Blog: Life with the veg heds

Blog: Life with the veg heds

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Veg kid

Kids! Turning vegetarian! Who knew?

A note about this coming week: I will be out for spring break and will have little or no access to a keyboard. Therefore, I'm going to be publishing a series of reprinted blog posts, starting today through Easter. But I promised to blog all the way through the 40 days of Lent, so I will pick up regular, original posts for the week after Easter. (After that, no promises!)

Today's Sunday miniblog is about Little Princess and her decision five years ago to become a vegetarian.

She still holds to that, with a few exceptions here and there. She always takes a break over Thanksgiving, eating not only the turkey on that day but whatever is made with said turkey for the rest of the week: sandwiches, soup, turkey pot pie, whatever. She also still goes off veggies only when she is on vacation, both for practical reasons — sometimes we're not somewhere where veggie options are readily available, and sometimes we are visiting family members who forget — and because every once in a while she really craves a KFC bucket, and it's easier to stay strong the rest of the time if she allows herself the occasional side trip.

I'm proud of her convictions. By all rights, they ought to be mine as well. They aren't — not yet, anyway — but she sure is growing on the rest of the family. 

Husband got braces on his teeth a few months ago, to work out a bite correction he's needed for years. The work makes it hard for him to chew on anything particularly thick, like a pork chop, say. He said he'd just as soon go veggie for a while, too. And Slightly Older Princess has long been interested in trying to make her diet more healthy, although to hear her talk, you'd think we've been force-feeding her Twinkies and Cheetos from birth, so she's all about Morningstar "sausage" patties now. Costco is my friend.

Anyway, in keeping with their wishes I have made nothing but veggie dishes for dinner for a little more than an entire month now. I still have the occasional turkey sandwich or burger for lunch myself, but we've been fairly well meatless otherwise.

And my repertoire is running low: Favorite recipe suggestions?

Anyway, here's what things were like back in April 2011:

Wanted: Your tofu recipes

We are beginning new adventures in eating here at Princess Central: Little Princess has decided to go vegetarian.

She explored this route briefly once before, at age 7, when she decided she would no longer eat chicken. And she didn't, but only for a little while. We don't have chicken daily, not even weekly, really, so I'm unclear when she once again decided to pick up a drumstick, but she did.

A little over a week ago, however - April 15, to be exact; I know this because they had her second-favorite lunch at school that day, hamburgers - she told me she was done with meat. Eggs and cheese and honey and milk, yes, but no more meat. She waited until after school, after that one last burger, and said from now on, she wanted to be a vegetarian.

I live with a great deal of food guilt myself, so I recognize her struggle. She loves animals. She is well aware of where her burgers come from. She understands people are predators and that it is possible to live sustainably even while eating meat. And she really, really likes pork chops.

But she's staking out a belief claim for her 9-year-old self: I can live without adding to the demand.

And so she can, and I will support her. But it has made for interesting fodder for the voices in my head, particularly the ones asking:

-- What happens to my, "This is dinner, eat it or not as you choose, but I'm not making anything else" edict?

-- How real is this? What if she changes her mind and then feels really guilty?

-- Will she think less of me for not doing the same? What if I decide to barbecue hamburgers some sunny day (we will have one of those again, right?) and she can't stand it and eats one? At 9, she's a captive audience. Is that the equivalent of bringing a dieter to a dessert buffet?

Husband, true to his nature, is pretty easygoing about the whole idea. It will be good for us to explore more meatless alternatives, he said.

Slightly Older Princess, a true and equal-opportunity carnivore, literally almost can't stomach the idea. "No turkey on Thanksgiving," she warned her sister. Then, remembering our traditional seafood dinner on Christmas Eve: "No more mussels."

Little Princess just set her stubborn little chin and nodded.

So we'll see where this goes. In the nine days since this decision, she's brought peanut butter, egg salad and cream cheese, cucumber and tomato sandwiches to school. She's had the cabbage, potato and carrot portion only of a corned-beef dinner, and the cacciatore only, without the chicken. Easter dinner, which at our house means lamb, included only the mashed potatoes, fruit salad, deviled eggs and peas.

A few days after her announcement, she was invited to a friend's house for Friend's birthday dinner. She and I discussed how to handle it: Should she tell Friend's mom she had become a vegetarian? Should she just eat other things and skip the main dish if it happened to be meat? Should she eat the meat anyway and then explain her decision later, in case she's invited again, so as not to compromise Birthday Dinner?

She opted for B, and as it happened, there were so many other dishes (artichokes, noodles, fruit) that it wasn't an issue. But she is pondering how to handle future invitations.

I am interested to see how she holds to this new conviction. It is hers and she will have to own it in her own way.

In the meantime, I'm on the lookout for some good tofu recipes.

— Jennifer Moody wishes she had half the willpower the rest of her family has when it comes to food.

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