So I’ve recently become a chegan (a cheater vegan who eats organic, free-range eggs). Like most things I’ve had to tweak my commitment just left of left to feel authentic…but that’s another post. Basically I don’t want to support anything that doesn’t support the health and welfare of animals or my community (including me and my family). And this vegan-egg thing does that for me.
The other day I was in a Mommy-and-me class with Matteo, and one of the mothers was commending me for not forcing Matteo to eat the way I do. I was flattered but also a little perplexed. A part of myself has been on pause for over a week wondering why I let Matteo eat humanely-raised meat and dairy. Intuitively I feel I should allow him this, but I wasn’t fully aware why.
It’s taken years of experimentation, education, trial and error, backsliding and LIVING to get to a point where I feel comfortable and confident about going against the (non-organic) grain, if you will. Buying a $6 square of organic strawberries at the Farmers Market does not mean I am pretentious or wealthy; it does mean I care about what I put into my body and the environmental effects of everything it takes to grow a strawberry. It means I geek out over the sweetest, freshest strawberry. And it means I am frugal in a lot of other areas of my life.
I also share a household with a healthy-sceptic of a carnivore. My dear husband has become much more conscious of what he eats since we’ve been together, but he does enjoy his carnitas and his freedom to think for himself. I do the shopping, so I have a lot of control over what comes into the house. But I also purchase humanely-raised, organic chicken for the boys to eat. I respect my husband’s choices and I see how and what we eat as such an integral part of who we are, that I couldn’t impose my views on my son just yet. (Plus, I’m all about progress and not perfection. My husband was consistently eating deep-fried chicken stuffed with meat things when we first met!)
I can control much of what my son eats, so it’s not like the kid’s throwing down processed meat shakes. But if the bliss on my husband’s hamburger-biting face, encourages my son to “ask for” a bite (read: grab the hamburger out of Abe’s hands and put his face into it), I am not going to stop him from that experience. All I can do is set an example of what I think is right and let him choose and stumble and right himself when he can. Maybe it would be different if my husband and I presented more of a united culinary front. But I don’t think so. I still think at some point Matteo would have to choose for himself, experiment for himself, question for himself. I could raise the kid vegan, but what’s he going to do during his first late-night IN-N-OUT party with friends?
The food thing is so intwined with who we are and our relationships with each other. Part of the reason I can commit to my way of eating this time around is because I have seen my son’s joyful interaction with animals for almost three years. In some ways I have experienced animals through his eyes, and now I must treat them differently. So he’s changed me. I wonder how interacting with me and my friends who care about the environment, community, and food chain like I do will shape him? I’m excited to find out.