Raising a Sharp Toothed Carnivore

by Lisa Donovan

When my son turned three and after a year of studying anything dinosaur related, he very exuberantly said to me that since he did indeed have sharp teeth that he wasn’t meant to be a vegetarian. The conversation actually went something like this:

Joseph: “Mommy, see my two sharp pointy teeth?”

Me: “Yes, honey, I do”

Joseph: “We can tell carnivore dinosaurs apart from vegetarian ones because they have sharp teeth, right?”

Me: “Yup”

Joseph: “Well, see, if you don’t let me eat meat I will go extinct”

I have been a vegetarian for fourteen years. At first it was adamantly for ethical reasons, now it is a combination of health and the former. I always had this daydream that I would have a lovely vegetarian kitchen with a husband and children who loved my cooking and felt like they were better off for it. Not so. Joseph comes up with repeated scientific facts as to why it is not only lame, but utterly detrimental to his existence for him to not have a slab of meat on a daily basis. My husband — well, he is polite and tolerant and respects my choice in our home. Occasionally, though, he and Joseph will go for a “walk” and come home looking as if they have just been to their first nudie show together, smelling of cheeseburgers. It should be said, at this point, that I have always (when out of the house) let him decide whether or not he wants meat for a meal. I stand my ground when it comes to fast food (thanks to my mom he has developed a penchant for McDonald’s — it is something he knows, by now, that I will not partake in). However, when we go out to the occasional restaurant, despite my alluring descriptions of the mac n’ cheese and steamed broccoli, he always winds up with the grilled chicken or hot dog.

My thwarted attempts aside, I wanted to mention some positive resources for vegetarian mothers. There are some really important books you should read if you are a vegetarian with kids (whether or not they subscribe to your eating philosophy). Vegetarian Baby by Sharon Yntema was my food bible with both of my children. And Super Baby Foods by Ruth Yaron is another with very pro-vegetarian tips and cooking methods. It is important to educate yourself about how to keep a nutritional balance in their diet, vegetarian or not, just as you would for yourself. For me, it was also important to realize that I can live by example but I cannot impose my ideals too too much or else it will be all for naught. Despite his resistance, I feel confidant that one day, even if he isn’t a pacifist animal loving vegetarian like me, that he will at least have the reverence and respect for those that are.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 15th, 2006 at 10:28 am and is filed under Nutrition, Parent Education, Healthy Living. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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