Are you vegetarian? Are you raising your kids to be vegetarian? Our kids are vegetarian thus far but we are not completely sure, yet, how important it is to us to raise them as strict vegetarians. I am one of those born-and-bred veggies--both of my parents are vegetarian and my sister and I were raised in that tradition. This was in the 80s in Michigan so you can imagine the confusion of those around us.
"Wait. You don't eat any meat?"
"Not even hamburgers?
"Well of course we eat hamburgers, just not any other meat, don't be silly."
Now firmly-established in Berkeley, it is less weird to be vegetarian that it is to be the kid who eats sugar instead of agave nectar. Definite cultural shift. Across the country it seems that more people have warmed to the vegetarian lifestyle. And, while I never really chose to refrain from meat, I have come to embrace the lifestyle and I came upon this article that, at first blush, made me feel proud and responsible to be a vegetarian which, in turn, made me more committed to raising vegetarian kids. According to the article:
If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:
● 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;
● 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;
● 70 million gallons of gas -- enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;
● 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;
● 33 tons of antibiotics.
If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:
● Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France;
● 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;
● 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;
● Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.
My favorite statistic is this: According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads. See how easy it is to make an impact?
Like I said, at first blush, this article had me fluffing my feathers. Look at me, eco-conscious mother of the world. I'm all for anything that paints me to be a world-savvy, responsible person--it's nice to have delusions about ourselves...! But, upon a little more contemplation, these statistics seem--well--for lack of a more scientific term: totally whack. Obviously, even if the entire world went vegetarian tomorrow, we wouldn't just stop feeding cows would we? And what about all the people in the meat industry--what would become of them? And why doesn't the author cite any sources for such sensational statistics?
In some ill-defined, nebulous way, I do think being vegetarian makes sense and if I had to choose right now in a gun-to-the-head moment (oh the irony) I would say, yes, I want to raise my kids to be vegetarian. In part because it seems better for the environment and it appears to have health benefits, but in part, also, because it was the way I was raised and as I have said many times, I think we often come to see our childhoods as the Holy Grail of how things should be done. But, my husband is not vegetarian. And I am well-aware of many vegetarians, such as myself, who often load up on carbs and dairy--which doesn't seem particularly well-balanced or healthy. I also happened upon this article, which claims that kids who are raised vegetarian are at greater risk for developing weird eating issues later in life. Go figure: You can find statistics to support both sides of this issue. Quel surprise.
Thoughts? Many Indians are vegetarian--are you? Is your spouse? Do you want to raise your kids to eat flesh?!? (Yes--I know it is a loaded way to phrase the question...!)