I blame the fish.
We were sitting down to dinner one night and we were eating a delicious meal of fish fingers, green bean salad and rice when my son Philip, 12, looked over at our new fresh water fish tank. I’d cleverly decided to put it at one end of the dining table and he said, “I feel bad.”
I thought he was feeling sick but he explained that he felt bad about eating dead fish in front of the live fish, like fish fingers contain any real fish whatsoever.
But before I could even begin to explain that to him he’d put his fish finger down, and ate only green beans and rice before looking accusingly at me as I dipped my remaining fish finger in tomato sauce and then asked if I could have his, only if he wasn’t planning on eating them.
Lunchbox politics are a thing. Post continues…
So when, a few weeks later, he told me he wanted to be vegetarian, I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was. After all, I had spent 10 years prior to his birth a happy vegetarian with six of those 10 years being a “patchy vegan” due to my occasional consumption of cheese.
I just couldn’t help myself.
He’d told my husband first who immediately tried to talk him out of it but I just said ‘OK’. How can I not respect him for being so sensitive to the feelings of goldfish at such a young age?
But, I told him, there would be some ground rules:
1. Vegetarian, but not vegan.
We started talking about why he wanted to be vegetarian which pretty much boiled down to the suffering of animals. I explained the difference between being vegetarian and being vegan and he asked if it hurts when cows are milked. I lied and said no, because I don’t think I can cope with a vegan child, vegetarian is going to be hard enough.
2.Wear your EpiPen pack everywhere.
I mentioned that I was vegetarian/vegan for a decade and the reason I stopped was because Philip, 12, was born with severe food allergies to egg and nuts. That means he has to be extra careful being vegetarian because a lot of vegetarian food options contain egg and nuts. That means reading ingredients always and wearing his EpiPen pack without fail.