Vegetarian or Not? The Big Veg Debate

An issue is looming in the Tealady Household. As Bubs creeps further and further towards 6 months, an elephant in the room is getting larger and larger. The issue, you see, is about Vegetables. About Vegetarians. A Vegetable debate, if you will.

 

vegetarian vs meat-baby-diet

Image courtesy of Toa55 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Vegetarian Debate

You see, I am meat eater. I am not completely carnivorous, and mainly like chicken and steak, but I like it, and eat it. My partner on the other hand, is a vegetarian. He’s not just a vegetarian though; he was brought up vegetarian so he had never eaten meat (until a rather unfortunate mishap in a burger bar about 2 years ago). His Mum, Aunty, Grandad, Dad – they are all vegetarian.

When I was pregnant, it was easy to quell the questions, the ‘ will you give the baby meat’ questions, as I would say I didn’t know and we’d work it out nearer the time. But now it is nearer the time. 7 weeks nearer the time until she starts to wean. I know she can’t eat meat straight away anyway, and so I probably have a few months to get this sorted.

The thing is, my partner’s family assume she will be vegetarian. My family assumes she will eat meat. It is true that most meals we eat at home are Veggie, but this is for ease, and also, due to cost – I can’t justify buying meat just for myself – even a small pack of chicken can cost a bit. I do eat meat at home, however, and there are times when we will eat different meals, or I will add meat to the rest of the veg/tomatoes/whatever we are eating.

I want Bubs to try everything, including meat. I don’t see why I should stop her from trying things. I don’t particularly like most fish, but I will still give it to her to try. I think a part of me also wants her to be a bit like me, or enjoy the things I used to enjoy as a child such as a roast dinner, or a hot dog or a barbecue (believe me, there is nothing more depressing than a vegetarian barbecue).

I find it funny that people make assumptions, and the other day a family member commented ‘oh you won’t eat that horrible stuff’ and I winced a bit. My Mum has threatened to feed her meat when we are not there. I don’t want people putting ideas into her head about anything, let her make up her own mind. I am also a little concerned if she doesn’t eat meat, what protein will she eat. Her Dad, being a vegetarian, but a terrible one, is not overly keen on quinoa, or beans, lentils etc. He will eat them but not often. I have told him if he wants her to eat vegetarian, he will have to aswell – not live on Domino’s pizza, and garlic bread.

I think we are going to have to compromise about this. I think I will let her try meat, but make sure I buy really good quality, organic stuff. I will cook it, and give it to her, but maybe not everyday. I think of she goes to my family, she can eat meat there, and at my partner’s family, maybe she can eat vegetarian, and if she ever asks for it, I can give her some of my meat when I’m there. Or maybe I should just see if she’s interested in it and then let her try it then.

Has anyone else been in this position? What did you decide? How did you do it and was it a success? I’ve got 6 weeks until she’s 6 months old, and I am trying to get prepared, so any advice you have, please let me know in the comments!

I will of course let you know how I get on and what we eventually decide. And how everyone takes it.

20 thoughts on “Vegetarian or Not? The Big Veg Debate

  1. Fiona

    Hey, I just wanted to share this NHS link with you about vegetarian diets:
    http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Vegetarianhealth/Pages/Vegetarianmealguide.aspx
    There’s no need to worry about protein, that’s just an old wives tale. Veg is full of protein, so as long as the baby eats a variety of veg, her protein intake will be fine.
    If your husband is vegetarian for ethical reasons, it might upset him if the baby is fed meat? You could also raise her vegetarian and let her make up her own mind when she’s a bit older, that way if she decides to be vegetarian, she’ll know she’s never eaten meat?

    Reply
    1. Emily Tealady Post author

      Thank you for the link and your comment! My OH was brought up vegetarian so that’s all he has known, he has a sort of fear of meat, although he isn’t particualrly against meat for ethical reasons (he eats things like Haribo with gelatin in for example). I think as long as we have that variety we will be OK but my OH does not even like that many vegetables! I just hope he doesn’t influence her with his fussiness and I have already told him not to talk about what he likes and doesn’t like in front of her, when she is older! I think we will have to compromise somewhere, but all this information is really useful, thanks.

      Reply
  2. Beth @plasticrosaries

    Hard!
    I’ve always wanted to ensure my children get to experience everything and make up their own choices when they’re old enough. A vegetarian diet is more than sufficient to sustain them (if they ate that way which they don’t) but then isn’t it her choice to make.
    It is hard. If you were both vegetarian I’d probably say raise her that way until she asks to try meat but as you’ll be eating it then it makes sense that she does too and then if she chooses to follow in her father and family’s footsteps that’ll be her choice when she’s grown?
    It’s haaard!

    Reply
    1. Emily Tealady Post author

      Yup really hard! I’m caught in the middle a bit! I think we will end up generally eating veggie but when we are alone or out and about, or with my parents, I will let her try it if she wants to. That way we may all be happy!

      Reply
  3. Kelly Finn

    Hello, I never had this issue but I can imagine it must be quite hard at times. I hate they fact that other people are making assumptions for you, at the end of the day it’s down to you and your husband. No one else. I personally would let baby try everything, neither of us here eat fish, but Tia does. It’s good for her, and when she’s old enough to make her own decisions about what she wants to eat and not then we will worry about it. Xx

    Reply
    1. Emily Tealady Post author

      Really good advice. I am also going to try and get her to eat foods I dont like, as well as meat, I think its important she gets to try things! Thanks for commenting x

      Reply
  4. Sonya Cisco

    I am lucky because we are both vegetarian, so it was a no brainer that my youngest will be veggie too. HOWEVER- It is not up to me to make his mind up for him, and if he east sausages on sticks at a childrens party, or a ham sandwich at his Nans, I am not going to be cross. And when he is bigger he can make his own choices. He is my third, and have used this approach with all of them. Eldest is now 16, and a meat eater-loves her chicken! Middler is a vociferous vegetarian- far stricter and more vocal than I have ever been! So I think discuss with your OH how he feels about it, and decide between you what your boundaries are for now, then when baby gets bigger, she gets to have her say!

    Reply
    1. Emily Tealady Post author

      Really good advice. I think this is something really we need to allow her to decide, but to give as much choice and opportunity too. Thanks for commenting x

      Reply
  5. Amanda

    We are vegetarians who cheat :) we like meat but don’t eat it every day or eveb every week as a) I only like to buy the best quality, free range, local meat which is pricier and so not an everyday item on our budgey and b) I struggle to digest meat (especially red meat). But, we wanted our little one to have the chance to make the choice himself as he grows up… And we didn’t want him to miss out on experiencing all different foods and textures. This goes beyond meat vs vegetarian though… We have given our son everything we eat since he was old enough to digest it. So he has had meat, veggies, fish and all the strong tastes we like such as olives, anchiovies, pickles, blue cheese, curry etc and he loves it! He won’t eat what he doesn’t like but will generally try most things (he even ate cockles the other day!!) I think you need to discuss it in depth with your husband and decide what you both feel comfortable with…

    Reply
    1. Emily Tealady Post author

      Yes I agree, I think trying everything and if she’s interested to let her try. My OH is reluctant purely because he doesn’t like meat and has never had it, although he isn’t about the ethical issues (he eats haribo and things like that!). I think as we normally eat veggie at home, especially when we are altogether, we will do this, but I will allow her to eat meat (like you say, the good quality organic free range stuff) if we are out and about or at my Parents, for example. Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  6. Orli D

    I was a bit in your shoes, as I am a vegetarian and my husband isn’t. I chose to let the kids eat meat, mainly because I feel it’s a choice you have to make on your own, and because I didn’t want them to feel different than other kids. If when they grow up the will choose to be vegetarians it will make me happy, but I don’t think they will, and I am fine with it. Choose your battles. vegetarian vs. meat isn’t that important for us…

    Reply
    1. Emily Tealady Post author

      Thank you for your comment! Yes I agree, it is not a big thing in the scheme of things. I think we will see how we go, and let her try everything she wants to x

      Reply
  7. Alice @ mums makelists

    Tricky one – I’m a veggie (or at least a pescatarian!) but my daughter is the biggest carnivore. Meat is her absolute fave … at 2 she was devouring steaks, chops, enormous quantities of roast beef, fatty bacon, the lot!

    She hasn’t though completely made the connection between meat and cute animals yet though and really doesn’t like animals eating each other so it may be she becomes a veggie from choice later. Although this would require her to actually start eating some veg!!!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing at the Friday Baby Shower – Alice x

    Reply
  8. allison @ goodmorningclementine

    I’m a vegetarian and my husband rarely eats meat and I’m definitely struggling with this decision. My daughter is 6.5 months old now and started solids about a month ago. Our doctor suggested adding meat at around 9 months but I’m just not sure. The meat selection isn’t the best here where we’re living so I think I’m going to try and make a vegetarian diet work for her. I’m not against giving her eggs & cheese though! The eggs here are surprisingly amazing.=!

    Reply
    1. Emily Tealady Post author

      It’s so difficult isn’t it? I don’t eat meat very much, but do enjoy it when I do. I suspect day to day we will all eat veggie as we do now, and then if she shows an interest in meat at any point, when I am eating it (and I know where it’s come from etc!) I will let her try it. Thank you for commenting! x

      Reply
  9. Jonathan

    I’m probably going to be a bit biased as, I was brought up vegetarian, have always been one and am married to one as well. When it comes to trying all sorts of different foods, I think it’s important to remember that there is a so much variety among food that is vegetarian. There are so many different types of international food where there are some vegetarian dishes. For example, I love curries, pasta, Mexican dishes, crepes, couscous and things like falafel. I guess what I’m getting at is that there are a wide variety of flavours and spices that are used in vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian cookery.

    Reply
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