Chelsea Clinton served meat at her wedding last month. Most people do, but in Clinton’s case that meant serving food she wouldn’t eat herself. Chelsea is a vegetarian. Her decision to serve meat at the wedding sparked a debate about whether the wedding menu is about the bride or her guests.
Simply put: should Chelsea’s ethics rule over the food she serves, or are her vegetable-loving ways a private preference she shouldn’t impose on her wedding guests?
The New York Times ably explores the issue of vegetarian brides and the meals they serve at their receptions.
What I really want to know is: what will Chelsea feed her kids, assuming she and her new husband have any?
I’m a vegetarian, raising two kids in a vegetarian household. The second question everyone asks me about this, right after wondering aloud if they won’t perish from malnutrition, is, “Shouldn’t your kids be allowed to choose for themselves?” or “When are you going to let them make up their own minds?”
I typically quip something like, “When they’re old enough to cook.”
The truth, of course, is more complex. I’m a vegetarian because I think it’s the healthiest choice for my body and for my planet. It’s also the diet most in line with my personal ethics. I don’t judge anyone else’s decision to eat meat, and I’m happy to serve meat at parties – as long as someone else cooks it.
But my kids aren’t old enough to understand the complex health and ethical issues involved in choosing to eat meat or not. Since they are my children, they get to grow up with my default setting until they’re old enough to make an informed decision to change it.
I suspect that really will be around the time they’re old enough to cook their own meals, but it’s not the cooking I’m waiting for. It’s the critical thinking skills.
Are you a vegetarian? Have you raised your kids that way? On the other hand, are you a meat-eater with vegetarian kids? Do you think parents should impose their preferred diets on their kids, or let the children choose what they want?