Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Raising An Only - When Your Kid Goes Vegan

If there ever was a case to have dinners with your family every blooming night, this is it.

We had gotten out of the habit at the beginning of summer.  It was hot; hotter than us Puget Sounders are used too, we were crazy busy with a plethora of projects - the house, the barn, the garden, the fencing and any other excuse you can think of.  We just stopped having dinner together - let alone cooking dinner.  We were all grazing and picking and getting by.  It took me awhile, but I noticed our daughter's eating habits had changed.   It was really seeped in when my mother called and said "why didn't you tell us?"

"Um, just figured it out in the last ten minutes, mom," because we are loser parents.

There was no announcement when our sixteen year old daughter decided she was vegan.  There was no tossing of everything meat, dairy, most of the stuff in our cupboards.  It happened like this:

Me, standing at the kitchen sink: "You don't eat meat anymore do you?"

Her, attitudey, defensive and ready for a fight: "No."

Then she took the container of blueberries and went to her room.

Now this is a kid who has been raised fairly independently.  In today's world you could call it tossed-out-on-her-ear (but she's not).  She went to her first week long overnight camp at the age of seven.  She's been to more sports and music camps away from home than any kid I know - often times knowing NOBODY.  She's done her own laundry since she was eight.  She's had to carry her own library books out of the library since she could walk. At two, she sat on the steps at the front door struggling to put her own shoe on, spewing "I do it my-THELF" to anyone daring to offer assistance.

But this whole, "I'm vegan and I don't eat meat or dairy anymore" threw me for a loop.

I'm all for trying different things and making sure you have access to your own beliefs.  I'm all for stepping out of the box your parents have created for you.  I'm all for doing whatever you think will make the world a better place.  Hey, have at it.

I'm just not going to change the way I do things.

Yes, you read that right.  I'm not going to give up chicken teriyaki just because you did.  Or my glass of Instant Breakfast in milk.  Or oatmeal cookies that have eggs and processed sugar in them.

Luckily she's been living with us long enough to know this was the case - and she wasn't asking us too.  In fact, she told me NOT to go out of my way and make dinners especially for her.

But the kid's gotta eat.

We've always had fruit around the house.  The Hubs just made sure there was more.  She started buying her own coconut and almond milk, sneaking off to the grocery store after work and coming home with weird crap vegan food.  That was fine, but I felt a little bit parental that she shouldn't be spending all her work money on food.  So I took her to Trader Joe's.  Since she was pretty new into this experiment, she wasn't even going to go in.

This was when I figured she hadn't done all her due-diligence.

Mom stepped in.

Unfortunately, and took over, but more on that later (or not, we could just forget about that part).

I came home and started a google search.  Seriously, what did we do before google was a verb?  I guess go to the library and pray someone had written a book because I had no one I could call in my meat-eating friends list.

I found some websites to be a lifesaver.  I also started paying attention to what I was cooking (wait, I was cooking?) and how to make it work so The Child could have dinner with us.  Now we have some ideas under our belt.  And I don't have to cook a whole different meal - oh, wait, wasn't going too, and she doesn't expect me too.

Stir fry - I make the rice and the veggies and do the meat in a different pan.

Cowboy caviar - beans, cilantro, avocado, tomatoes and whatever else Pinterest tells me to put in there.

Salsa - lots of salsa.  The chips we get seem to be on the okay list.

Seven layer dip - refried beans, tomatoes, olives, green chilies, salsa (see?) and chips.  Cheese and sour cream for The Hubs and I are added later.  Does that only make it a five layer dip?

Cereal - almost as much as salsa.  She just uses her almond milk.

Fruit - coming out our ears

Anything that grows in the garden- go graze, I've been weeding it since March, might as well harvest some of it while you are at it.

Pasta - with red spaghetti sauce and penne pasta.

That's pretty much all I've come up with at this point (it's also summer and I've cooked a total of ten times in three months).  Oh, the part about me taking over?  I knew you'd come back around to that.  Last night when I was at Winco, I texted her telling her where I was.  I was sorta hoping she was still at band camp and too busy to answer my text but Lady Luck was out having a margarita somewhere.
Fourteen texts later.

All out of order and random and me kind of done with the day (did I mention that I don't do the grocery shopping in the house - she just had eaten of my mixed nuts and I needed to replenish and Winco is the cheapest place to do that).

"The pepper ones"  Pepper what? Almonds or cashews?  We are still talking nuts, right?

"Don't read ingredients; just go with anything that says vegan".  (Which was NOTHING)

"The Cookie Dough stuff."  Which apparently was some sort of ice cream.

"I don't need anything fake meat, or yogurt"  Got the meat text; not the yogurt one.

And on and on it went.

Note:  The dairy-free cheese is apparently not vegan enough.  Just in case you are in the same boat.

I was quickly fired from vegan shopping.

Yes, I'm bitching.  Yes, I should lay off.  No, I am not judging ANYONE choosing to eat vegan.  This is simply my experience into this whole new foray.  Will it last?  Who knows?  Not my call.  Her best friend, when we were ordering out at a restaurant, and The Teenager was hemming and hawing and googeling, looks at me and says "You're the best mom ever for doing this."

Which I asked her repeat because my kid says HER (the friend's) mom is the best mom ever.

She wouldn't repeat it.  But I had my recording device ready in case she did.

Some of the sites that have been lifesavers.  Or have at least been informative:

Cooking With Trader Joe's   

Urban Taste Bud - Restaurant listings

Happy Cow

All Recipes  (1,395 recipes later....)

I'm sure there's more.  If you know of others, or staples to add to the dinner table, let me know!

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