January 4, 2013

And So It Begins

It happened.  I didn't really expect it to happen for a few more years.  At least until she was in her early teens.  That's when it happened to me.  But Jordan has always been an early bloomer.

A month ago we went in to the doctor's for Jordan's well-child check up.  All was normal - normal for Jordan seeing as how she is 10 years old and 5' 2".  Then Dr. Bisguard asked Jordan what kinds of foods she liked.  Last year Jordan's response was "corn and hot dogs."  This year Jordan says, "Well, I'm a vegetarian."  Dr. Bisguard replied, "Really?" but her gaze shifted to me so clearly I was suppose to explain how this came about.

The only thing I could think of is that we butcher animals here on the farm.  Late last summer we butchered four turkeys and Jordan unfortunately saw some of the innards as I brought a baggie of giblets into the house for cleaning and packing.  After that experience Jordan decided not to eat any of the turkey on Thanksgiving.  I figured this episode has something to do with the vegetarian statement and proceeded to explain to the doctor.  Jordan nodded her head in agreement.

Dr. Bisguard asked if this meant all meat.  Jordan said no, that she still eats hot dogs (of course), sausage, anything that doesn't remind her of the grosser aspects of eating an animal - namely the blood and guts.

I get it.  I can't gut a fish and turn around and eat the meat.  I need a few days separation between the yucky part and the eating part.  But Jordan hasn't mastered the art of pushing icky thoughts from your brain.  And I suppose it doesn't help when Jeremy and talk about the former animal we are eating ... "So is this Sammy or Porky?"

Dr. Bisguard was quick to point out that meat has important nutrients that a growing body needs.  And if Jordan wasn't going to eat meat then she'd need to get those nutrients somewhere else.  She'd need iron, which comes from spinach (Jordan's not a huge fan).  And protein  which comes from nuts (good), tofu (not loving that) and beans (hates those).  But as Dr. Bisguard rattled these off, Jordan just nodded away like "No problem, I'll eat those things."

In the car I tried to explain, again, why we grow and butcher our own meat.  Why I won't purchase faceless, grown in barn, fed only corn, meat so she doesn't get grossed out thinking about us butchering in.  Jordan said she understood, but I was skeptical.  Until a few weeks later when Jordan was at her Grandma's house.  Grandma was serving steaks from the store.  Jordan refused to eat the steaks on the grounds that she didn't know how the cows were treated, if they were abused.  At least some of my moral stances are making a mark on her ;-).

The good news is that because we don't raise chicken on the farm - at least not friers, we do raise layers - she will eat that meat.  Luckily there is a produce market five minutes from home that sell chicken from a local farm with really good practices (e.g., true free ranging).  I can also get ground beef products past her.  I made Swedish Meatballs last weekend and she has requested those again this weekend.

I suspect this is just the beginning of Jordan walking in and making statements like "I'm a vegetarian now."  I remember distinctly my decision at 15 years old, "I'm not shaving my legs anymore."  This of course was in response to the oppressive male-dominated culture that expected women to be hairless (lol).  And my choice as a teenager to be a vegetarian - due to the horrible living conditions and torture of the animals we ate (I still ate any meat my dad hunted down himself).  As long as Jordan's proclamations aren't too crazy, we will support and adapt.  Maybe we'll both learn to like tofu ... I doubt it.


Rachael Taylor said...

I can totally relate! I was a vegan in college, for four years, although mainly for, what I thought was health reasons. Turns out I'm allergic to the proteins found in cow's milk (which is why we now have dairy goats)! Phew am I happy we figured that out :) I didn't do veganism right and was super unhealthy...my tongue started peeling and my hair started falling out. YIKES!

I'm with you though, unless I know how it was raised I'm incredibly skeptical and will usually just pass. Now that we raise our own food I find that, apart from Sushi, eating out just isn't as good.

Kudos to you for supporting Jordan! And, no judgment, I still go in and out of the no shaving phase...but it's more out of laziness than anything else :)

Mindy said...

Thanks Rachael :-) Amazing how we can make any "diet" unhealthy. And I totally agree about eating out - often it's just not worth the money we pay.

Outdoor Doula said...

As a former vegetarian/short-term vegan and a forever animal lover, I now eat more on the "paleo" side of things. I've developed quite a taste for homegrown vegetables and herbs, free range eggs, grass fed beef and butter. Eating lots of veg and animal proteins has excited me about food all over again, unlike vegetarianism and veganism which didn't make me feel healthy.

It takes time to learn to listen to your body and eat what you need- kudos to you and your family for providing your children with such healthy, natural animal products. I also think that it's wonderful that while you support her decisions you still take the time to communicate with her about -why- your values are what they are.

Big hug from a future hobby farmer across the country!

Mindy said...

Thanks Outdoor Doula :-) We are trying hard to be supportive and educational with Jordan. Sometimes that's a hard combination.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, our son became "vegan" at about 13-14 and tried to avoid meat into college. He was a total failure and didn't understand the meaning. It was because all the girls in school were going through the "we can't kill animals, it is cruel" phase and the boys followed along to be in with the cute girls. They try so hard to be different from their parents they do all kinds of stuff. His favorite meal now is a good steak at 19.

Anonymous said...

I went through that phase too.
I'm in year 13 of it and my husband is in year 10. I don't think one can really be a vegetarian until one stops recognizing meat as food. In my mind, it's not food, therefore not eating it is not a problem. It's like not wanting to eat a candle. I probably could eat a candle, but it's not "food" in my mind, so I don't. I definitely felt better once I cut out meat.