Monday, 25 October 2010

Meat Free Monday?

One of my most annoying habits must be the way I always manage to answer a question with another question. Even over simple things. If my husband asks me what I want for dinner, nine times out of ten I'll reply with "What do you fancy?" I do this with so many things, for the simple reason that I am totally incapable of making a decision. I hate it! As soon as I decide something I start worrying about whether it was the right decision to make!

One decision I have always made for myself however is that I don't want to eat meat. I have been vegetarian since I was 18. My mum refused to let me be vegetarian before this point. She always thought it was 'just another phase' I was going through, and to be fair, there were quite a few of those, but as soon as I left home and went to uni, the meat went. I have never even been tempted to eat meat since then.

I was stood cooking this morning, making up a batch of bolognese for the children from finest beef mince, blood on my hands, I was feeling quite sick from it actually, but it got me thinking. A number of people have asked me whether I will bring up my children vegetarian but I don't.

The way I've always seen it, vegetarianism is a choice, one that I've made. My husband has chosen not to be a vegetarian. I have a friend who is a vegetarian and she has brought up her three children in the same way. Her husband doesn't eat meat in the house because she doesn't feel comfortable having meat in the house. Although I don't enjoy preparing meat, I do because I feel it's important that the children don't have it excluded from their diets just because I have made a choice not to eat it, and by preparing meals which do have meat in them means that we can all eat as a family regularly. My husband gets serious withdrawal symptoms if he doesn't get meat! But this has led me to wondering if I am in this case being a bit of a hypocrite? I'm still buying meat and supporting the industry after all.

My daughter is three now and is very aware that my 'chicken' looks different to hers. She really enjoys eating Quorn and I do give it to her, but I give her meat as well, despite the fact she isn't so keen on it. My son on the other hand is like his daddy and loves his meat, he can't get enough! I know that if either of my children decide that they want to become vegetarian when they are older and fully understand what this means, I will support them and allow them to do this as long as they get the nutrients through other foods in their diet. Until then, I will continue to do what I do, I'd rather be a hypocrite than have my children vitamin deficient, but how do other people deal with this issue? I'm sure I'm not the only one!


  1. We are a mixed household too - I don't eat meat but my husband does - and so far my daughter (just 4) hasn't either.

    It is a tough one. For me, it was instinctive when I was weaning her at 6 months. It just felt weird to go from exclusive breastfeeds to giving her dead animal to eat! When I was pg, my OH was adamant that she would eat meat, but has actually got more cross with other people suggesting that she should be than I do. He says he can see she is healthy by her shiny hair, rosy cheeks and boundless energy.

    C has just started to get the idea that we are both vegetarian and has asked me why she doesn't eat 'shicken' and 'bacon'. I have told her that she can try them if she wants to, but have explained where the food comes from. I think she only has a rudimentary understanding of what it means.

    My friend's four kids were all given a veggie diet, but when her 2nd was about 2, he grabbed loads of meat off a plate at a BBQ, and literally couldn't get enough, he eats meat now, but only when they're out as the 'house' is still veggie. He is the only one of the four to show an interest in it though.

    The OH is probably less of a meat lover than yours, though he does love it, he is happy not to really eat meat at home - although that is mostly because I do most of the cooking and I don't want to cook two different meals. I think he almost always has meat for his lunch - he usually has a hot meal then, and I guess that is enough?

    I sound really militant, don't I? I'm not really, I never lecture people on being veggie and unless they ask my reasons, I tend to be vague about it all.

    In terms of vitamin deficiencies, of course, I would also rather feed meat than see my daughter's health suffer, but so far it's been fine. I weaned her onto food from Rose Elliot's book, and I carried on breastfeeding for donkey's years. Although she has a limited diet, when I write down what she eats, she does have most food groups - she likes lentils which is good for iron.

    Erm... have I wibbled on enough???? Sorry if this doesn't make a lot of sense!

  2. Thanks that's a really helpful response! I got very anaemic when I was pregnant with my son, and was on the verge of being hospitalised as they were worried he wasn't getting enough either. It's the only time I've ever been tempted to just eat meat to make myself better. It does worry me though that he needs regular big doses of iron so it never occurred to me to not give him the meat, but your view is exactly why I feel a bit of a hypocrite making and preparing the food for the children. At the same time, I just don't want to make the choice for them as they're bound to be offered meat outside of the house. I guess unless everyone in the house does the same, there's no obvious 'perfect' solution! Thanks again. x