1. Name and Age Katrina, 24
2. Who do you live with? Husband John, 25 and son Jack, 3.5
3. How would you describe your diet? I am a total vegetarian. I don’t eat fish. I love cheese though—that’s one food I could never give up. We eat a lot of hummus and peanut butter and jelly on sprouted wheat. And string cheese and Stonyfield yogurt. Jack is one of the world’s pickiest eaters. John and I enjoy lots of ethnic food, tofu, the spicier the better in our home!
4. What is your main reason for eating veg? My main reason for eating vegetarian is ethical. I became a vegetarian my freshmen year of college here in St. Cloud. We have the Gold’n Plump headquarters here in Central MN. The moment of truth came when I was stopped at a stoplight, cruising in my ‘98 Malibu on Division street and I looked up to see about a million birds crammed in to cages, their beaks sticking out, with not even enough room to turn a 360. It hit me pretty hard. I mean, I know I’d seen chicken trucks before, but for some reason it spoke to me on that day. That was the last day I ate chicken. Or any meat for that matter. I mean, to me, all creatures deserve to be treated with dignity and love. Factory farming goes against everything I believe.
My second reason for eating veg is that I struggled all my life with poor digestion and stomachaches. I was even diagnosed with IBS at the age of 15. Since I quit eating meat, I have fully recovered from the so-called “IBS” which I think was really just my body’s way of telling me, “hey, I don’t like this diet.”
5. Do your friends and family affect what you eat? My sister has an affect on my diet, since she’s been a vegetarian longer than me. Other than that, nobody influences what I eat except me.
6. What are the key challenges of raising a vegetarian child? Probably the raised eyebrows, the judgements, the questions….and of course trying to find a childcare provider and/or preschool that understands our family values and honors them. We’ve been blessed to have find a daycare provider and preschool teacher who both respect our food choices and are willing to learn more about vegetarianism.
We have a running joke in our house that if anyone fed Jack meat, I would end their life. It is funny, but is also sort of true. I mean, I roll with the punches for the most part these days, but Jack’s diet is non-negotiable.
I know we’ll encounter more challenges as he grows up, goes to school, stays at friends’ houses, etc. But we’ll take each one as it comes and figure it out. At some point, I won’t be able to tightly control what he eats and I’ll have to allow him to make his own choices.
7. What advice would you give someone interested in raising their child vegetarian? My greatest piece of advice for someone wanting to raise their little calf as a vegetarian, is to stand your ground. Don’t let anyone tell you you are making the wrong decision. My kid is in the 100th percentile for height and the 90th for weight. He is happy, energetic and radiates health. John and I sometimes joke that we should feed some meat to Jack just to slow him down. Also, find others in your community who have similar values, or at the very least, respect your choices.
8. Where do you look for ongoing inspiration for a vegetarian diet? I love the book, “Raising Vegetarian Children.” We also subscribe to Vegetarian Times. Just going to the [farmer's] market or co-op is a great source of inspiration, too. I love to try their soups and put my own spin on them at home. And of course, Pepperoni is Not a Vegetable is a great new online resource.
9. What is one of your favorite veggie meals? We love to make smoothies! Our family’s favorite veggie meal is probably homemade pesto with bowtie pasta (Jack’s favorite). All you need to make it is:
Fresh basil leaves (You can grow your own indoors in the winter)
Extra virgin live oil
A small hand full of pine nuts
Fresh garlic cloves (2)
Sea-salt to taste
Combine ingredients in a blender, add salt and garlic to taste, then add to al dente bow ties. We stir in cherry tomatoes or red peppers sometimes, then a little freshly-grated parmesan cheese. Try it with some Pinot Grigio!
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