I Was A Teenage Vegetarian
Dear Lord, please do not let my kids go through a vegetarian stage. Amen.
I have absolutely nothing against vegetarians. I am of the "eat and let eat" school of thought. But I cannot stomach the idea of a child, particularly a teenager, who decides that she wants to be a vegetarian. Or more specifically, who becomes a vegetarian and then tells everyone why. (By the way, my daughter has been known to approach a grazing cow and take a bite out of her side, so I doubt that she is in immediate danger of vegetarianism, but still, as a mother, I worry.) The reason I fear this is that I was a teenage vegetarian, and wow, was I ever a pain in the ass.
I decided that I wanted to be a vegetarian after a Gandhi-like experience of finding a vein in my chicken. "WHAT IS THAT?" I said after I was revived from a fainting spell.
"Iz vein," my mother said. "You don't haf to eat, but you haf to zit down and stop making faze. Faze can freeze." (Ok, I know I'm making my mother's accent sound more German and Russian, but you try doing the Russian accent. On your own blog.)
Right then and there, I became a convert.
"I think I'll have a cucumber instead." I announced.
My already-hip-to-vegetarianism friends preyed on me.
"Meat is murder!" "Why should an animal have to die so that we can eat?" "Haven't you ever noticed how we have to disguise the meat we eat with ketchup and mustard to mask that we are eating flesh?!"
So, in order to blend in with the semi-cool vegetarian kids, I became a zealot.
"Nice of you to serve me a dead animal," I'd comment at dinner-time.
"Why do others have to die so that you can have bacon and eggs?" I'd initiate a breakfast-time discussion.
"Because it's delicious," my father chewed.
"You know what's delicious? This beet. And the knowledge that no one had to die for it. But that's me, I guess I'm just not comfortable with murder," I would reposition myself on the cross, while simultaneously adjusting my halo.
This went on forever. I rebuffed my parents' attempts of reasoning with me--everything from the nutritional value of protein ("you know what else is loaded with protein? SPERM! And yet, I don't see you suggesting that I become the school's fellatio queen!") to their sneaking suspicion that I was more of a dessertarian than a vegetarian ("I need to get my calcium somehow and no innocent life had to be cut short for this ice cream!")
My parents put up with it all with good humor and indulged me. They didn't even harp on the fact that I was basically freebasing pate and that it could possibly be at odds with my vegetarianist zen.
It lasted for years. Until I went to college. Until I went to a Pro-Choice march in DC. Where carrying a hanger, I became so ravenous that I grabbed the first hot dog I saw and then ate another one of its brothers.
And although during my vegetarian rant my parents never once said, "just wait until you have a lunatic child of your own!", they totally should have. Because believe me, I certainly have a few drafts of that speech written for my kids.