I’m vegetarian (no, I don’t eat chicken or fish either before you ask) and have been for over 30 something years. My wife is not and neither is our dog.
Clearly I was an awkward little sod when I was young as I stopped eating meat when I was around two or three. Legend goes that I saw something not very nice on a Farmer’s Weekly programme and since that sepia coloured day never touched the red stuff, even being taken to the doctors by my worried at the time mum and dad, sorry about that mum and dad!
Now, no one else in my family is a ‘veggie’ and it certainly was never easy in the 80s as a none-eater of meat…trouble was I wasn’t that massive fan of most vegetables either and even today can’t abide the classic peas and carrots on a plate, it’s just so dull.
These days of course things are a lot easier with Linda McCartney this and that and loads of Quorn items etc. So if our child decides to go down the carnivore route will I object? Of course not. Will I insist that our child only eats veggie items? Of course not.
There are quite a few websites out there showing how you can bring up baby as a vegan or as a vegetarian and it can be done healthily. I think sometimes it is drummed into us that we must eat X, Y, Z to be normal and clearly meat isn’t for everyone. I must admit sometimes I did get looked at as if I was The Elephant Man for not eating meat and told I was pale because I didn’t eat the red stuff, this became less frequent during the BSE crisis where I think some people thought I was going to be like Will Smith in I Am Legend and be the last man alive.
Looking at some of these sites some say that you need meat as a balanced healthy diet; I’ll take that with a pinch of salt though really as I was rarely ever ill and my mum insisted I take multi-vitamins. Whilst there are others that say meat can cause certain cancers and that people have brought up their children on meat free sausages and the like.
As I mentioned earlier our dog eats meat and I would never even think of forcing veggie dog food down it, as some people do, even though ironically even she hates carrots, even going so far to pick them out of her food and neatly stack them next to her bowl. Even as that small child I made my own decision but the dog or our child wouldn’t be making that choice that would fundamentally be wrong. I couldn’t impose something that is a matter of principle for me on someone too young to have principles of their own.
Naturally there will come a time when asked where does meat come from and no doubt shock that the baby lamb in the petting zoo and the funny piglets will end up in our supermarkets and bellies – pigs hanging in butcher’s windows really does it for me and even my wife can’t stand to see those lorries full of sheep and pigs travelling down the motorway to their final destination. But at least then they’ll have principles of their own.
Will you catch me cutting a family roast or flipping burgers on the Barbie? Nope, but I’ll get by. I managed quite well in a family of meat eaters previously so will manage quite well in this growing one. I don’t think people eat the truck load of meat that they used to as it’s just not healthy and to be fair we both each veggie much of the time due to convenience. I think we will become more aware of the crap that gets put into our food, that’s happening now with my wife as what she eats, the baby eats.
I may have grown out of eating ‘dry bread’ sandwiches (no butter or nothing, Christ, am surprised that no one accused my mum and dad of neglect) but some eating habits die harder, that was habits not rabbits by the way.