A guest post by Bambi Bishop – my husband’s college friend, and now, my friend too…
Call us hipsters, but my husband and I take pride in feeding our bodies with the healthiest choices possible (within our means, of course) and this was something we wanted to instill in our children as early as possible. So we knew the topic of food would be one of the first things we had to discuss when we planned on having a baby. But there was really no discussion to be had. Lucas would be raised vegetarian.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t always been like this. I was raised on fish sticks, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, french fries and these things my mom called “pizza rolls” which were unmistakably more roll than pizza. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I really started to take what I ate into consideration. But I can’t blame my parents. They did what they had to do to put food on the table, even having to work two jobs, so frozen meals like these were just easier.
Steve, on the other hand, has been a vegetarian his whole life. Not only has he never eaten a scrap of meat, but he’s never even been tempted. Of course, when it comes to things like bacon, it’s probably better if you don’t know what you’re missing. In the beginning when we started dating, I gave up beef entirely and haven’t missed it since. I was pork-free for about six years when, you guessed it; bacon lured me back into its evil clutches. As far as poultry and fish were concerned, I knew I would never be able to give those up and Steve understood. He never forced me to stop eating meat; he only introduced me to a healthy alternative.
So while I am on board with the vegetarian route, I often wonder if it’s fair to Lucas. He’s not being given the option to decide for himself, like I was. On top of that, all sorts of other questions started to plague me. Will he be getting enough protein? Will he get made fun of by his peers? Will he resent us later? Will he feel the need to try meat behind our backs? They may be silly questions, but I think any concerned parent put in my position would do the same. I even went as far as checking out the school lunch menu online to see if and when he will be able to buy lunch at school. The answer? Never.
As time went on, I started answering my own questions. Protein is in a lot more food than I had originally thought and because of foods like peanut butter, hummus, yogurt, cheese, beans, tahini, Lucas is on his way to be as strong as an ox. The other issues will just have to be dealt with when the time comes. And perhaps in five to ten years, vegetarianism will be more accepted in schools.
But all of those questions aside, the hardest question for me to answer is: How can I “enforce” this lifestyle upon him when I, myself, don’t even follow it? This is one area where Steve and I have yet to agree. There will come a day when I am cooking myself a piece of salmon and he asks to try it. Do I say no? Do I go against my husband’s wishes and say sure, I’d rather you try it at home than behind our backs? I feel like this could turn into a really bad after school program!
I’ve come to the conclusion that we can’t force our son to be a vegetarian. Lucas already has a mind of his own and will do what he wants to do. I will let him try the salmon and let him decide for himself. All we, as his parents, can do is instill in him our beliefs and hope that he takes the good out of what we teach him. And maybe, just maybe, he will go one step further, taking it to the next level and on his way to greatness.