When I was 4-years-old I began to detest fish. I couldn’t eat it, touch it or smell it without feeling ill. This hasn’t changed in the three decades since. When I was sixteen I finally became vegetarian as I didn’t like meat very much and felt I was just being fussy otherwise.
I’ve been happy with my dietary choices since, but it has left me feeling slightly conflicted for Reindeer.
Since weaning began I’ve known that I want to give Reindeer the choice of what he eats. Including fish and meat. However, this is proving more difficult than I anticipated. Tonight I decided to make fish for Reindeer’s dinner, the first time he’s eaten anything other than fruit, veg or dairy. It was incredibly difficult, having to touch raw and cooked fish, I struggled not to gag or retch. But it was worth it. He ate all of it!
I’ve come across a lot of comments that, if you are a vegetarian or vegan parent, you shouldn’t compromise your values and give your child those foods you abstain from. Clearly I disagree with this and that is for the very simple reason that it is his choice, not mine. Humans are omnivorous. Pushing Reindeer into a vegetarian diet immediately denies him the opportunity to try the diet his body is adapted for. I’m not going to pretend I eat the same things, and I hope we can talk about diet as one of the many ways people differ.
I need to remember that Reindeer isn’t me and this is one of many choices in life where we may well differ. My job is to help him learn to understand differing points of view without feeling the need to impose his way as the right way.