Secretly I want to convert my family to veganism or at least vegetarianism. Don't tell Husband. I especially want the children to be vegetarians. But secretly. I know not to push the girls for fear of a major backfire and rebellion in the form of frivolous pork eating, bacon binging, hunting. That's my nightmare at least, so I know to handle Maya and Mina's food selection with non-leather kid gloves.
I make their breakfast every morning and their lunches most every day. I make their dinners about 35% of the time while Husband tackles the other nights. Though I don't push the veggie life on them, I do usually prepare veggie meals. I am also pretty adamant about organic produce and whole grain stuff. They don't protest this at all. They also have not noticed that I only buy almond milk now which tastes no differently to them on cereal. HA - another point for my clandestine coup!
Maya announced to me yesterday that she wants to be a vegetarian. My heart nearly exploded. She fairly successfully gave up red meat about 6 months ago with slips now and again like when she didn't realize that pepperoni was red meat. Whoops. But I don't sweat her when that happens. I tell her, "Yo, look how much red meat you HAVEN'T eaten." With yesterday's announcement I asked, "Why, baby?" I want these decisions to be theirs solely. I want them to have a process to their choices. She said, "Well, it's healthier. And I don't know if I feel good about eating animals anymore." I said, without pumping one fist, "Those are great reasons."
It didn't hurt that I brought home a propagandous children's book a couple days ago called Benji Bean Sprout Doesn't Eat Meat. I feel only slightly guilty about placing this nonchalantly on the dining table. The book is about a kid who gets persecuted at school for being a vegan -- the other kids throw food at this kid, peas and carrots no less. It’s ugly. Benji's like, Dad, I can't take it. I wanna eat a hamburger. What kid wants to be the chump at school? Benji's dad is like, Whoa buddy before you eat the death patty (my words, but totally implied in the book), let me show you something. He takes Benji to an animal sanctuary and explains why the animals live there and not at a factory farm being tortured. He guilts Benji out of the burger via live, sad cow eyes. And the book worked like a charm on Maya too. MMwwwaaaa. The book also made her ask me, Do they really cage up a chicken all day long? Calves get ripped from their mothers? And so on. Her own compassion was ignited and grew the more she learned. She also asked me great questions like how old was I when I stopped eating meat (red meat at 13) and when did I become a vegetarian which really was only 2 years in high school. I told Maya that I didn't really learn about the idea of balance in a diet until fairly recently and back in high school I didn't know that an all french fry diet, though vegetarian, was maybe not the best idea. I told Maya that back then I dreamt about chicken until I couldn't take it any more.
"Do you want me to pack string cheese in your lunch still?" I said. She said, "Hmm, no thanks." "No more chicken noodle soup?" "I guess not," she said unremorsefully. "Eggs?" I said. "I don't think I like the taste of them to be honest." And my eyes were rolling to the back of my head as she was describing a VEGAN lifestyle, not just vegetarian.
Her journey officially began today. I warned her about haters. I warned her about our own urge to judge others and feel uppity. I told her to learn to squash that early and accept everyone's personal journey.
After Maya had made her announcement, I looked over at Mina. She was shaking her head like, Shoot, don't look at me. Mina is a complicated eater, among other things. I think she'd be compelled to eat a kitten with melted cheese on it. Her favorite food is beans, which y'know, thank God, but a close second is pork and candy. She'd wrestle Husband for a pork rib. I've seen it. But she'll show random signs of brilliant choices. She'll gobble steamed broccoli. She'll happily eat sprouted grain bread and vegan cookies and flax seed waffles. One day she'll love celery and the next complain that it sucks. She'll beg me for lentil soup two days in a row then won't touch it the week after. She'll say, "Mami, can I have pasta?" And after it's prepared, she'll say, "Hmm, never mind." KINDA INFURIATING.
I will slyly have to continue planting seeds with Mina, be the example and then I’ll probably watch her still choose pernil over a salad. Pernil is roast pork shoulder, Puerto Rican style. Mama Luz, Husband's mother, cooks that poor, darling pig all day until apparently its meat melts on the tongue. I've seen adults fist fight over the last bits. Feh, as long as she has a side of organic broccoli and brown rice, I guess . . . what am I gonna do?
When my mother became a vegan, when I was eight, my diet did not change in the least. I showed interest in her new venture or at least intrigue, but her veganism seemed to be a guarded secret. I believed that she became a vegan only to lose weight and as far as I know, that WAS the main reason because she permanently lost sixty-five pounds. I really didn’t even understand what a vegan was. I ate bologna for lunch or sloppy joes at school. For dinner I ate two hot dogs wrapped in slices of bread and a glass of milk almost every single night. The only thing that temporarily put a halt to this menu was because I developed nitrate poisoning. The poisoning came in the form of food-induced migraines. I would see spots, lose my peripheral vision and then puke my guts out. At school, when I felt light headed, I would hold my hand in front of my face and pray that I could see the hand whole. When the spots came, I would just leave school. A few times, as I waited for the city bus to take me home, I’d puked right on the sidewalk. After I was diagnosed, my mother bought me nitrate-free hot dogs from Trader Joe’s.
And now that I am a mother, it astounds me to think I would only want to save myself with my fresh diet. Why would I keep my revelations only to myself? What’s the point of a healthful, long life if the girls and Husband are not with me, healthy and aging well? So really, not so secretly do I hope they follow my lead. And until they make the decision themselves, I’ll leave a trail of sprouted bread crumbs and organic fruits and veggies on my path.
I love my husband because he’s kind of a dick. But he’s soft with me and his lip quivered at our wedding. I love my daughters. They’re brilliant and funny, and I’m here to kick down mountains that get in their way. I’m a vegan, and all is right in my world because of it. I can still beat the neighborhood in HORSE because I have a bad-ass set shot. Justice is served well through fair food, and scarcity would be a myth if we shared more, damn. Yo soy una mezcla which leaves me mixed up sometimes. My commute bike’s name is Loops and she’s my favorite kind of car. I wish I had written Chronicle of a Death Foretold. I’ve endured 54 hours of tattoo work. But above all, I fiercely believe in the underdog.
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!" - Kerouac (As told to me by Marigoldie)