Confession: I hide meat in my one-year-old’s food so she will eat it.
My daughter L-O-V-E-S vegetables. She insists on having two servings of broccolini. Peas are shoved into her mouth by the fistful. Cucumber and tomato salad deserves a little dance in the high chair.
Okay, I know what you are thinking. Boo hoo, go cry somewhere else, my kid H-A-T-E-S vegetables and equates the colour green to poison.
I’m sure I will one day be trying to bribe my daughter to finish her vegetables, but at the moment, I’m panicking about her not eating meat.
I’ve been vegan for five years. For five years, I have been constantly bombarded with questions about what I will feed my future children. Since giving birth, people who I meet and discover that I’m vegan are on edge until I tell them that I serve my daughter shredded beef three times a week.
For a while there, she was a lover of the pureed bolognese I made and then a lover of the shredded beef when the rule “No food shall be eaten off a spoon” was enacted.
The past two months though, she has become less of a fan. She’s never been thrilled by chicken. The shredded beef is spat out (or dropped over the side of the highchair into my dog’s waiting open mouth). I’ve tried meatballs (eww, gross Mum), I’ve tried sausages (no, that’s just weird Mum). Yesterday, I tried cooking some chicken in a little bit of apple juice… three mouthfuls were swallowed before she decided that apple tasting chicken isn’t quite right. I’ve pretended to feed her a piece of pasta, but snuck in some meat instead… 50 per cent of the time it works.
So, what's the big deal, you ask.
It seems like every second week there is some vegan mum who is being arrested or scolded for not adequately feeding their child. They are blamed for developmental delays in their babies for excluding animal products from their diet. In some cases, it's as extreme as their children being removed from their care.
Now, I know I'm different to these mums. I know I'm offering her meat and animal products (by the way, diary is on the L-O-V-E list), but I'm still worried that she isn't getting enough nutrients if she's not eating meat.
Which brings me to feeling extremely conflicted, even just saying that last sentence makes me cringe. I've based my lifestyle and diet on the basis that I don't need animal products to be healthy.
For as long as I can remember, meat was on my H-A-T-E food list. I would gobble up the salad and the rice and ask for more, only being told to finish my lamb chops before I could have more salad. I would beg my mum to cook me broccoli (I know, what a weirdo I was/am). I hated having to finish the meat portion of my meal, but did it so I could have more of what I wanted, and now I feel I'm doing the same thing to my daughter.
So dear experienced mums I need your advice. How do I convince my one-year-old that at the moment she needs to eat beef, chicken, etc (when she's older she can eat like mummy if she wants)? Do you have any toddler proof recipes up your sleeves? Seriously, I need to know how to hide meat in finger food (or someone to tell me that this happens to all kids and soon she will be hating green food).