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Being Vegetarian on Earth Day

April 22, 2011

After the head of my daughter’s daycare, also a vegetarian, heard that I returned to being a strict vegetarian with the birth of my daughter, she suggested I read Eating Animals by Jonathon Safran Foer. After the birth of the author’s son, he decided to venture into the query of humans eating animals.

This morning, Serafina and I walked to the library to read some books. She grabbed ALL of the picture books, wanting to take them home and gnaw on them a bit. Finally, doing the good old bait and switch, I convinced her she could carry my copy of Eating Animals. She hugged it at the register, and all I could think about were the people around me staring at the book in her arms, title loud and clear. They probably thought I have a screw loose. During lunch, the rain started to trickle down, and I knew that once naptime hit, I would enjoy curling up and reading a good book. I am only through the introduction, but I wanted to share this passage that reminded me of the purpose of this blog, which I consider a conversation with my daughter.

Feeding my child is not like feeding myself: it matters more. It matters because food matters (his physical health matters, the pleasure of eating matters), and because the stories that are served with the food matter. These stories bind our family together, and bind our family to others. Stories about food are stories about us– our history and our values.– Jonathon Safran Foer

I think it isn’t just the stories, although I enjoy that aspect of cooking and blogging. For me it is the responsibility. Learning to eat well and enjoy food helps a child develop and thrive. Teaching her to be compassionate to people and animals will help her to mature and develop empathy. People ask me about giving Serafina a choice, and I try to explain that I am helping my child develop a consistent moral ethos, much like many parents do on a variety of topics. For me, respecting the value of life on earth is an important value. Babies and children do much of their early learning from animals (books, toys, characters, pets), and I am not sure about the lesson learned from turning around and eating them, especially when we can live quiet healthfully without. I guess that is the key, eating meat is an unnecessary act. Eating less of it helps us, animals, and the environment. A win-win. If I can teach her how to be humane and how to have the least amount of negative impact on the life around her, then I will feel like I did a good job.

Foer goes on to explain that the book is not a straightforward book for vegetarianism (for that, see the Face on Your Plate), but he did think it was curious that everyone assumed his project must be because of the name. He felt the response was a telling problem of the food industry, that people assume any investigation into meat production must result in vegetarian advocacy. That would be my thought to leave you on Earth Day. Our industrial food industry needs an overhaul, especially the meat industry.  If you haven’t read anything about the meat industry’s environmental impact, check it out (I have some sources listed in the education tab). And like Foer says, if you feel resistant to learn more, ask yourself: Why?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. nicole in paris permalink
    April 23, 2011 2:22 am

    Hi, I have been reading your blog for a few weeks – really zen-joying it (yeah, just made that up right now). I have been a veg since I was 16 – that is 22 years.

    This post was particularly was of particularly good timing because we are going to visit the inlaws this weekend. My daughter has never eaten meat (but she does eat cheese with delight and eggs with complete gusto). That was sort-of my unspoken compromise with my husband. BUT, his parents are actually immigrants (to France) from a country where meat is cherished. They are “old-school” so to speak, as in from an almost third world country and think I am totally weird to begin with – but what I do is my business, but what happens to their granddaughter …. well, them are fightin’ words.

    I love that they want what they think is best for her. Especially given the fact that they are Arab, and well, boys really are favored. But so far, out of 5 children, she is the ONLY grandchild SOOOOO, they really dote on her. She is only 15 months old and last time we visited (I am ashamed to say) she was less than a year old and was (and is) still breastfeeding. She was enjoying solids too, so they did ask why she wasn’t eating meat. His mom particularly (chubby, sweet woman that she is) was real concerned and demanded to know if her son, baby’s papa agreed to all this?!?!?!?

    So, now she is older and looks like a real person. She even thinks she can talk as she wags her finger in your face and babbles how it is with some intense seriousness. I am not looking forward to the discussion with his parents. So, just to make sure, I asked hubby about it last night to make sure we avoided a marital spat in front of said family this weekend. Well, luckily I did because he said, well shouldn’t she at least get the choice?

    I said, well sure if you want her to choose what she eats, let’s give her the entire range of food options including cookies, candy, bacon and coca-cola. I mean, if she is old enough to make her own decisions…

    Okay, so, at least for this weekend we are a united front. I really, really need him to read some of the books you recommend. I mean, he doesn’t eat that much meat, especially since I don’t allow it in the house and as a stay-at-home mama, he never cooks dinner anyway. But even though vegetarianism has come along way in the USA, believe me, it is not a well understood path in so much of the world.

    • April 24, 2011 8:53 pm

      I was really worried about both of our families, but we actually just spoke to them. We explained why, and they pretty much respect it. There are occasional jokes about sneaking her steak, but I think they know where the line is. Supporting your beliefs with research is always helpful, so definitely check out the books I posted in the education section. I am almost done with Eating Animals, and I would recommend it. That and the Vegetarian Baby one, which helps support the ideas that babies don’t need meat.
      Thanks for checking the blog out!

  2. Kristy permalink
    April 24, 2011 6:42 am

    Hi, I just found your blog through a link yesterday. I’m not vegetarian, but I try to eat meat-free meals regularly. I found it interesting that you get asked if you’ll give your child a choice. Have you thought about comparing your morals and values to religion? For example, does a small child usually get asked if they wish to attend church on a Sunday? Perhaps after all of your teachings, if your daughter decides to try meat when she’s grown up, then you have simply done your best. Just like many children stop attending church and having a relationship with Christ. I can’t see why you would be expected to change your beliefs!
    I’m looking forward to investigating your blog further!
    Kristy

    • April 24, 2011 8:56 pm

      Thanks! I have used the religion example, but hesitated to put it on the blog, I don’t know why. You are right though, it is a really good example of us growing up with beliefs given to us by parents, and for some even food customs, and then choosing later. I don’t mind if she chooses to eat meat in the end, but I will know I did my best to raise her conscious and aware of our food system.

      Thanks for your support!

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