Young Carnivores and the Vegetarians Who Raise Them

I'm scared. Really scared. Archer has two teeth now which means he is ready to eat meat. Meat scares me. Meat makes me cry. Meat makes me think of beheaded-baby cows, and happy, little, prancing lambs shoved into crates and how when I was ten-years old I cried at the Del Mar Fair when the 4-H kids paraded their prize-winning Pigs, all of who were named, "Bacon" around the ring. Cruel AND redundant. I called my Mom and begged her to buy one for me so we could keep it in the backyard. Not possible so instead, I joined PETA and got down to writing letters protesting Circus Vargas and Gillette.

I stopped eating meat at age eleven, all but fish. A pescatarian for years until my senior year of highschool when I became a hard-core vegan thanks to my then-boyfriend who worked at a coffee-shop and only wore canvas shoes. I went back to refined sugar when we broke up and stopped eating cardboard and dirt. I also went back to eating fish. Lobsters and Sole aren't cuddly-looking and therefore do not make me lose my appetite when I sit down to dinner.

I was the only vegetarian in my household growing up and my Mom kindly cooked me meatless dishes every night for dinner because she respected my stance on animal-eating and also respected the fact I didn't try to convert the family. And even still I could care less if peeps choose to eat meat. I do. I'm not here to spread the dietary gospel. Pulease. It's my prerogative. My husband eats meat. All of my friends all meat. (Atkins, much?) Today I am back to eating chicken and turkey here and there: lunchmeat only as I cannot tear chicken off a bone, I just can't! I do not mind the carnivores who live among me. I DO mind cooking meat. I cannot do it. Fish? I can fillet the shit out of it, BBQ, bake and broil just about every sea creature, but raw meat? I vomit in my mouth when I see it, smell it and flat-out refuse to touch it. It's not that I'm squeamish, it's just that it's dead. Dead and sad-looking.

Which brings me back to my original thought: Archer & his teeth. I do not want to deprive the little man of meat just because I'm not a "meat cook". Just because I haven't had a hamburger in 13 years doesn't mean little man can't indulge once in a while. (So long as it's not fast food. DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON FAST-FOOD MEAT.) Because Gerber Chicken and Rice Dinners are fine for now but not for long, and legume and soy meals every night might not be his cup of tea. He's digging the Avocado and lentil soup for now but what happens when he asks for bacon with his yogurt? What happens when he wants Mommy to fix him steak? Chicken breast? Oh God! I get sick just thinking about it. I really do.



Anonymous | 5:22 PM

It's not a complete solution, but try Trader Joe's Frozen Italian Meatballs. I'm pretty much a Whole Foods girl, but I love Trader Joe's for this kind of thing. They're fully cooked and you can pop one in the toaster oven without your hands ever touching raw meat.

Best of all, the're delicious.

Good Luck!

kittenpie | 5:48 PM

well, I got nothing. I am such a carnivore, I'm in his corner.

But, um, TAG! You're it...

Mom101 | 6:19 PM

My mom was a hard-core sixties/seventies veggie and made us meat. The way she saw it, she also fed us strained prunes and all kinds of stuff she wouldn't eat for herself. I'm guessing you'll find a way to make it work. Moms are capable of crazy stuff when they're doing it for their kids. Or...maybe you'll just hightail it to a vegan commune with him. Either way, my motto is: you do what you gotta do.

Anonymous | 6:25 PM

I guess the fact that my mom was also a hard core veggie in the 60s/70s is the ONLY thing she has in common with Liz's mom (LOL)... Anyway, don't worry about it. Seriously, my daughter still chews and spits out most meat - maybe chicken here and there makes it in - but beef unless it's *gulp* a hot dog usually doesn't stay in for very long. And she has A LOT of toofers.

She will, in fact, eat a lot of the Morningstar stuff - so I give her that instead of nasty regular sausages.

Stacy | 6:52 PM

I've got nothing either since J has never eaten a piece of meat in her three years on this Earth. Maybe Archer can smack some sense into my daughter! hehehe!


oooooh, thanks guys. i love morningstar and the trader joe's meatballs sound great. maybe i'll hand the meat-prep duties to the huz. maybe.

Her Bad Mother | 7:36 PM

I was going to make the frozen-meat suggestion. And suggest that huz take the meat-slinging duties.

I refused all meats as child myself. Maybe you'll get lucky that way? If not - leave it to the huz. And plug your nose and ears while the bacon's cooking.

Karen | 7:39 PM

You two beat me to it: I'm all about division of labor. The huz, it is.

*Tanyetta* | 8:41 PM

Is it written somewhere that Archer HAS TO eat meat? In my opinion (worth about 2 cents of course) if he NEVER has something how will he know what he's missing?

He will ONLY eat what you offer him (well not exactly true) but, you know what I mean.

I don't eat pork and would NEVER think to cook it for my family. The only reason why I don't eat or cook pork is because my parents NEVER served it to us. I don't have a taste for it. It's your call. You're the coolest mom and Archer's in great hands!

Please keep us posted.

p.s. whatever you do...please!!! don't serve him those mini hot dogs in a jar. LOL

Unknown | 9:49 PM

Perfect excuse to make your partnr do all Archers meals for now on! :)

Anonymous | 11:29 PM

I loved those mini hot dogs in the jar! I'd probably still eat them, and they'd probably taste better than half the crap they serve on campus.

And c'mon Bec, did you learn nothing from our house growing up? Dads are masters of the grillz. It's all that hunter-gatherer-weber griller instinct us guys have. Fo shizzle.

Anonymous | 2:42 AM

I remember the first time I went to dinner with you when you came to visit me in Plano. I knew you were a vegetarian, and I spent quite alot of time trying to decide what I was going to order before we went. My intention was to order fish. I probably ended up going with meat... I don't even know, to tell you the truth. BUT Archer won't know the difference between tofu and beef until he's old enough to cook for himself anyway, right?! :) Sure! Think positive!

Christina | 5:40 AM

My daughter is 18 months and still won't eat any meat other than seafood (especially shrimp!) and chicken nuggets. So you may not need to worry about other meats for a long time to come.

As long as they're getting their protein, kids don't really *need* meat, in my opinion. If all my daughter wants is seafood and chicken for her meat, I'm totally OK with it.

Anonymous | 5:43 AM

About a gazillion folks beat me to it, but if your hubby is eating meat, and you're not cooking it, it's coming from some where. Archer needs the same hook up. As for never starting him on it, I'd imagine your hubby may feel differently. But, certainly, once he gets a little older and sees his daddy eating a steak, he's gonna wonder why he's not getting one, too.

I'm not a veggie, but one of my daughters went through a period where she was. I made sure she had plenty of choices, so it wasn't more difficult for her. She still doesn't eat much beef and won't pull chicken off the bone either. I never had a clue why until I read your post. Makes perfect sense! What a dolt I am sometimes!!

Anonymous | 10:17 AM

He doesn't have to eat meat, and you certainly don't have to prepare it for him. I'm sure there are plenty of other things you choose to do or not do for your sanity's sake - why should food-prep be any different?

I'll also jump on the bandwagon and vote for "Daddy the Steakmaker." When I was growing up, my father was the one to cook eggs. Mom just didn't do it; the sight/smell/texture made her ill.

MrsFortune | 10:21 AM

That's what the Trader Joe's pre-made stuff is for! It's not totally disgusting and it's easy as pie to make. And the morningstar stuff? He'll never know the difference.

mo-wo | 10:24 PM

here's one I haven't used much in the 15 years since I gave up my vegetarianism loyalties...

Animals are my friends and I don't eat my friends. But I never met a fish I could stand.

Leave it to the restaurants, friends houses and visits with the grandpeople to get Archer his meat supply... likely quite adequate. one of my best friends is in your boat too, and it works for them.

Anonymous | 11:37 PM

OK, I have a slightly different suggestion since it sounds like this is a preparation/handling of meat problem (which I understand, I have another friend who won't even go near the fridge if there are packages of meat in view). If you're OK with hotdogs most kids love them and they're very easy to cut up small. Chance has just started eating them; he actually didn't care for the baby ones as much so we moved to regular hotdogs. Another thing to consider - one of my friends said that all three of her children LOVED beef jerky! They all started gnawing on it really young. And you can get the stuff that's formed into sticks so it doesn't look so much like meat. The toddlers just gnaw on it like it's a meaty teether.

And just so you know, the baby food meat really doesn't look like meat or even has that strong of a smell. I would think of it as pate. (Plus, we always mixed ours with veggie pate anyway.) I was surprised by how "non-gross" it was.

Anonymous | 8:49 PM

And another take............

Teeth doesn't mean he has to eat meat. It doesn't even mean he's ready for food at all. It just means he has teefers. :)

My take was always this: The chemicals in commercially raised meats are NOT something I want to start loading my children with at an early age.

AND...I think there is a reason why baby food "meat" doesn't anywhere resemble meat...........because babies can't eat meat. A baby could mush up a bean or a mellon and eat it, right? They can't do the same with meat. IMHO, I take that to mean that childrens digestive systems probably aren't meant for meat until they are older, closer to two and getting molars (the teeth used for grinding meat).

My kids never liked meat as babes anyhow..........sometimes they will take an odd hotdog but there are easier ways to get them the protein they need, and I hate making mealtimes a chore anyhow.



Good call!

Cristina | 8:19 AM

Oh, I can so relate to your post! I have been a pescatarian for a little while now (about 2 years) and I really want to raise my son as one, though my husband's a meat eater. My son is 9 months and now has 4 teeth so I've been grappling with this as well.

I second all the moms who suggested Trader Joe's and Morningstar's meatless "meat" products. They're great substitutes. The corn dogs they sell there taste just like the real thing. Good luck, with Archer...