Vegetarian family values

While I was pregnant I often got questions about being vegetarian. Almost every one focused solely on my protein intake. What I always considered questioning in return was, how is your protein intake? Better yet, do you know how much vitamin C you got today? How are your folate levels?

Where we live a vegetarian diet is still somewhat rare. Some of the questions are based in ignorance (I find many people believe that meat is necessary and aren’t even aware protein is also found in vegetables and other foods), but I can also tell that others are being intentionally judgemental. Some see vegetarianism as a personal attack on their values and bring it up attempting to start an argument. (If I was allergic instead would it still be an issue?)

I can’t say for certain, but I’d hazard a guess that pregnant/nursing/parent veggies are often as or more aware of their nutritional status than omnis. While I was pregnant I tracked my diet pretty closely, sometimes every single thing I ate all day (including the stray piece of candy) was recorded to make sure that I was hitting at least 100% of the RDA for most things and more for key things such as protein. I regularly hit 80+ grams every single day and could tell you (or look up) the numbers for any number of the other nutritional requirements. I had done extensive reading on the topic, as well as received professional advice. I’d venture this is a lot more work than the average person puts into their diet.

Now that I’m nursing the babe (a whole separate point of interest that draws nearly as many comments!), I’m starting to get questions about whether or not I’ll feed him meat or let him have it if he shows interest. I like to think that not eating meat is a value for our family, in the same way that relgion or abstention from alcohol may be a value for theirs. We’ll teach him our position, and then once he’s out on his own he can make a determination about whether he wants to continue. Some have postured that it’s not fair of us to deprive him of the chance to eat meat. I’d like to counter with the same argument considered in the context of smoking. If your child shows an interest in smoking, would it be unfair for you to consider depriving him of this act?