learned from being a vegetarian’s parent

Meatless meatballs, marinara sauce, veggies, and garlic bread supper.  
Photo credit by Beabe Thompson

Years ago my youngest child decided he no longer would eat pork.  This was when he was still in middle school and adored pigs, and I could understand his thinking.  How could one eat what they thought was cute and charming?  Then came the day he took the deep plunge and went completely vegetarian, and our family was changed forever.  In some ways the change has been good, especially when his vegan pediatrician saw positive results in C’s checkups.  With high cholesterol and heart problems on both sides of our families, cutting back on fat seems like a win-win situation, right?  In other ways avoiding our favorite meatatarian restaurants just was a hardship, but then there was always date night.

Until immigration changed our part of Texas, you would never have found meatless entrees easy to find.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve walked away from church barbecues, restaurants, and the like because C had no way of getting enough food for a growing boy.  Salads are imperfect when it comes to satisfying a teen boy.  We had to change.  I became an expert of veggie burgers, faux hotdogs, fake chicken and lunch meat.  Thank goodness C’s an ovo-lacto vegetarian and will eat eggs and dairy products.

One of the turning points came when C and his dad won a company cooking contest with a tofu pot pie recipe they collaborated on.  I’m not kidding when I say that it was delicious, and even my meat eating north Louisiana family members would’ve loved it.  Then there was the chili cookoff that we didn’t win with an HEB Sorizo base.  I still say we should have won.  Grown men have been known to sneak the leftovers of the Sorizo chili home not knowing they were totting soy.  I kid you not.

Years of working out compromises of meat eating and vegetarianism have opened our eyes to the joys of a nearby Indian restaurant where the owner recognizes us, and then there’s the Thai place where even I’ll eat tofu curries.  It’s so much easier for school children here to eat vegetarian with Hindu, Muslim, and vegan neighbors sending their children to public schools.  We’re all learning and adopting.

Christians use a quote about children leading adults in faith and understanding, and this is what C has taught us.  In order to make sure he was getting enough protein, I had to adapt and change, which is what parenting’s all about.

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