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Vegetable-arian? at 7? - Problems Increasing.... - Page 2

post #21 of 55
Originally Posted by Laggie

Anyway, I'm sure I'm going to get roasted for this one... no pun intended. But really, I know there are a lot of families that are vegetarian and the ex's family is not:?
Sounds like the ex is not going vegetarian?
post #22 of 55
I'm familiar with the combative ex who calls up to tell you what you 'have' to feed the kids, or to tell you that 'as usual, you never [fill in the blank here]", and with stuff like the kids saying stuff like "you have to drop us off at the coffee shop because you're not allowed on mommy's property", etc etc etc.

All you can do it try to go zen and let it roll off you. If you let it affect how you relate to the child, you're just falling into the trap set by the other parent. In your case, if your husband's ex is not exactly cooperative, she probably knew full well what buttons she would push by telling you what you 'had' to do (and by advising you to be supportive, I'm assuming you took it that she assumed you otherwise wouldn't be), and by telling her daughter that she'd laid down the law with you. It's taken us years and it doesn't always work, but we've got a lot better at letting it roll off us. Of course, if she's really trying to pick a fight, this will irritate her, but c'est la vie!

Try a simple role play:

Ex: Dd is vegetarian now. It's very important to her and I'm fully supportive of her. I expect you to support her too.

You: How wonderful! We've always served lots of fresh vegetables and alternative proteins - it's great to hear that you're going to be moving in that direction too. I'm so glad to hear you're going to be supportive of this.

Or -

Sd: I'm never eating meat again and my mom said that you have to support me and never make me. Na na na na na! [ok, I added that!]

You: I'm so glad your mom is supporting you in this - I know she's been a meat-eater her whole life, so it's really cool that she's going to try something new. We always have lots of vegetables at dinner, but we can try adding some new stuff too. Did you have any ideas?
post #23 of 55
if your dsd's mom remembers those kids that died after eating at jack in the box, then she might be justified in "flipping out." personally i think it's better to just ot ever eat in them, but i can understand her being upset.

my cousin's son has been vegetarian since he was 7. he decided it wasn't ethical to eat animals when he was that age and know what? he's 20-something now (in graduate school) and he still is.

the whole rest of his family eats meat. (big time, my brother used to be a butcher) his mom just always made sure that there was a simple non-meat source of protein for him at all meals. lucky for her he didn't decide to be veagn, that might have been tough. her father, my uncle freaked out about the whole thing and made a big deal about it, but my cousin just kept saying "of course he can be healthy without meat and he's allowed to decide what goes in his mouth." this was a radical concept for my family and so it took a long time before people stopped making a big deal about it.

since it's just a few meals a month, why not just honor your dsd's request and show her that you do care about her decisions even if you don't agree with them.

post #24 of 55
Thread Starter 
Well. On the weekend we had chicken for dinner. SD asked what we were having, and her dad told her we were having chicken, but that she could have beans instead, as a protein. She asked for beans AND chicken, but didn't eat the beans. We did not discuss this during dinner, although her father did talk to her about why she wanted to be a vegetarian the day before. She ate some chicken, ate her veggies, ate maybe one small mouthful of the beans, and that was it. We all did eat beans as well.

We received a phone call from BM about it, of course saying that we were not being supportive. I feel that we offered a vegetarian option and SD chose the meat. What am I supposed to do, tell her not to eat the chicken because she is a vegetarian now?

I find it interesting that very few people answered my question: Would you, as a vegetarian (and I think most of you are) feed your child meat if they asked for it? I am willing to let her pick what she wants to eat at the dinner table, but I am not willing to completely alter our menu to suit her.

Also, in part there is another issue here: SD is in the habit of eating a small amount of food, then repeatedly asking "how much more do I have to eat?" at which point her dad will portion off a certain amount that he wants her to eat before she is "done." I can't stand this and always try to just encourage her to eat until she is full, or to just stay at the table until everyone is finished, but it is a habit and she will repeatedly ask "how much more?" "Is that enough?" etc. So, there has always been this struggle over food, which I often feel is detrimental to us enjoying a family meal together. SD is used to eating dinner in front of the TV at her mom's and it has been a struggle to get her to sit properly in a chair and eat at the table with us, although in the past year she has gotten a lot better.

Oh, and for those who asked: BM is not a vegetarian either, although I think she only eats chicken.
post #25 of 55
I'm a vegetarian and will buy chicken breasts to BBQ for DD when she's in the mood for them and asks. At holiday gatherings we usually get my parents or MIL to cook some meat (pork chops or roast chicken) etc. for the family and DD will usually have a few bites (well not the pork chops unless they have enough of some sauce to cover the taste!).

I was vegan the entire time I was pregnant with DD and her and I vegetarian until she was 5. The someone gave her chicken fingers. She is 8 now and a fairly picky eater (she must have got it from me, I am still picky!) and I am more concerned that she get a varied, nutritious diet than that she is a vegetarian. Her diet is too limited and meat occasionally adds some variety.
post #26 of 55
Originally Posted by Laggie
We received a phone call from BM about it, of course saying that we were not being supportive. I feel that we offered a vegetarian option and SD chose the meat. What am I supposed to do, tell her not to eat the chicken because she is a vegetarian now?
Laggie, she's 7, not 17. She's not always going to be firm in her convictions, and she might not necessarily completely understand the meaning of the term "vegetarian." It's possible she is only grossed out by red meat—which is how *I* am. I eat chicken, turkey, pork, and some fish. No red meat, except the occasional homemade burger.

Maybe YOU should not be talking with the mother; your husband should be doing all the communication with her. Obviously things are strained, so HE should be dealing with her. HE should be the one to tell her, "Well, DD was given chicken and beans, b/c she said she wanted chicken and beans. She only ate the chicken." It's not difficult to explain, really.
post #27 of 55
Sounds like you're doing what you can, and her mom is just a tad over-controlling about what goes on at your house. All you can do is your best, really, and try not to let that sense of being 'supervised' by the mom affect how you interact with your stepdaughter.
post #28 of 55
Just a thought -- I would have flipped out if my child was served a pink burger as well. I went out to dinner with SO's family at a fairly upscale restaurant a few weeks ago, and his eleven-year-old brother was asked HOW HE WANTED HIS BURGER PREPARED. After every E. coli outbreak that has happened -- and is easily avoided by thoroughly cooking every surface of meat, inside and out, it seriously came as a shock to me that any restaurant would even CONSIDER serving less than well-done burgers. This place didn't even have one of those "Undercooked meat can make you sick" disclaimers on their menu. It was seriously appalling. (And SO's pescotarian mom told the waitress medium-well -- ugh.) It only takes ten E. coli organisms to kill a child.

That said, I think she should be able to manage fine on side dishes, if you tend to serve balanced meals (veggie, salad, bread, main course type meals). If she was with you for large periods of time, you'd need to be more accommodating -- but she's not going to melt away for lack of tofu over a weekend.

I don't think you're overreacting. I'm thinking you feel like the way you run your house is being criticized, and that's NEVER a good feeling.
post #29 of 55
I have worked in the restaurant industry for years. Upscale restaurants use a better quality of meat than say JITB or MCD's.

I eat a rare burger from the Outback anyday of the week. And I have worked there.
post #30 of 55
The quality of the meat doesn't have much to do with the sanitation of the cow's intestines.

I wouldn't eat a rare burger if I'd slaughtered the cow myself.
post #31 of 55
I am not currently veggie but was for years. I didn't answer your question because it didn't make a lot of sense to me. A vegetarian doesn't necessarily serve her child meat because it offends her, she finds if spiritually troubling, and maybe immoral. I don't think a meat eater feels the same way about serving vegetarian meals. So I don't think the comparison works. Some vegetarian families have meat eating children and some do not.

I jthink it was ok to offer her food then let her decide and not say a word about it. Maybe she is just finding her own way. When I first because a vegetarian (at about 12) I first cut WAY back on meat but still couldn
t resist an occasional burger or homemade taco. Eventually I cut out red meat, then all meat. It doesn
t have to be sudden. It doesn't mean she feels less about it, just that she's a kid and convictions can be hard to stick to.
post #32 of 55
i have some friends who now have 5 children. they are vegetarian. the loder boys choose to eat meat. they do prepare meat for them a few times a week, usually chicken or burgers. they feel their choice isn't to impose on anyone else, even their children. :

as a former stepmom i think it's important to not make the child feel pulled between the adults. which i'm not sure is happening here. it sounds like she wants to make her mom happy by not eating meat. but she obviously wants to eat meat. (at least at your house) that seems really normal for a 7 year old.

i would make it as much a non-issue as much as possible. give her a choice at your house and don't make it obviously one way or another what you think she *should* be eating, and when mom calls tell her very plainly "she can have a choice what to eat here. whatever she eats, it's fine with us." really she is only there a few dinners per months, so why not take the lead in making things a bit less difficult for her. it's hard to be in the middle of a tug of war with adults that you love. it can make a big difference if one of the adults chooses to take the high road.
post #33 of 55
I forgot to answer the secondary question.

Qualia currently eats a vegetarian diet because that's what we eat. When she's older (i.e., verbal), she can decide for herself, although as with all foods, I reserve the right as her parent to steer her toward healthy choices. If she expresses a mild interest in trying meat, we'll let her have some at a family gathering or restaurant. If she wants to eat meat frequently, we'll be getting free-range, hormone, etc.-free meat and she'll be learning about food safety and cooking.

The idea of her eating meat doesn't thrill me, but I have to honor her freedom to make that choice.
post #34 of 55
Thread Starter 
It's not me that talks to BM, sorry if I gave that impression.

Anyway, we will continue to offer healthy choices, which may or may not include meat depending on what we feel like eating, and SD can pick what she wants to eat. DH tends to make meals that involve only meat and salad, so I will have to add more starches/more veggies to our meals.

I never liked meat as a kid, and went years in my early 20's without eating it as well (although I never called myself a vegetarian). However, recently I discovered meat tastes a lot better when it's not dried out and overcooked the way my mother always made it. And now that I can afford to buy organic/free range meats, I do.

I would be pissed about a rare burger, too, but I would take it back and ask for another one, and express my anger to the staff, not tell my young child that eating it could kill them. I realize it might be true, but all the same I don't think it is appropriate information for a little kid. We've dealt with this before: SD's mom told her for years that she shouldn't eat certain foods "because she might die." (Food allergies leading to anaphylaxis run in my DH's family.) I can understand wanting to be careful, but not telling a kid (age 3-4) that food is going to kill them, especially when the child has never exhibited any sign of an allergic reaction to any foods. Again, I repeat: the child had never (and has not since) had any type of allergic reaction to any food. If she had, of course it would be different, we would take every precaution necessary. I still would not introduce the death factor to a child that small though, I would stick with "make you very very sick." But hey, that's just my opinion. And no, we didn't say anything to BM about it - after all it is her choice to do things the way she thinks is best.

Again, if this vegetarian thing was based on an honest dislike of certain foods, or a concern for animal welfare, I would be much more understanding. Although it wouldn't change what I am putting on my dinner table. However, this is 100% based on fear/trauma from what I understand. We have discussed it with SD and she has not offered any other reason, and she is a very articulate child, and definitely able to express complicated ideas.

Anyway, we will not press the issue, and hopefully this will pass. Maybe I can get her to eat Matter Paneer if I don't put too much curry in it... Thank you all for your suggestions. Sorry if I've been argumentative, it's a bad habit of mine.
post #35 of 55
I am a vegetarian but my dh eats meat. Since I cook it for him and others occasionally, I will do the same for our dc. I won't be introducing them to it unless they ask though.
post #36 of 55
I'm veggie, dh is not. I was going to raise my dc as veggie and let them decide later what they wanted, but as I am introducing foods really slowly because of allergy issues in my family, I decided that "happy" meat from my parent's farm is ok for my ds. The way he chows down on a steakbone, I'm thinking he won't choose to go veggie.

With regard to th op's question about spice, I think spice is an aquired taste. My 11 mo. old ds will taste hot sauce from chicken wings and likes it. I always ate spicy while nursing. The dc of a friend who avoided spices while nursing won't eat spicy at all.
post #37 of 55
I've been a vegetarian since I have memory (definitely by age 4 or 5). It is possible for it to happen young. Prepare a veggie dish that can last a few days and don't make a big deal out of it ("oh, she doesn't eat meat now," stuff like that). There are very easy veggie dishes to prepare. Campbell's soup has a vegan tomato soup concentrate and a vegetable alphabet soup. Have these and cooked rice available at all times-- she can heat it up in the microwave herself. There's no reason everyone has to eat the same thing at a meal.

Also I make "instant" baked beans with one of those tomatos soup concentrate cans, 1 large drained and rinsed can beans, 2 tbs mollasses, 1 tbs mustard. You don't even have to heat it, just mix and stick in the fridge, heat it up over rice when necessary. She can do the heating up.

But to answer your question about age the answer is an emphatic YES. It is also normal to on rare occasion crave meat so don't give her a hard time about it if that happens. I eat meat/ fish about 5 times a year. The primate diet (and we are primate) is only 2% meat. So on rare occasion it might be normal for her to want meat. LEt her switch back and forth.

Some of my worst childhoos memories are of being forced/ bribed/ cajoled to eat meat.
post #38 of 55
She actually told your sd that eating it would KILL her? IMO she is way too young to be told things like that. That's really sad, and after hearing that I'm sure her new diet is out of fear. Poor girl. :
post #39 of 55
Supportive =
**offering an alternative
**being sure she knows what she is being offered.
**letting her choose from there.

**dictating what and how much of what she has to eat

just be sure she knows that chicken is meat. if she knows what she is eating, still wants it and it is Ok with her dad (he is 100% parent also even if his ex wife isn't buying it) that she eats it, then you guys are being perfectly supportive in HER making this choice. It might not be her choice when she is with her mother but you are doing everything possible to make it her choice when she is at your house. You ARE being suportive.

and i agree with the previous poster who said don't let BM get to you. She wants control. That is her isue not yours and not your dsd. She is just trying to make her mom happy and be happy.
post #40 of 55
Sorry: in answer to the question. There's been times in my life when I've been vegetarian or vegan and my kids have not been in a position to make their own opinions. Right now, I eat some meat, my eldest is lacto-ovo, my younger boy is dairy-free and, thank Maude, the baby is on breastmilk and I don't need to worry about cooking five different meals.
As long as they know what they're eating, I'm cool with my children making their own choices. I do think humans were "designed" to eat meat: given our past as hunter-gatherers, I don't think that mother nature intended us to be eating as much of it as we do,or as frequently. We don't buy sweets containing gelatine (it just seems wrong and dishonest to hide animal proteins in sweeties) ever, and we talk a lot about how animals are reared.
I think you did the right thing.
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