Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman (pardon my French). A friend of mine had recommended it, and I thought it was going to be about eating well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And while all of that was true, the book was actually educating readers on the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.
I didn't personally know any vegans... and to be honest, I don't even think I knew any vegetarians at the time. I thought vegans were quacks, and I couldn't figure out why any human in his right mind would voluntarily give up cheese. I thought soy milk was gross, and I had developed an uneducated/unjustified aversion to Boca burgers. My closed-mindedness led me to believe that all vegans could eat were twigs and seeds.
And boy, was I ever mistaken...
I'm always up for a challenge. I said to myself, "Self, why don't you try veganism for a week?"
Self tried a vegan diet for a week. Self lost weight. Self just felt better in general.
I said to myself, "Self, why don't you try it for a month?"
Self continued the vegan diet for a month. Self lost more weight. Self felt even better.
Do you see where this is going? Here I am, 3 years later...
As it turns out, vegans can absolutely eat more than twigs and seeds. And most vegan food is absolutely amazing. Cooking for a vegan is not all that scary, I promise. Especially if the vegan in question doesn't have a picky palate (for the record, I'm not at all picky).
Mid-Michigan, where I used to live, is not exactly vegetarian-friendly (but Bay City, for example, is working on it - Heather's Restaurant is a veggie option that just opened up in early 2011). But I moved to Kalamazoo shortly after becoming vegan. And there are omg-so-many vegetarian/vegan options at almost any restaurant in SW Michigan... even at little dive bars (Bud's Bar, for example, in the teeny-tiny village of Schoolcraft).
When I cook, I cook mostly vegan (sometimes vegetarian). While I am a firm believer in my own diet, I don't go on a huge veggie rant when I see someone gnawing on a hunk of carcass. But I will probably never offer to prepare meat for you. At my baby shower, for example, the menu was strictly vegetarian, upon my request. I do well with picking meat out of my food or choosing vegetarian options at others' events, but I decided that I was NOT going to have to pick through the food at my own baby shower. And you know what? No one went hungry. No one complained. People actually thought the food was insanely tasty. Go figure.
So the million-dollar question: am I going to raise Sol as a veg-head?
You bet your sweet potato I am.
And I was insanely proud of the fact that her fabulous little belly was purely vegetarian, untouched by carcass of any kind. Then I hired a babysitter.
I have been given an obscene amount of jarred baby food, 99.99% of which is vegetarian. I had 2 jars of turkey & gravy (umm... gag), which I had set off to the side with the intent to give to my sister for her daughter. Yes, they were in my cupboard, but I knew not to feed them to my daughter. My family and friends knew as well. The babysitter apparently did not.
After she went home, I was cleaning things up and washing dishes. And I saw the empty jar of turkey gravy. Due to lack of responsibility on MY part, the babysitter accidentally fed my daughter meat.
I cried. Yes, I was that lady. That crazy veggie lady. But seriously, I was upset. I guess I know now to either A) get rid of the carnivorous baby food in my cupboard, B) disclose our vegetarian diet to all the babysitters, or C) both A and B.
Live and learn.
So yes, my little Sol-child will be a raging veggie. As long as I'm cooking/preparing food for her, she will eat what I eat. And I don't feel badly about a lifetime of asking others to prepare vegetarian/vegan food for her.
And just to help her understand, I bought her the book Herb the Vegetarian Dragon by Jules Bass. It's a children's book about the one vegetarian dragon (Herb) who lives in the kingdom of Nogard. While all the other dragons breathe red flames and eat the townspeople, Herb breathes blue flames and eats veggies from his own garden. Um, adorable much? The book obviously promotes veganism, but it also teaches a lesson about standing up for what you believe in, even if it's different from what everyone around you believes... which is an incredibly important principle to instill in children. Little MiniMon will be one tough vegan. She will absolutely know what we believe, why we believe it, and she'll have answers for anyone who asks. My kid's no dummy.