A Vegetarian Who Doesn't Like Vegetables?!

My daughter will not eat vegetables. This presents a problem because . . . she’s a vegetarian. She does not yet know this, but I’ll be breaking the news to her as soon as she is old enough to understand.

I’ve been a vegetarian for 18 years (since I was a teenager). People often ask me if I miss eating meat. I don’t. The only thing I will admit to missing is the Blue Crab of the Chesapeake Bay. I’m from Maryland originally and in my childhood I spent many a Saturday sitting around a newspaper-covered picnic table, carefully picking apart an Old-Bay-seasoning-encrusted crab. I sometimes dipped the crabmeat in vinegar. My Maryland relatives still repeat this ritual regularly. But as for missing hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken and so forth – it’s very easy for me to say that I’m happier without them (what’s in a hot dog anyway????).

So how did I get here and why am I dragging my kid along for the ride? I think it began with a gradual awareness that factory farming is barbaric. I mean, it is one thing to have a small family-owned farm where some reverence for life is actually observed, where the slaughter of livestock is carried out in some (at least vaguely) humane way. But that is not the case with factory farming. As I began to learn more about where meat comes from, I came to the realization that, simply put, I was not worth that kind of suffering.

I come from a loud family of animal-loving smartasses. Some of them follow a vegetarian diet and some do not. My mom makes an amazing vegetarian chili – I swear you’d never miss the meat if you tried her chili. I used to have the recipe but one of my dogs chewed it up. I’ve asked my mom to give it to me again but she’s not done punishing me for the fate of the first one.

Life as a vegetarian can be challenging at times but if I can sleep at night with a clear conscience, then I think it’s worth it. I hope that my daughter will choose to pass through this life in a peaceful way, too. But if she decides to eat Chicken McNuggets with her friends when she’s 16, I’m not going to stop her. I won’t prepare meat myself, though, which is another reason why she is starting out on a vegetarian diet. One of the biggest challenges I face is that I have a horrible sweet tooth (this reminds me of a line from Jim Gaffigan that goes something like this: “your tooth should talk to your ass, then, because that’s where everything is going.”) I don’t have to read the labels on a box of brownie mix – I already KNOW that it doesn’t have meat in it. So I’m a vegetarian but not necessarily a healthy eater, if that makes any sense. I’m trying to do a better job for my toddler, though.

So, how to get vegetables into my darling toddler? Trickery doesn’t work, I can tell you that. The first time I tried to hide a vegetable in some ranch veggie dip, she actually started to eat it but then began to gag and erupted into all sorts of theatrics. Now she is very suspicious of anything resembling a sauce of any kind. Oddly enough, she will eat black beans (do beans count?) This makes me happy because it’s also a protein source. She does eat a lot of soy-based products like Boca Burgers. Well, I take that back – she eats some of her food and throws the rest to the dogs. If you know of a way to get vegetables into a two-year-old, feel free to send your suggestions my way!


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