This is probably one of the hardest and heaviest posts I have ever written simply because it is so personal. When I started this blog over two years ago one of my first posts was about raising vegetarian (technically pescatarian) children and why I was so certain I wanted to raise my children with the same food ethics I I held.
Our little family thrived on vegetarian meals with fish once or twice a week to boost iron, Omega-3s and easily digestable proteins. I am sure we could have gone on like that forever not thinking or knowing any differently. But everything changed the day Indi was officially diagnosed with a severe fish allergy. Suddenly my children were vegetarian in the truest sense of the word. ‘OK’, I thought, ‘I can handle this- eggs, hummus, nut spreads, dairy, soy...’ Manageable. But Indi did not improve. Her eczema got worse and she often breaks out in red, itchy, blotches on her cheeks after eating eggs and sesame seeds (she doesn’t have them now). She has been diagnosed with multiple allergies and sensitivities and as a result cannot eat egg, cheese, milk, hummus, sesame and we are still cautious around nuts.
I never intended to and never wanted to raise a vegan child. I just can’t do it. I’m not a huge fan of too much processed soy, I don’t like the idea of my child getting most of their nutrients from a vitamin or supplement
and to be honest I think a strictly vegan diet just cannot give you everything you need to be healthy. TO ADD: Unless very carefully planned, monitored and constantly re-assessed and re-evaluated. Especially when you’re growing and developing at a rapid rate. I respect, honour and look up to those who choose the righteous vegan path. But in the end I do believe even they are choosing ethics over health. TO ADD: It is not an easy feat to plan well-balanced, wholesome and nutritious meals, even for omnivores and even more time, energy and effort is put into a very carefully planed vegan diet.
For the sake of my littlies, after months of mental gymnastics, nutritional research, ethical questions, even abattoir clips and videos... for our family and given the host of allergies and sensitivities we are addressing I have chosen health over my ethics.
Of course we are doing our best to make the most responsible and ethical decisions when it comes to meat consumption. Brad and I have agreed upon a strict set of family rules:
- We eat vegetarian, often vegan meals 6 days a week- about 80% vegan, 10% vegetarian and 10% meat.
- We only eat ‘meat’ once a week on the weekend, consuming any left-overs the following day.
- We will only eat meat (chicken, lamb, beef and game) that is ‘free-range’, ‘pasture-fed’, and ’organic’. I have called the farms of every brand we have bought and talked directly to the farmers themselves to get information about their entire operations from the animals birth to death and everything in between.
- We don’t eat meat at restaurants, people’s houses or at parties unless we are certain of the source and know that is it free-range, pasture-fed and organic.
- We don’t eat pork.
- We try to buy cuts that can have multi-purposes and try to use all of the parts (for example, bones for broths). We do our very best to minimize any waste.
- Before we eat we give thanks. We say a prayer for the animal. We take our time and try to stay mindful when eating.
- We are honest about what we are eating to the children. We don’t cover anything up and we respect whether they choose to eat it or not.
- We all eat the same foods as a family and we all abstain from eating animals we think weren’t raised with as much dignity and integrity as is possible.
I have had to mentally accept the fact that an animal’s death, no matter how ‘organically’ they were raised is not nice, cannot be filled with compassion and will never be peaceful. Raising animals for food will never be as environmentally friendly as being a vegetarian. And it’s a lot harder to embody a value like ‘world peace’ when you’re supporting an industry very far from this ideal. I am trying to forgive myself, and accept that this is the best choice I can make right now based on life’s circumstances. I would like to think that this change in our lives is a part of our, my dharma. Time will only tell if it sticks, who will remain an omnivore, and who might switch back to being vegetarian.
For those that are vegetarian or vegan and/or are raising your families that way, you have my deepest respect. You sacrifice so much more than your palette for the animals. Bless you and may we all be inspired by your example.
I hope that you will all continue to support our family and withhold as much judgement as you can, although I am open to your questions or comments. I hope our news has not disappointed or offended you in any way and hope that if you cannot find peace in this decision you can at least find peace in my honesty.
With love and kindess,