Vegetarian kids and the rest of the world
I don’t discuss this topic very often on this blog. If you’ve been following along you know that my family is veggie – although not vegan. We don’t eat meat or chicken. When it comes to fish, dairy and eggs – we are careful about our choices, keep things to a minimum and try to buy responsibly. Could you find fault with how we eat? Certainly. From any and all directions.
I don’t try to be perfect. I haven’t tried to define perfect.
This post is not meant to be a complaint. I don’t want to tell you how hard it is for me, because, well, it’s not all that hard. I’ve been living this way for 10+ years. I’m very happy and comfortable.
But you see, around these here parts we are often the only vegetarians in the room. While vegetarianism is certainly not a new idea and, yes, people understand what vegetarian means, in my town we rarely register as a minority.
I’ve had chicken pushed on me – because, apparently, it is not meat. I’ve learned to eat “off the menu” at most local restaurants. I’ve been asked “Why?” and not “Tell me why?” but more along the lines of “Why would you want to do that?” More than once I have been left with nothing to eat at work functions. I have been yelled at by admin staff because “I did not tell them” (for the record I did). I have attended social events and eaten nothing but the starter salad and a couple of carrots covered in butter. But it is not hard – I’ve learned to make do.
This post is not about me, this post is about my kids.
I know that there will always be bullies. There will always be those that do not understand our choices. I can deal with this.
…which is terribly inadequate in light of the uneaten lunches and tears at bed-time.
I don’t want my child to be harassed, embarrassed or bullied about what is in her lunch box. And I can’t help be feel somewhat responsible for the hurt she had endured because of it. In a school of 500 + students, it is very possible that my kids are the only non-meat eaters.
I’ve come to realize that part of my daughter’s insecurity over her “food situation” is that this was not her decision. Our diet is solely based on my choices. As a parent I have made decisions about food based on what I think is the best. I suppose this is normal and most parents do what I have done. But the catch here is my choices are different than others.
And even though we have dialogues about food all the time I’ve realized I have left her unarmed and unprepared for what others will say. She knows in detail what we eat. She knows the difference nutritionally between cows milk and soy milk and almond milk. She knows there is protein in her broccoli and that avocados are full of “good” fats. But if asked “why don’t you eat meat”– she really doesn’t know.
- because vegetarians live longer?
– because it’s not healthy?
- because I love animals?
The pitfalls of being raised a vegetarian. I wasn’t prepared for this.
She doesn’t have the comebacks, the data or facts to make her feel confident in her choices. I want my child to grow up to be resilient and strong, to be able to stand up for herself and be proud of what makes her who she is.
So I’ve decided that at 8, Zoe is big enough to make up her own mind, do her own research and get informed.
I’ve armed her with books and resources.
I’m fully expecting some challenges from her. She will see my inconsistencies and question my choices…”Why do we eat eggs?”…. “Why do we eat cheese but not milk?”
And I’m not sure what my answers will be, but I’m excited about the discussions we will have.
I’m certain she will make me a better vegetarian….
I never claimed to be perfect.