Well, this is irritating

A magazine called "Parenting" started showing up in my mailbox about a year ago. I have no idea why, in as much as I did not order it. I usually just flip through it while I'm eating dinner. It's actually a pretty decent little publication; I've just drifted away from parenting magazines because I've already kept my kid alive for 4 1/2 years and most such mags address infant-related issues such as "when to start solid foods." This little gem in the October edition caught my eye, though:

Is it cruel to make your preschooler follow a vegetarian diet?

YES 63% NO 37%

This has to be the most skewed survey I have ever seen. The majority of the population eats meat so gee, do ya think the majority of respondents are also carnivores?

The yesses said things like, "I think it is ridiculous to do this to a child."

So, let me get this straight. I am supposed to prepare meat for my child even though I don't eat meat myself? Not only would the smell make me gag, I don't even know HOW to prepare meat (and have no intention of learning). I think the people who voted yes in the survey probably assume that we vegetarians are serving our hapless toddlers a bowl of lentils every night. I don't actually know what lentils are but I'm assuming they are pretty grody. My daughter gets her protein from sources like black beans (which she loves), soy products such as chik'n nuggets (made by Morningstar Farms), eggs, and peanut butter. Like any four-year-old, she isn't too fond of green things. The rule in our home is that you can't leave the dining table until you at least try what's on your plate. So, she may gag her way through a green bean and then wash it down with copious amounts of apple juice (followed by the obligatory shudder), but I think this is typical of many/most kids her age. Her pediatrician has never had even the vaguest concern about my daughter's diet.

Having said all of that, though, I'm trying to raise a free thinker here. I won't be serving meat in my home, but she will always know that she is free to choose her own diet once she's on her own. Likewise, she is free to choose her religion, life partner, etc. Obviously, my hope is that she will remain a vegetarian and continue to find a home in the Unitarian Universalist tradition (and marry a handsome veterinarian who will give me free vet care), but my main goal is to support her in being the kind of person she wants to be as she grows into adulthood. I will weep openly if she joins the Republican party, but I will do my best to accept ALL of her choices.

A has started to notice that what she eats is different from what her friends consume. I just try to keep the explanations in line with her age and reasoning abilities. Ultimately, I want her to understand the importance of walking gently on our weary little planet. We are visiting my mom in Oklahoma and just yesterday my daughter was petting Carol, one of my Mom's chickens. The kid understands that Carol is our friend (a quirky little friend who regularly gets her ass kicked by the other chickens, but a friend nonetheless). We don't eat our friends.

To have some goober tell me that I'm doing something TO my child instead of FOR her is truly irritating. I don't care what other people feed their kids - I really don't. It ain't my bidness. I may not understand the desire to eat meat, but anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm not the type to say, "I can't believe you're eating THAT." Sure, I may secretly wish they'd Google "factory farming" and do some reading, but I would never tell another parent how to care for their child. Well, except for the moms who let their prepubescent daughters out of the house in shorts with the word "Juicy" on the ass. They've got a screw loose, for sure.


Sam said…
Parenting Magazine also comes to our house. For us it's because we ordered from diapers.com and they sold our name, as places like that often do. Someone you ordered from must have sold your name.

And I actually hate that magazine and have stopped flipping through it. It's way too traditional, as evidenced by their vegetarian "survey."

I have to wholeheartedly agree with you about the Republican thing!

And I feed my kid lentils at least once a week. He loves them! Very high in protein and iron! Also, split peas are like a super food for kids. Definitely no need to eat meat in order to have a balanced, healthy diet.
gary said…
it's like any of the myriad polarizing debates out there... immunizations, breast feeding, etc. as long as you're ok with it and it's not harming the kid, who cares?

now, the bigger question is what is a childless dude doing here arguing about mommy/kid issues?!?!
Anonymous said…
Thumbs up on this post. :)
Angela Z. said…
Claudia...I have no problem with feeding your child a vegetarian diet...besides your love of animals being a factor, I think you are helping her eat healthy and have low cholesterol, etc. etc! This is purely a curiosity question on my part...do any of your friends or relative slip her a hot dog when she is in their care, or have you asked your caregivers to refrain from giving her meat? I have another veggie friend who allows her kids to eat meat...she just won't prepare it. Again, I'm just curious as to how you feel about that.
Steph K said…
I now have a crush on you.
Alabaster Mom said…
Hi Angela, thanks for your question - I'm happy to answer! I do not want my daughter to be fed meat when I'm not around. And she's old enough to squawk about it even if someone were to try. Periodically I ask her what she ate at Kindercare just to make sure they are continuing to accommodate her dietary needs. At the elementary school she only gets a snack, but when I sent in the emergency contact card I wrote in "dietary restriction - vegetarian" on the allergy line. Same thing at church for her religious education class.

Having said that, I try not to be over the top about it. I don't restrict her from eating marshmallows or yogurt, neither of which is technically vegetarian. Well, she doesn't actually like yogurt, though the highly-effective commercials for Danimals Crush Cups have tried to convice her otherwise.
Anonymous said…
Is your hubby a Vegetarian? Mine is not although I like you can not cook it, look at it, smell it, etc..

My neighbor gave me 2 cookbooks for my "veg-aversary", one year meat free (last April)

Love your blog, my favorite with Cake Wrecks a close second. Thanks for introducing me to the wreckage!
Just Lisa said…
We're not vegetarians, but I do try hard to keep sweets away from Allie. It disturbs me when she says, "m&m's! I want some of those!" And I'm always thinking, "How do you know what m&m's are? Where are you eating them? Not at home!" My parents think I'm cruel not to let her eat sweets. I think it's crueler to have your teeth drilled to fill cavities and to get diabetes from being overweight!

And I got Parenting magazine free for a year, too. It sucks.
Lisa.Y. said…
I , too, am a victim of the parenting magazine! After the first free year they kept sending them and wanted to charge me $12 a year.

Well, I'm a meat eater and a Republican, I'm afraid. But I agree with you whole heartedly that we shouldn't judge how other people raise their kids. I have lots of vegan and vegetarian friends and when their kids come over I don't sneak them food or try to corrupt them :) The people who took the survey are just ignorant.
Audreee said…
I was also wondering why that magazine just started showing up.

I was actually surprised that the number of people who support a vegetarian diet for kids was as high as it is. I really don't understand why anyone would care what you are feeding your child.

ehhhh.....haters wanna hate
Angela Z. said…
All very interesting...good for you that you were clear with daycare and preschool...I have had my daycare give Ethan things I had explicitly said I did not want him to have...that really ticks me off...hasn't happened in over a year now, but I'm still a little irked. I really should adopt a vegetarian diet since my darn cholesterol is so high! I would find it most difficult to give up pork....do you remember what meat tastes like and do you miss anything in particular? I have to say, the Boca breakfast sausage is not too shabby...I started buying that for the kiddo because it's such a healthier way to get his protein and he loves sausage...he is none the wiser ;) Thanks for blogging...I love reading your posts!
Alabaster Mom said…
The only thing I really miss is the Blue Crab. I grew up near the Chesapeake Bay and eating crabs is a big part of life in Maryland. I can't really thing of anything else I miss, to be honest.

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