I've jokingly referred to our youngest daughter as a "self-selecting vegetarian." Whenever she's given an option of a meat with vegetables, starches or other foods, she usually eats everything except the meat. My kids have never been hot dog eaters, and Marissa -- for the most part -- doesn't choose meat. Ever.
Lindsey, on the other hand, ate an 8 oz. steak by herself when she was 3 years old. She devoured grilled chicken with gusto and ate spaghetti and meat sauce at least once a week, if not every night if I let her.
I like to say that my kids get a balanced diet between the two of them. Marissa eats all the fruits and vegetables, Lindsey eats all the meat and potatoes.
Lindsey has two friends who are vegetarians; one her entire life, the other more recently because she didn't like the idea of animals being killed so she could eat. Lindsey began getting pickier about the meats she would eat. And then she had an experience eating at someone else's home where they served fried chicken on the bone, and suddenly that connection between living animals and animals that we eat was made clear.
She decided to try to be a vegetarian for a week. So we tried a few plant-based alternatives to get the protein in -- black bean burgers, meatless "chicken" nuggets, and other options.
After a week of testing out a vegetarian diet, she decided she loves it and wants to be a vegetarian for good.
And since our other daughter already is a vegetarian by the choices she makes, that leaves just Wayne and I as the two meat eaters in the house.
I really have no plans to make two meals for dinner every night, one for us and one for our offspring, so we decided that when we're dining at home, we'll be a vegetarian family.
I have a high school friend who never really cared for meat but her parents made her eat it. After all, we grew up in Wisconsin, in the heart of dairy and meat country. What else did you eat if not meat with every meal? The texture made her want to vomit and she had frequent battles over dinner during her childhood. The day she arrived at college she became a vegetarian and never looked back.
Decades later, options for people who have specific diet requirements are readily available, especially in our metropolitan area. Gluten free, dairy free, meat free, just look in the local grocery store (or better yet the local co-op) and there are tons of options. It's a lot easier to be a vegetarian today than it was years ago.
If our kids don't want to eat meat, we'll support it. After all, Americans as a whole eat way too much meat and protein. Did you know that you shouldn't eat a piece of meat larger than your palm at any given meal? Your palm, not your hand. Take a look at your palm and ask yourself how often you are served a piece of meat the size of your hand, or more.
It's been 3 weeks and it's going well so far. We've gotten both Lindsey and Marissa to eat foods they would have never tried before. And Wayne and I are eating healthier than ever.
This doesn't mean we'll be choosing vegetarian when we're not home. Wayne and I are already planning which steakhouse we're going to visit for our next date night.