Hi there. I'm a mum of five, and have a bit of a situation regarding food and parenting through separation.
Here's the story: He (my ex) is a vegetarian (and has been since his early 20's), and I am an omnivore (raised omni, mostly vegetarian until I was 12 when I transitioned to a completely vegetarian diet). We have four daughters, twins who are 10, 8, and 5 years of age. Our daughters had been raised on a mainly yogic diet, no eggs, meat, fish, poultry, garlic or onions, up until we separated (I left the USA when our youngest child was 6 months-old, wanting to move back to my home country, and also to leave the very damaging and controlling marriage, which is another story entirely).
I started eating fish occasionally again in 2010, and eggs (only free range) the same year. In December 2011, I became pregnant with my partner's child, and he requested that I start eating meat. I didn't have to, and it did gross me out a fair bit, but since then I've been completely omnivore. It's not like we eat meat every day. It's much more fun to have a broad palate.
About 10 months ago, I started to offer meat to my daughters. My eldest didn't want to try it, and is still happily vegetarian, which is fine. My younger three daughters were more experimental, and now I have two children who love meat.
We try to only eat pasture-raised, free range meat and eggs (which isn't hard to source as the demand is so much greater), and if we can buy organic we do. We don't eat at McDonalds. We rarely eat out at all (with my four girls, my partner's daughter, and our son, it ends up being an extremely costly affair).
My ex-husband has threatened many times to the girls that he will leave them and never come back. He yells at them about eating meat (including at the vegetarian child), and scares them. He constantly emails me about how I should not be eating meat, that I am being disrespectful to him by offering the girls meat in the first place, and tells me that he'll leave permanently and not have anything to do with his daughters. He says that I need to uphold his beliefs, and that if any of the girls asks to eat meat, that I have to say "No". He doesn't see how this is both controlling and also wrong for him to expect. I am not asking him to change his diet, nor to feed the children meat in his home.
Now, I wouldn't mind if he buggered off completely (he spends 5-months of the year in total travelling out of the country), and my twin daughters would much rather he wasn't around. But my younger two girls love their dad, and ultimately he is their father. I've told him that I would never force the children to eat meat, but I will always offer both a vegetarian and an omnivore option in my home for them. I quite often make my own vegetarian "meat", because we're soy-free in our house (partly to do with my 8-year-old having many food sensitivities) and it's just so much nicer making things from scratch. I was vegetarian for over 15 years, so although my ex now thinks that I am completely ignorant regarding the vegetarian diet, I can assure that I am not.
It's all rather insane. The girls resent being threatened, and it is damaging to their well being. I know that I can't bend my own stance to please my ex-husband (although he has actually stated that I should be trying to please him and keeping him happy), but I don't like the ordeal he makes over the whole thing.
Any ideas? Thoughts?