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Help! My Daughter's a Vegan

03/18/2010 05:12 am 05:12:02 | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Am I supposed to be happy about this?  For the first time as a parent, I find
myself almost getting into fights about food.

I know it pushes my buttons, because it seems dogmatic and
obsessive.  I hate thinking about
food too much; I love to eat but I have no interest in spending too much time
figuring out what to eat. (Obviously a reaction from my obsessive, dieting
dancer days!)

As for teaching my kids healthy eating habits, I have
focused on helping them eat a range of foods; knowing how to make sure they get
the main food groups, and not to deprive themselves too much.  Things have always been fairly loose,
and I trust them to figure out what they need.  They have always been pretty reasonable and we have never
fought about food.

 Being fairly politic, my kids,  like many others, have played with variations of
vegetarianism.  First the middle
daughter went whole hog and now eats everything.   Then the
oldest cut out red meat but would eat chicken and fish.  The youngest, well, she seemed to do a
morph of the two.  Me?  I am a meat-a-tarian; nothing stands
between me and my T-Bone.

After returning from our time in Africa, my oldest daughter
took her vegetarianism a step further. 
Now admittedly, it is not easy being veggie in Africa where you have game
with each and every meal.  I call
it “My Month of Meat”.  But after
reading about how our food gets to us, not just the meat, but the dairy and how
the animals are treated, she had had it.

I had to listen of course, and try to limit my own comments, as they triggered more militant and dogmatic statements.  Until now, I have had a bit of the “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell”
attitude toward food production and distribution.  I know I am sticking my head in the sand, but hey, I can’t
handle that much anxiety and pressure to think about what not to eat.  Okay, after the last New York Times
article about the dancer getting paralyzed from eating a hamburger, I did think
twice before ordering one from the Shake Shack.  I prayed that I could get away with eating this last burger, and damn, it was good!

 But my kids are pulling me kicking and screaming (figuratively,
not literally), because they do have a point.  Our food production has gotten whacked.  More importantly though, in parenting,
I realize that I need to take my own personal and professional attitudes, and
to a degree, put them aside.  This
needs to be about my kids and what they are saying they need.

So with some protest, and pushing her to make sure she is
getting adequate nutrition and taking enough responsibility to eat properly, I
have had to go against the fact that I hate that she is doing this, and support
her.  It is getting easier.  The more I see she eats healthy, the
more I trust that she will be okay. 

Maybe it will just be a stage.  But for now, I am adapting.  I am learning how to make different kinds of dinners, and
she is cooking up a storm.

 Then I slip in the T-Bone.  Gotta have my meat.

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