As a vegetarian, I plan to raise my child as a vegetarian too. I stopped eating meat 17 years ago and I had my last Coke then as well.
I’ve started back eating eggs and fish, but the reasons I became vegetarian remain relevant—animals are bred with hormones and other drugs, in cruel and factory conditions and in ways that are a wasteful use of the planet’s resources.
Philosophically, I’m not against eating meat, though I totally get and support people who are. Evolutionarily, I think that humans are omnivores. I just don’t think we should carnivore as we do.
There’s me and then there is Stone. I eat vegetables, no meat. He eats meat, no vegetables. I am from a Muslim family who does not eat pork. He loves pork more than any other meat. We are the Sprats.
You can imagine it’s going to be interesting for Zi. Now that she’s started eating food, the debates have come up. Expectedly, Stone’s all, “Wait till she wants to try some bacon! She’ll never go back!” I’m all like, “Well, it better be organic, free-range and happy or else my child’s not having it.”
This is one of those marital conversations that lasts for years. Luckily, without my prompting, our paediatrician gave him the same retort when he asked her if it’s normal to let kids try meat if they want to (meaning he was warming up to some argument that not letting her eat meat is one of my “issues”) and I was thankful she instinctively crushed that like a discarded cigarette.
Luckily, he’s unlikely to get himself to some overpriced shop in town that sells meat I’d approve of, so I know that this meat thing is only going to revolve around our kitchen without ever actually landing on Zi’s plate. When I started giving Zi a little egg for breakfast for the protein, I myself went into town to buy her expensive eggs from non-hormone and non-antibiotic-filled chickens, but who’s going go into town every Wednesday to get these eggs? Not me (I work), not Stone (these are my “issues” remember?). So now I’m on the hunt for “common fowl” eggs.
Stone wants to know what the point is. Why buy organic-shop eggs, but not everything else I give to Zi? What about the pumpkin, bhaji, apples and the pesticides they’ve been grown with? Lord only knows if she’s eating GMO basmati. He thinks I’m making a hullabaloo without enough commitment or much difference. I, too, wonder how far I’m supposed to go and at what point to stop, and if I’m not going far enough, do my efforts make any difference at all.
This is the personal as political, how the mundane decisions of life highlight society’s systemic arrangements as well as the difference our choices make. This one is linked to animals, agro-capitalism, health, motherhood, the earth, social movements, household negotiations, wages, consumption, the global economy, bee populations, sustainability and, of course, Zi.
I wish old McDonald had an organic farm. She was really called old McMoonan and hailed from Santa Cruz. And, coincidentally, she lived right around the corner from a still-figuring-it-out, working mom like me.