There are three essential things that you should know before we get started:
1. I am a vegetarian.
2. N is also a vegetarian.
3. Our children are not vegetarians.
Okay? Let’s do this.
So, I’ve been a vegetarian for eight years now. It wasn’t a gradual thing. One night I watched a documentary about chicken farming in Britain (FYI, it’s not great) while eating a Marks & Spencers chicken risotto and the next day I declared myself a vegetarian and haven’t touched meat since. You hate me a little bit right now, don’t you? The thing is, I’m not one of those self-righteous, sanctimonious vegetarians who goes around telling people how evil they are for eating meat. Aside from the fact that that’s an asshole thing to do and I am definitely not an asshole, I get that shit from self-righteous, sanctimonious vegans all the time and it pisses me off. I once had a vegan tell me that O’s asthma (hereditary) and F’s reflux (unfortunate) were my fault for not being vegan when I was pregnant with them and subsequently not raising them vegan. So, no, I don’t do that. And this post is not actually about me anyway; this post is about my children.
I decided when I was pregnant with O that I would not raise him vegetarian. I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t hope one day my kids will choose to be veggies because, to be honest, I really hope that they will. But that’s the point; they should get to choose. And it won’t mean anything to them if they don’t make that choice for themselves. They’re both too young to really understand the fact that their daddy and I don’t eat meat because they’re too young to understand what meat is anyway, but I’m pretty sure they’ll ask at some point and then I’ll have to decide what I’m going to tell them. I’ll be honest with you; I am not looking forward to that day.
O has always been pretty cautious around animals. It’s not that he dislikes them; he’s just not sure whether or not they’re safe. F, on the other hand, is already a great lover of all animals and always wants to make new furry friends. I know that neither of these attitudes is any indication of whether or not they’ll grow up to be vegetarians, but I am trying to raise them to be compassionate towards the creatures with whom we share our planet. I won’t think any less of them if they choose to be omnivorous, and I will never impose my diet on them. I don’t cook a whole lot of meat for them at home because I actually can’t even walk down the meat aisle in Sainsbury’s without gagging. But they eat meat when they’re with their grandparents and when we go out and I can cope with it if it’s already cooked. That makes me sound like a really shite mother, doesn’t it?
I think the thing about the whole veggie issue is this: It’s not up to me to tell my children who to be. My job is to help them discover who they are and who they want to be. Yes, I will offer them guidance when it comes to a whole lot of things. But, when it all comes down to it, their diet just isn’t that important to me. Well, no, I don’t mean that quite the way it came out. Of course I care what my kids eat, but I grew up eating meat and I’m not psychologically scarred or physically damaged by it. So I guess when they ask me, I’ll tell them the truth. I’ll tell them where their food comes from, that their meat is from animals. And they’ll probably do what I did for a lot of my life and push that to the back of their minds while they tuck into a hamburger or a bacon sandwich. That’s fine. I’d be pretty fucking hypocritical if I said otherwise, wouldn’t I?