:45am [ 44 ]

Unlike Sam, it took me 30 years to decide on being a vegetarian. I wish I had this consciousness at Sam's age. There was a time when I became a hard-core meat-eater and made fun of vegetarians. Not any more. I've never looked back although meeting disapproving glances of relatives and family members who don't really understand. I guess it's some people who get it and some don't.

Saturday, 30 March, 2013 12:58pm [ 45 ]

Sam will avoid to eat egg also when he'll know what it is and how manufactured.I was a non-veg eater since class ninth but usually here and there i used to listen from vegans that vegetarian style is better. I studied about it.Also in my society there is a trend of "animal slaughterage for religious purpose" which is totally a crime act.So watching this as I grew I felt that there were much more issues related to this debate that is why our ancient scientists(rishi-muni) have said to be vegetarian(even egg is non-veg). I found that is not only a crime act to kill animals,I am consuming more resources when I studied my "global footprint". In case of eggs I found that as child abortion is a crime "eating eggs" is same.You are killing hen's chicks. Any synthetic food which are not organic was termed as impure in ancient time in India as well.Now world of vegans are going towards organic food. So I found that when we start becoming about what we eat ,what we use,how we live and research for this we are on the path of creating good life for not only us for the society ,environment and earth as well.

Friday, 10 May, 2013 3:46pm [ 46 ]

After being happily vegan for almost a year we moved to France and it is a nightmare finding ingredients I need or restaurants with ANYTHING on the menu we can have (I've been told we live in the worst region of France for a veggie lifestyle)! Plus living near my in-laws, they've convinced my husband to go back to an omnivore lifestyle and refuse to respect my wishes for our children. Whatever happened with Sam's cantine? Are they forcing the meat at every meal?

Sunday, 12 May, 2013 7:05pm [ 47 ]

Karyn, I'm sorry to hear about your experience, France can be very challenging for vegans! Sam now has a "meat free" menu at school but it includes fish, which is put on his plate whether he eats it or not (he doesn't!).

Sunday, 26 May, 2013 2:19pm [ 48 ]

Fantastic, I always love to hear about kiddies who are strong-willed vegos! I live in Aus, but have been to Paris twice, once when I was 9 and once when I was 17. I became a vegetarian at 5, again because I don't like the way animals are processed for meat. I am so proud of a nice young man like Sam having committed to a sometimes tricky diet. Well done!

Thursday, 27 June, 2013 5:25pm [ 49 ]

Love your blog on Sam. I admire his strength. Life long natural vegetarian from india here. You should go to South India, and you can happily die a vegetarian. please try it!

Tuesday, 18 February, 2014 5:30pm [ 50 ]

Hi there, My husband and I live in SW France, we found it so difficult to eat out as vegetarians that we actually set up our own restaurant in the Lot (46), that serves vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and healthy dishes, attempts organic where ever possible, has some of our own home-grown produce included in the dishes, we stock vegan and organic (and local) beer and wine, organic teas and coffees and we even serve some local free-range meat (it wouldn't be very inclusive of us not to)! It has been very difficult for us in the early stages of our business as I have found that many French people are very uninterested to even try meals without meat but I feel we are slowly making a small break-through despite the prejudices and we have featured in the top 10 restaurants (out of over 400) in our area on Tripadvisor for a while now. We have recently started offering very reasonably priced vegetarian and vegan (full or half-board) holidays so anyone can come and enjoy veggie food in our very beautiful area. Please check us out at

Wednesday, 19 February, 2014 10:10am [ 51 ]

Thanks for your comment Louise, how brave of you to offer vegetarian food in southwest France! Hope to be able to try it someday.

Sunday, 23 March, 2014 3:37pm [ 52 ]

Hi Rosa, Being Vegetarian,That's a challenging and Brave decision for many. Glad people are adopting.

I am a vegetarian from India, and will be traveling to Nice & Provence for a week, could you recommend me a few cafe's / restaurants. That would be of great help. Plus my French is not so good, so I am worried its gonna be difficult to explain!

Laura Shapiro
Saturday, 22 November, 2014 3:33am [ 53 ]

This blog and comments are so helpful. My daughter who has been a vegetarian since she was in first grade (she came to the decision naturally, much like Sam) is looking into student exchange programs to France. The literature says that vegetarianism cannot be accommodated in France. She is indignant. She was so looking forward to using her French language instruction and experiencing the culture. She thinks it is impossible that there are not vegetarian families in France that could host her. It must be much harder than we imagine. Spending her life in California, it's hard to believe that the rest of the world is not so accommodating of her dietary choices. Thanks for pointing out the cultural differences!

Dan Fadil
Wednesday, 15 April, 2015 1:46pm [ 54 ]

Your son's resolve is amazing. I often wonder if I would have gone veggie if I had been raised in France, probably not; and in Spain, I would've done so, but less strict, probably allowing fish and rennet. So yeah, it's admirable.

I don't know if you'd be able to help, but I want to ask: If you were doing a budget holiday in France, do you still think you'd be able to manage it? I'm looking forward to going to Provence (western end) in the next year, but don't want me and my family to be living on breadsticks, Philedelphia and Pizza again.

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