My Little Carnivore

Kate eats meat.

No two ways about it, she is a carnivore — okay, an omnivore — in her little almost 6-year-old heart, and you know what? I’m not going to fight it.

It all started with shrimp, either at a Christmas Eve celebration (we do the Feast of the Seven Fishes) or a wedding reception of some kind, and it’s gone on from there.

When she buys lunch at school (about once or twice a month), she gets the meat option (unless lunch is cheese pizza). “Hey, mom, I had popcorn for lunch today!” “You mean you had popcorn chicken today.” “Yeah, and I liked it!” She recently had a hamburger, too, which made me cringe a little bit because I’m not crazy about the idea of her eating cafeteria meat. Sorry, school. (I’m not really sorry. School lunches aren’t that healthy, we all know this.)

She asked for a piece of turkey at Thanksgiving, and I gave it to her. She ate Flora’s piece too. And had a turkey sandwich the next day.

(Flora is a vegetarian at heart. She’s equal parts appalled by Kate’s interest in meat and slightly envious of her chutzpah to ask for it.)

Here are the reasons I’m cool with this:

1. She’s eating, and she eats well. She continues to eat a variety of foods: grains, carbs, fruits, vegetables. Girl will eat two helpings of salad when I serve it. She says she eats the vegetables (or fruit) in the cafeteria, and drinks milk.

2. She continues to eat vegetarian at home. I seldom cook meat at home anyway. Dan only gets to eat with us twice a week, so it’s four mostly vegetarians for dinner each night. She doesn’t complain.

3. Eating meat doesn’t seem to bother her, and don’t think she does it to be defiant. I think she does it because she’s curious. I don’t make a big deal of it with her, and I’ve made that clear, that I’m not mad she wants to eat meat, and I’m not mad she does. Nothing constructive is going to come of that!

The only not-cool thing is when I pack her a lunch (only almost every day!), and she says she “forgot” and buys lunch instead. We’re still working on this issue. I spend time making lunches, for one, and for two: school lunches cost money. Once in awhile is fine, but I’m not putting out nearly $15 for lunch in a week. No.

When Kate is older (for that matter, when all my kids are older), I’m sure we’ll talk more in depth about vegetarianism. I am vegetarian for a variety of reasons, among them the fact that I don’t like the taste of meat. Kate does. Maybe when she understands some other issues (environmentalism, meat additives like hormones and antibiotics, the differences in local meat versus trucked in grocery store meat), she change things up.

But until then? Kate eats meat.