Teaching Youth about Veganism

By Whitney Blomquist

Below you will find a brief lesson plan, resources, Power Point slides, and tips on conducting a class that teaches kids the basics of vegetarianism/veganism. Jim Dunn, a VRG volunteer, inspired this lesson plan. He wanted to teach disadvantaged at risk children that a vegan diet can improve their health and still be affordable. The hope is that this lesson plan will inspire and help you to offer similar educational courses to youth groups in your area.

The lesson plan is easily adjustable to meet the needs of students in any region. Each session can be condensed or broken into several sessions. If possible, a food sampling should be included in each session.

If you are interested in handouts for your class please visit:
http://www.vrg.org/getinvolved.php or contact VRG at vrg@vrg.org or call (410) 366-8343.

Click here to get Jim Dunn's presentation: What can I eat if I don't eat meat?

Lesson Plan

Session 1: Introduction to a Vegetarian diet

Activity: Introduce the class to vegetarianism/veganism. A good outline to use is Vegetarianism in a Nutshell. Explain what vegetarians and vegans eat and all the different reasons why one chooses to eat this way. Encourage the class to participate by asking them questions:

  • Do you know any vegans?
  • Are there any nutrients you are concerned about not getting if you were to become a vegetarian or vegan?
  • Do you all know any famous vegans?

Snack: Variety of raw vegetables (carrots, broccoli, celery, and cucumbers) and crackers with different vegan dips:

  • -Hummus
  • -Guacamole
  • -Salsa
  • -Bean dip

Resources for Session 1:

Games for younger groups:

Session 2: Food Prep & Low Income Menu Plans

Activity: Presentation focusing on meatless foods prepared at home or purchased in restaurants.  If possible have a vegan or vegetarian adult come speak to the class. For example, invite a chef from a local vegan restaurant, a vegan farmer from the area, or a vegan service officer (fireman, police officer, or military person). Try to find someone the class can relate to. If you are teaching a class that is largely made up of children or young adults from Latino decent, try to have a Latino adult come in to speak to the class about their veganism.

Demonstrate to the class that eating a vegetarian/vegan diet can be inexpensive, easy and tasty. Give ways to accommodate the need of low income families to prepare delicious meals inexpensively, and show the class that a vegan diet does not have to be boring or bland. Devise menu plans and do a food demo together if possible.

Snack: Vegan chili

Vegan chili recipe

Resources for Session 2:

Session 3: Animal Rights

Activity: Presentation on how eating vegetarian and vegan impacts animals. Discuss the mistreatment of animals to obtain animal products. Show the class a video on animal rights or have a presenter from a local animal rights organization come speak (if possible/practical). Let the class review advertising images the meat industry uses and other animal themed comics or cartoons. A good example to discuss is Chick-fil-a’s “eat more chicken” cow. Examine why most of the animals are smiling or joking around in these images. Ask the class if they think animals are really happy about being eaten/mistreated.

Consider combining this lesson with an additional lesson: “Vegetarianism and the Environment.” Discuss the impact meat consumption has on the environment. There are several lesson plans for different grade levels listed here: Environmental Resources

Snack: Mixed fruit salad

Resources for Session 3:

Session 4: Small group discussions

Activity: If possible bring in adult volunteers and break down into small groups to discuss any questions the kids may have. Encourage the kids to participate and guide the discussion. Be sure to have a list of talking points/questions should the conversation slow down.

You could also take this session to play the “Ethical questions game”. Have the class break into small groups and allow the class to discuss each question for 5-10 minutes.
Examples of questions:

  • “How would your friends feel about you becoming a vegan?”
  • “Would you work in a restaurant that serves meat?”
  • “How would you handle it if you wanted to become a vegan or vegetarian and your guardian, caregiver or parent was against it?”
  • “What would you do if your Thanksgiving host asked you to cut the turkey?”
  • “How do you feel about animal based products other than food? For example: Wool sweaters, leather boots and jackets, or silk.”

Have someone from each group talk about the answers that were discussed and the conclusions that were reached. Allow the other groups to chime in with additional answers and/or questions.

Snack: Spaghetti & garlic pita chips (from Leprechaun Cake and Other Tales)

Pita chips

  • 3 pita breads
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)

  1. Split pita breads in half. Cut each half into several 2-inch size triangles.
  2. Place the cut bread on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Sprinkle bread with half the oil, and half the paprika, garlic powder, oregano, and if you prefer, salt.*
  3. Place the bread under a broiler until it begins to brown (about 3 minutes).* Turn bread over and sprinkle with remaining oil and spices. Place the bread back under the broiler for 1 minute longer to turn it into chips.
  4. Remove the chips. Once the chips are cool they will be crisp and delicious.

*Ask an adult to assist young kids with cutting the pita bread and using the broiler.

Session 5: Contest for the class

Activity: Come up with an activity for the class that demonstrates what they have learned. Some ideas include a cook off, an animal rights poem, a Jeopardy type game, or a veggie rap contest. Jim Dunn had a veggie rap contest for his class, where he asked the class to create a rap that promotes eating vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts. There were first, second and third prize winners. This is a fun way to get the students actively involved in demonstrating what they have learned.

Snack: Vegan party hors d'oeuvres

Tips for a successful class:

  1. Tailor the lesson plan to the age of the kids
    Assess content and appropriateness level to ensure that the content is suitable for the class. If possible, have a narrow age range of kids in your class for example: 7-9 year olds, 10-13 year olds or 14- 17 year olds.
  2. Don’t be set on following your agenda
    Encourage as much interaction amongst the class as possible. If this means time is lost to teach important points, postpone those lessons for the next class session.
  3. Incorporate food into each session
    This shows the kids how great vegetarian and vegan foods can taste and may be what motivates them to come back each session.
  4. Encourage guardian participation
  5. Get the guardians involved if possible or practical. Ask them to participate in a session, help their child make a snack for the class, or help their child with homework for the class.
  6. Don’t assume you are going to make a lifestyle change
    Do your best to introduce your students to a new way of thinking, eating and living. Don’t pressure them into adopting these habits; simply educate the class on the benefits these changes can produce.

Class handout:

Recipes to share with your class from Leprechaun Cake and Other Tales, by Vonnie Crist & Debra Wasserman. These recipes are great for children and young adults to try at home with supervision from their guardian.


Bina's Fruit French Toast
(serves 2)

  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 4 large strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/3 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread

  1. Use a blender to blend together the banana, strawberries, apple juice, and ground cinnamon.* Pour mixture into a bowl.
  2. Soak bread in the fruit mixture.
  3. Cook on both sides at medium heat on a lightly oiled or non-stick griddle until just beginning to brown.**

*Ask an adult to be in the kitchen when young children are using a blender. Remember to unplug the blender when you are finished blending the fruit mixture.

**Ask an adult to help with the griddle. Remember to use potholders or mitts when handling hot pans.


Grandma Lee's Fried Rice
(serves 4)

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped*
  • 1 large green pepper- seeds removed, cored, and finely chopped*
  • 2 scallions (green onions), finely chopped *
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated*
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

  1. Cook rice in water until done. ** (Follow directions on package).
  2. When rice is cooked, add remaining ingredients and stir-fry over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Serve.

*Ask an adult to be in the kitchen when you use a knife to chop vegetables and a grater to grate ginger

** Ask an adult to help with the stove. Remember to use pot holders or mitts when picking up hot pans


Uncle Berto’s Bean Tacos
(Serves 6)

  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped*
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped*
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 19-ounce can kidney beans, drained (or 2 cups of cooked kidney beans), mashed
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Taco shells
  • Shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes*

  1. Sauté onion and garlic in oil.
  2. Add mashed beans and corn. Add spices and mix well.
  3. Heat 5-10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.** Add water if necessary to prevent sticking.
  4. Serve in heated taco shells with shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes.

*Ask an adult to be in the kitchen when young kids use a knife to chop the vegetables.

** Ask an adult to help with the stove. Remember to use pot holders or mitts when picking up hot pots.