Thursday, September 22, 2011


Pre-Script: To my vegetarian friends/readers, please take no offense.

I have this sinking feeling that I'm mere steps from vegetarianism. And it worries me a bit. Because, if we're being honest, no one likes a vegetarian except maybe another vegetarian.

So what's this about? As it is, I hardly eat any meat, but I've always reserved the right to have turkey on Thanksgiving (or on a sandwich if it's Boar's Head) and to eat chicken. But just recently even thinking about chicken makes my stomach churn.

No, I am not pregnant. So how can I explain this sudden aversion? I could blame it on re-watching Food, Inc. and feeling mildly ill all over again. Maybe it's the fault of the chicken I cooked recently that just seemed a little less-than-stellar. Maybe it's that weird sensation I get sometimes when I think of chicken and my tongue feels little furry. (And, no, there is absolutely no way to get around the gross and completely random factors of that confession.)

Any way you shake it out, I can't shake this sinking feeling that my chicken-eating days are numbered. Did you see that sentence right there? It sort of made me gag. Add that to the list of reasons why I just might be done with chicken for good.

I tease about no one liking vegetarians (HI, vegetarian friends! I really do love you!), but I am not kidding about the internal conflict created by the idea of a meatless lifestyle. And it's not just a matter of eating meat being more convenient in general. It's all of the implications that come with being 'vegetarian'. Like, am I going to be a 'bad' vegetarian if I don't think to ask if that French Onion Soup has beef stock in it? Or what if I can't resist the turkey on Thanksgiving?

And how in the world will I explain this to my kids? In particular, what kind of impact would being a vegetarian have on Luca, who of late has become very tuned into how I already eat differently than she does? As it is, she notices when I don't have sausage or bacon with breakfast and almost wants to test me about it, aggressively offering me bites of meat off her fork and incessantly questioning my reasons for saying no. So far I've managed to slip by with a 'I have plenty to eat on MY plate. YOU need to eat your own food.' but for how long will that work? I know this seems like a weird conflict to have, but getting her to eat a variety of healthy foods has always been an issue, and if she sees me consistently passing on meat I worry she'll decide to do the same. And, even though this might rile the vegetarians I know, I don't necessarily believe in letting a kid her age (4) become a vegetarian when it's not a choice she's really able to carefully weigh from all angles and make an informed decision about.

Future meat-shunning hippie?

I admit I am being sort of tongue-in-cheek about some of my concerns, and I also realize that much like not having to buy into the belief that I have to label my parenting style (have you SEEN the mommy wars and the women who worry over whether a decision they make about parenting is or is not in line with their self-proclaimed 'style' of parenting, rather than just doing what feels right to them?) I also don't have to label how I eat. I CAN just decide not to eat meat today because the thought of it is grossing me out, but decide TO eat it next week. But I do have some genuine parenting concerns about my impressionable, picky-eating, somewhat eager to be like mommy 4 year old and whether my choice to not eat meat might impact her choices.

SO I am turning to my readership to ask you mommies out there (or non-mommies who just want to chime in) what YOU think about this whole issue. If you're a vegetarian or other-special-diet family, and your kids are on the same eating plan, how's that working out for you? Do you have concerns about the impact to their health, social life, etc. in the long-term? If you're a mixed-status household (like my family where I eat almost no meat, but the hubby and kids love them a good steak) how do you feel about the issue? And for everyone, at what age do you think a child should be given full disclosure about their parents' eating habits and full decision-making power on their own (specifically in terms of meat vs no meat type issues, not in terms of 'please just feed me popsicles and blueberries' issues)?

Thanks for any feedback!