I was vegetarian when I met my wife to be. I don’t credit animal rights. Perhaps some amount of a desire to do good by the planet; but really I blame my body’s intolerance of all the junk I ate in college – steak and cheese subs and sausage pizza.
I gave up pork and beef first, then, as I acquired a more open-minded food attitude and more vegetarian-minded friends, I gave up dairy and finally chicken.
Yes chicken was the hardest. But after that I flirted with being vegan for a couple years, and temporarily even tried macrobiotics (I liked that it “allowed me” to eat fish).
Before and during my wife’s pregnancy, we both ate a vegan whole foods diet. Organic, seasonal and varied to give our child the best head start possible. (My wife is physically disabled and we wanted to stack the deck as much in our favor as possible for a healthy child). My wife’s pregnancy went did very well, and she ate well too – supping on vegetables, whole grains and soy products (tofu, miso and so on) She actually ate more than I did on some nights despite being nearly half my weight (as an aside, she miraculously didn’t pack on the pounds as many pregnant women have, and had little difficulty slimming back down).
Post-pregnancy was another story (food-wise) altogether. Because my wife breast fed, we found that the foods we loved and which had become our staples seemed to cause upset in our perfectly healthy baby. No more (usually chocolate) soymilk, broccoli, potatoes and so many other things. Chicken came back into the cooking repetoire – sporadically at first, then more often until I’d basically forgotten most of my tastiest and healthiest meals.
Eventually breast milk begat cow’s milk (organic of course, but unfortunately still designed for a calf with 4 stomachs, not humans), and our “pregnancy diet foods” were problems no more… but the chicken didn’t go away, neither did fish. And to this day we’re still vegetarian by some definition most of the time, and as organic as possible – prices be dammed!
The upshot of all this is a daughter who loves tomatoes, avacados, mushrooms, shrimp and spinach, in addition to the more normal regime of pears, bananas, applesauce and strawberries. A good, well-rounded eater (well, she was until she turned 3 and became so contrary. She still eats a diverse menu – but never a big meal)
Interestingly enough, this week she turned a new leaf.
For the last several months regular milk has more often than not come with a small squirt of chocolate – not enough for grown-ups taste, but she thinks it’s there and is happy. Last weekend it was her (too frequently) demanded drink of preference. We countered that she could have some AFTER she drank some apple juice or water. She begrudgingly chose the juice, guzzled it down (as best one can through a sippy cup) and came up for air gasping for chocolate milk… We held our ground – there wouldn’t have been enough milk for the next day if we gave in. But later on we gave her a cup of soymilk with, of course, a squirt of chocolate. She’s had it in cereal before, and maybe out of desperation once or twice in the past, so we hoped for the best.
She took a sip, and asked, Is this soy milk?
Yes, isn’t it yummy?
Yes. I like soymilk.
This cupful was similarly guzzled down, and seconds were demanded – but not acquiesed to.
To our surprise she spent the next morning (and subsequent week) requesting soymilk. So I picked up another half gallon on the way home – my vegan-minded self smiling the whole time. – Lucky us, it’s cheaper too.
So are we going to get back on the veggie bandwagon? Vegetarian, Vegan, perhaps some odd definition of flexitarian? Time will tell… at least we’re raising a very open minded little girl.