So here’s the deal at my house. Two out of three daughters are lacto-ovo vegetarians while the rest of use are card-carrying omnivores. Read how we deal with this scenario in my weekly WebMD post.
By David Grotto, RD, LDN aka “The Guyatitian”
When she was eight years old, my oldest daughter Chloe went on a trip to Lisbon, Portugal with my wife Sharon and myself. She traveled well and was our adventurous eater until we stopped at the first restaurant outside of Lisbon. On the menu and in plain English, read “We serve filet of Kid”. Her jaw dropped, and she looked at us in a state of fright. “Do they really serve children here?” After we assured her that it was illegal to offer any part of a child or adult’s body as a menu item, she proceeded to ask, “Then what is kid?” Explaining that kid was just another name for a young goat, she then paused for just a moment and officially informed us that she was now a vegetarian. She decided from then on, eating animals wasn’t the way she was going to roll.
Now enter Madison (my youngest). Her favorite stuffed animal growing up was “Mr. Pig”. She took him everywhere…even to the dinner table. One day, while she was eating one of her favorite breakfast foods, bacon, she asked where bacon came from. My wife and I looked at each other. Fearing she’d be in therapy for the rest of her life if we lied to her, we decided to tell her the truth. She was not happy…not happy at all. She put 2 and 2 together and also swore off of any pork products from that day forward. But she also decided that eating any animal was ‘disgusting’ so joined the ranks of her sister. See where this is going?
First do no harm! Some of you may be asking, “Why didn’t you put your foot down and insist that your daughters continue to eat meat? Besides, isn’t that healthier for them?” Don’t forget…I wear two hats here: not only am I a concerned father, but I’m also a nutritionist. Like other dads, I only want the best for my ‘kids’. As a dietitian, I already knew what the science had to say about kids and a vegetarian diet:
“Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.” American Dietetic Association Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets.
My vegetarian daughters were on solid ground, as far as the science went. But I also knew that my daughters had no clue what a “healthy” vegetarian consisted of. Though I have supported their decision to avoid meat, I have also watched over their
menu-planning, educating them about different vegetarian offerings to assure adequate nutrition. Admittedly, I have also prayed that they make better choices when on their own.