Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mom I'm a Vegetarian

Thanks to my facebook friends, I get comments on my blog posts in a variety of manners. A childhood friend of mine, Shelly, informed me after reading my mac and cheese post from Monday that it was food for thought for her as her son has decided to become a vegetarian. If that's the least I can do it makes me feel good. Now, I am not here to convert anyone. I hope I have made it perfectly clear that I believe I don't want anyone to preach at me about how I choose to live anymore than I am sure people would appreciate it coming from me. I will say I am proud of her for being so understanding while equally concerned that he is still getting all the nutrients he needs. She is an awesome person, and I would expect nothing less. I am sure that the decision of how to deal with a child who chooses to become a vegetarian is difficult for a parent who only wants what is best for their child.
I was an adult away at college when I made the decision on a lark as a New Year's Eve resolution. My parents did not know of my decision until I came home briefly over spring break 3-4 months later. I grew up in a house where we definitely ate meat. My father was a hunter, so I ate my share of venison along with some rabbit and squirrel. Our house was literally right on the water making fish and crab staples of our diets especially in the summertime. We raised chickens, and I know from first hand experience what the saying running around like a chicken with its head cuts off means(yes, the body continues to run around after its separation from the head quite manically for what seems like a long stretch of time but is in all reality only a few seconds.). I am sure I gave my parents quite a bit to digest. I don't at all recall my mother's immediate reaction, but I will never forget my father questioning me about whether I still use glue(what about the poor horsies?). They couldn't really force feed me though especially with me being gone so much at that point in college. My father is a wonderful, kind, generous man. Really, I cannot say enough how much I adore him. I am a good southern girl which means I am a daddy's girl through and through. I know one phone call and my daddy would be right here to do just about anything for me, and he has. But, he still thought of me as his little girl then. So, at our first family gathering since I outed myself as a vegetarian, he had a creative and (only now) comical way of dealing with the situation. I doubt he thought I would still be a vegetarian all these years later. Heck, I don't think I even thought I would. So, I am sure he thought his plan would work. You see my father found a way to put meat in every dish he brought to dinner. Every veggie had meat in it generally of the pork variety like a ham hock or bacon or fatback. Not that unusual though at a Southern meal. The stuffing had shrimp and crab. Different for our family, but not really thinking outside the box. The potatoes had bacon. That was the most obvious attempt. We always have mashed or whipped or smashed potatoes depending on which family member is talking about them made quite simply with milk, butter, and salt. No frills. I think if grandma hadn't made the bread he would have figured out a way to insert some meat into them as well. So, I ate my meal of bread and was unbroken. The lure of a good, salty country ham, one of my childhood favorites(yes my parents called me the ham hound often using ham as a test of how ill I really was meaning I was really sick if I refused to eat ham not just playing at feeling bad.) even that early on would not sway me. In fact, I think his attempts only served to entrench me further. I a hard headed. I come by it honest. I may not have an exact breakdown of what kind of mutt I really am; German, Irish, and English being our best guesses. But, I know without a shadow of a doubt I am 100% stubborn being the child of two quite stubborn parents. My father has since acquessed bringing going as far as bringing meatless gravy to holiday dinners, trying hummus(too gritty for him), and taking into consideration what foods I can eat when picking a restaurant.
In the end, I think that my anemia improving vastly to the point that I no longer have to take iron pills daily since I've become a vegetarian may have been one of the biggest factors in my parents understanding I am making a healthy choice for me. But, it all took time for them to accept that the decision is mine, and that I am being smart about it. In college, I had lots of friends who were both vegetarians and vegans I could look to for advice. I was willing to do research to find out what my options were to make up for any nutrients I might be missing ie omega 3 fatty acids can be found in flax seed and walnuts.
If your child is still a child making this decision, there are a ton of great resources out there especially on the internet. I've talked about them before on my postings about vegetarianism. I know that I rarely post entrees when I post recipes, but that is because I have not been the meal preparer in our household since I've lived with a trained chef for 3 years. I am sure that will all change soon. I encourage people to make an informed decision. And, in the end if you have any questions, I am always here.
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