Help! My Daughter’s a Vegan

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.  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.  For myself, 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.  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.

3 Responses to “Help! My Daughter’s a Vegan”

  1. tanya petrovna on 15 Oct 2009 at 10:55 am

    Great read Donna! So bring the kids to California for a visit and come eat at Native Foods, a restaurant where carnivores and vegans hold hands and chow down with gusto :-) At least until we get to New York.

  2. Linda on 24 Oct 2009 at 8:27 pm

    I feel your pain. i know EXACTLY how you feel. My daughter came home for her birthday and didnt say much when I told her we were having roast beef. Then I noticed she didnt eat any of it – just the side dishes I had. The next day I came out and asked her if she is not eating meat. She said no, she doesnt eat it. I asked why and she said “do you really want to know?” and I said NO. She had done a project in school about meat processing last year and was pretty squrimy about it. I also watched closely and realized she is indeed eating healthy – and when she came the next weekend I decided we would try various non-meat meals – veg chili, spinach and mushroom lasagna, and pasta primivera. Admittedly, I know it is healthy…. and good for us. But when she went back to college – we had a nice meat lasagna! haha I think it is mostly the inconvenience I feel – and the mourning of the fact that when she comes home in the summer, she wont be eating “with” us all the time. bit then, I guess I am making it all about me. I liked the person who wrote “dont worry, she will some day meet a nice man and lose her veganity”!! haha

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