Monday, 14 November 2011

The liberal vegetarian

Oh dear, have I really not posted since August? Then like it or not, I shall give you post a day for the rest of this week, and hereby I pledge you my troth. Time dictates they will be written breathlessly, and pithily (dearest G, who will probably be the only one who reads them, tells me I am better when I’m pithy). So I shall give you pith today and juice tomorrow, and hopefully will draw the line before revealing too much flesh and skin.

Let me take you all the way back to August and our dining room table where we are having tea. The Boo has just reached across the table and has swiped all the ham from the Impster’s plate. Now he is greedily shovelling it into his mouth with obvious haste and pleasure. ‘Naughty!’ I exclaim in my angry mummy voice, trying to get the reprimand in quickly before the first blow is struck, ‘That’s not your ham and you shouldn’t steal it.’

‘Don’t worry mummy, he can have it,’ says the Impster, and with a slightly superior tone declares, ‘I’m a vegetarian now, so I don’t eat meat.’

‘What? Why? Since when?’

‘I don’t eat any animals. Just like the twins don’t eat animals. I need a special vegetarian option.’

Of course - the bloody twins at nursery. Well, she’s only four, and if I ignore it, perhaps it will go away. Admittedly though, I had not expected her to enter a vegetarian phase for another ten years.

‘Presumably you eat fish?’ I ask as casually as possible.

‘No fish. Or lamb, or chicken, or duck. Or anything that’s an animal.’

Ah ha! Perhaps this only applies to meat that is clearly named after its origins. ‘What about pork?’ I enquire.

‘Pork is from pigs,’ she says, ‘I don’t eat pigs and I don’t eat lambs or anything else that is roasted on a spit.’

Of course – bloody K. Back from a party at the weekend, elaborately regaling us with tales of Patch’s giant spit roast. Last year a whole pig. This year a whole sheep.

‘No surely not,’ says the mighty carnivore when I later hold him responsible for her ethical stance. ‘She was very interested, especially in the photos.’

Yes, dear reader, this is what she saw. K and Patch rotating the impaled beast like a scene from Lord of the Flies.

These phases pass, but not that quickly with the Impster. I recall only too well her purple phase, in which she would dress in no other colour for a whole 15 months. She has nothing if not resolution.

We go to a friend’s for Sunday roast, and she politely but firmly refuses the chicken, on the grounds of vegetarianism. ‘It’s a vegetarian chicken,’ explains our host. But the Impster is not to be won over.

And so the weeks go by, until one day towards the end of September I have the good fortune to be cooking sausages and make the helpful discovery that processed meat is so far from its animal origins that she hasn’t worked out it is meat at all. I pass this useful tip onto friends and family trying to feed her.

October dawns, and I arrive home from the deli with pastrami. The Impster would like to sample it. ‘What is pastrami?’ she enquires having eaten a plate full.

I take the brutal approach. ‘Meat. From a cow.’

‘Oh. Well I’m a vegetarian except for pastrami.’

She has done extremism. Now she is moving onto her liberal phase. As long as it comes from an expensive deli, it can be accommodated. Chorizo, salami, prosciutto, pastrami. All these can be tolerated. I pass this useful tip onto friends and family who take grateful note.

But the end of the month sees the Boo tipping my venison sausage casserole on his head, and the Impster refusing to eat it on ethical grounds. Perhaps it was the word venison that alerted her to the fact that not all sausages are vegetarian. But she can’t help loving food and her resolve is clearly wavering.

Tonight I cook sausage and mash. I can see her deliberating. ‘They’re only 50% pork,’ I lie. ‘Why don’t you just eat half?’ And she does.


  1. Does it count as ethical parenting if you label the posts so?

  2. Aren't you patient? Clever too with your last statement.

  3. I will have nothing whatsoever to do with any notion of ethical parenting. No indeed. I shall be very careful to maintain my commas.