Nov 10, 2008

Be careful what you wish for.

We have raised our kids to make up their own minds about things. I always thought that my greatest success would be to raise kids that turned into free-thinking, independent adults. I still think that but some things take some getting used to.

My daughter became a vegetarian about 6 months ago. It was our fault for sending her off to the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor Michigan is a hotbed for liberal thinking and activism. It’s like Berkley transplanted into the snowbelt. I like to think I am pretty open-minded but her vegetarianism is something I have had to get used to.

On one of her first visits home from school she explained that she had run into some PETA people on campus and that she had read some of their literature. The material really bothered her. She loves animals and was very disturbed by the pictures in the brochures. This was about four years ago and we saw a marked decline in her beef consumption. The only meat she ate with any regularity after that was chicken. Even though I tried to get her to eat some beef she just wouldn’t do it.

She finally made her decision and broke the news to us that she would not eat meat anymore. Her decision was based on the treatment that animals receive in the factory farming system. We were in denial at first. Surely this was some passing fad. In an attempt to hurry her through this phase we threw every argument in the book at her. I admit, in hindsight, that some of them are pretty lame.

* Why do you think we have canine teeth? (Seriously?)
* These animals wouldn’t be roaming the countryside, free and happy if we all stopped eating meat. They are bred so we can eat them.
* You will have such a hard time when you eat with non-vegetarians.
* What will you do when I make Chicken and Dumplings or Chicken Tacos? Will you really be able to turn those down? (I don't want to brag about my cooking but I have to admit I thought this was my strongest argument.)
* You being a vegetarian will not end factory farming. There are still plenty of us that eat meat.

As the family peacekeeper I usually had to stop these raging debates by encouraging everyone to just agree to disagree. But every once in a while I am struck by a new realization of how this will impact her and us.

* You mean you will turn my grandchildren into vegetarians?
* What about your wedding reception? Will you serve meat?

She very calmly explains that she has made this decision because she feels strongly about animal cruelty and that she would be a hypocrite if she raised her children differently or served meat to 200 people at her wedding reception. (200 people? Does she think we are made of money?)

I don’t know why I felt so strongly about this in the beginning. It really shouldn’t make any difference to me at all. But, I have come to respect her decision. I am glad to see that she is a person of conviction and principle. Independent means she gets to make up her own mind about things even if it's contrary to the decisions I make in my life.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. My daughter made the same decision for the same reason at age 12 - two years ago. I agree with your conclusion - in fact I had just posted something similar on her blog on Sunday ( Not only do I respect her but I think it has been an empowering decision for her personally.

  3. These are the choices that people are entitled to make Thinker.
    I eat meat,but I can't find any problem with those that don't.
    You did get me thinking about how a strictly vegetarian diet might impact growing children though.
    It would be interesting to see what,if any,consensus there is among pediatricians on the subject.

  4. g jenner - thanks for reading my blog. I welcome differing opinions but my general rule is max comment length is limited to the size of my blog. ;) But you do have my daughter interested in borrowing my blog for a post of her own in response.

    info - if she's happy I'm happy.

    Sling - I love a juicy medium rare steak as much as the next mid-western gal. But more power to her if that's what she wants to do.

    November 11, 2008 1:31 PM

  5. There is a book written by Catherine Friend "The Compassionate Carnivore" that should be interesting to you and your daughter. Catherine and her partner run a sheep ranch. She also has a blog that is very fun to read,

  6. oops the complete url to the blog is:

  7. lost - I will pick up a copy of the book. We have searched for local family farms to purchase guilt free meat. Very expensive. But might be a compromise for the wedding reception.