As a fallen vegan, I notice animal products on the label. My informed children make their own choices on the marshmallow question—Dylann, at six, abstains ethical grounds, while Robin, at three, says they're "sad, but delicious." I drink milk and cream from the neighbor's cow and goat milk from my own two does. I also consume store-bought dairy products, but not without a moral burden. I realize that it's the wrong thing for me, with my position on animal welfare, to do. I would like to stop.
In a perfect world, I would like to cook from scratch. Grow my own. Avoid all animal products except those raised in my very own yard, produced by happy, healthy animals, and produced in a system where all male offspring of said animals could end up in happy pet homes. It's not a viable solution for many, but it could be within reach for me.
Parents, what do you do when you've gradually slid into the habit of feeding your children tinned peaches and Annie's mac 'n' cheese? How do you retrain palates that have been introduced to Krispy Kreme donuts and A&W floats? How do you convince your kids that eating with the seasons really does mean no strawberries in December?
I still have dietary restrictions. I haven't eaten red meat since 1987, and I won't eat a bird again once I finish the sad obligation of eating the 20 home-grown chickens in my freezer. That was an experiment in meat-eating that failed, personally, for me. It just doesn't feel right. I don't eat produce from outside the US, save the occasional B.C. grown-tomato or imported avocado (my weakness). I praise my children for their vegetarianism, and feel grateful that my two littlest ones avoid (non-fish) meat completely.
I would like to say that I won't eat dairy again, unless it's produced by my own very happy goats. I would like to say that I will never touch a soy- or corn- byproduct with a ten foot pole, and that all of my food will be grown in or around this productive valley. I would like to say that my children, my animals and I will eat locally, sustainably, organically, seasonally, and ethically. From experience, I can tell you that those would be false promises. Perhaps, in this season of resolutions, I should say this: I will think about what I'm buying. I will think about it with less guilt and more self-empowerment—not in terms of blaming myself for each choice, but in terms of thanking myself for each choice. I will take credit, in my own mind, for what I do RIGHT. Perhaps my right choices will snowball, and I'll find myself eating without guilt.
*not a real statistic—just pulled this one out of thin air