My husband and I were both raised in meat and potatoes families and we live in the BBQ capital of the United States, yet when faced with raising a child, we opted to raise him as a vegetarian. I believe our early rationale for this was that meat wasn’t healthy and we wanted our child to be as healthy as possible. We planned to phase meat out of our daily routine and raise our child according to the Super Baby Food plan. We were sure that before long we would be the poster family for “Vegetarian Baby” magazine – or something. Satchel began eating solids at 4 months of age, although he continued supplementing his diet with record amounts of breastmilk. His first foods included bananas, avocadoes, sweet potatoes, and rice cereal. As Satchel grew and expanded his tastes, we prided ourselves on never buying jarred baby food, even the organic kind. Our daycare provider and other curious onlookers were often baffled by the contents of Satchel’s lunchbox, but baffled in a “Is he really eating tofu?” kind of way that we enjoyed. My mother and other family members seemed to think that by letting Satchel snack on seaweed, we were somehow mistreating him. Or at the very least, depriving him of the joys of “real” food, whatever that is. Once Satchel turned one and became much more mobile and verbal, the road to vegetarianism became a bit bumpy. At a Memorial Day celebration at a friend’s house, we found him camped out on the kitchen floor eating a pork filled eggroll. I have no idea how he got it, but the image of him happily devouring it was endearing. We opted to take a photo rather than take it away. Besides, it was just a little meat. In June at a family reunion in North Dakota, Satchel’s 7 year old cousin asked me why he didn’t eat meat. I found myself at a loss for words. Clearly Warren and I were still eating meat. I couldn’t really think of an intelligent response so I merely said, “Ask Uncle Warren.” On a trip to a wedding in Minneapolis, I sat next to the now 16 month old Satchel in the back of our rental car eating a ham sandwich. Satchel eyed the sandwich greedily and said, “bite?” I figured one bite wouldn’t hurt and that he’d probably think it was gross anyway. He silently ate nearly the whole thing while I kept Warren distracted and blocked his gaze in the rearview mirror. The next day at breakfast, Satchel managed to wrangle two sausage links off of Warren’s plate. We kind of laughed it off since we were at a table with people we didn’t know very well. Our main concern was that Satchel would have a bellyache on the ride back to the city. Fortunately, he was fine. Upon returning home, I innocently asked my husband why were raising Satchel vegetarian if we weren’t doing anything to cut meat out of our diets. I told him it was just a matter of time before Satchel was ordering his own BBQ sandwich, no longer content to eat a Vegan Burger brought from home. Warren’s new, “improved” reason was because meat contained a lot of nasty hormones that our systems were equipped to deal with, but that should be kept out of Satchel’s body at all costs. Okay. But why not just buy organic meat or something? No response. Warren does all of the cooking in our house and most of our meals are worthy of a fine dining menu. Despite usually having meat on the menu, we also have vegetables and unusual treasures from various ethnic markets in town. We live across the street from a natural foods store, and do most of Satchel’s shopping there. However, Satchel is smart. He sees what mommy and daddy are eating and he is curious. In addition to occasional meat products, Satchel is learning to love processed foods. Since mommy is pregnant, her food choices aren’t always those that have been pre-approved by Ruth Yaron (author of the Super Baby Food book). So far, Satchel’s favorite foods include broccoli, asparagus, homemade yogurt, tofu, seaweed, lentil soup…and um, pizza, popcorn, ice cream, and cookies. At parties and in the backs of cars, he can be seen pocketing pigs in a blanket and shoving double cheeseburgers in his mouth. On Thanksgiving he ate so much turkey that the next day he was completely out of commission. We are trying to find a way to raise a healthy boy in a sometimes unhealthy world. We do our best to fill his plate with nutritious foods and introduce to him to a variety of flavours and textures, but we realize that we will not always be able to control every piece of food that enters his mouth. However, we still fight the good fight when we can. His teachers at his new Montessori school know he is a vegetarian and that we prefer that he drink organic milk sent from home or water rather than juice. They also know that sometimes he just doesn’t feel like eating his spinach and that if he sits next to someone eating Cheetoes, they better share.