A Self-indulgent Postcolonial/Feminist/Poetry-in-Progress/Culture/Parent Blog
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
How a family of four turned veg(etari)an
I have always loved food. Even more than the eating of it, I love the process of making something that nourishes the ones I love. I love the way it looks, feels, tastes. I love the enthusiastic “click” sounds my baby makes as she nurses, I love Big A’s post-prandial cough, li’l A’s too infrequent scraping of an empty plate, I love hearing my sister say she lost ten pounds she wanted to lose, I love the pediatrician slotting my babies above the 90th percentile on the growth chart. I love making big, healthy colorful presentations of food, I like taking pictures of it; my collection of cook books almost rivals my collection of South Asian fiction (and I’m paid to work on only one of those).
Somewhere around the time I acquired a household to run, meals became about (an animal) protein volumized by sides of veggies, grains, and beans. This wasn’t the way I ate growing up, although, I’d grown up in a meat-eating household and even at my most anorexic, I’d still happily eat a little bowl of my mother’s chicken kurma (hold the rice) once a week. It was safe to say I thought of meat as necessary to a well balanced meal and that I enjoyed it. As recently as last year, when Chai embarked upon a month-long vegan challenge—I found it frighteningly austere and extreme. I thought I could never do without sushi, without a cup of morning milk, without a nibble of cheese now and then.
I thought that even if I made the shift, I would crave animal products. I did make the shift about four months ago. Can’t say I’ve craved any kind of meat.
I don’t intend to be a vegan vigilante, so skip this paragraph if you don’t want to give up animal derived products. All I had to do was read about factory farmed animals. That’s it. Even as I read that hens cluck to their unhatched chicks to teach them different calls, I knew my scrambled eggs were, in a manner of speaking, toast.
I’ve continued to cook meat for the family since then—it seemed like the caring, Buddhist thing to do. But Big A has been unhappy about the unfairness of the situation and yesterday we decided that he and the babies would join me. I’m glad; lately I’ve had doubts about the health benefits of meat/milk/eggs and have felt that I’m putting unhealthy, unhappy products into my children’s vulnerable bodies. So for now we’re keeping a bag of microwaveable chicken nuggets for Li’l A because that’s the only food he really pines for and otherwise eating more veggies, whole grains, and beans. The babies and Big A will still use eggs and a minimum of cow’s milk. I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer—our farm share has the exciting job of fully filling our bellies.