In about two and a half months, I'll be a father.
That, in a nutshell, is my excuse for having been absent from this space for a few months.
Every spare minute, it seems, is spent going to doctor's visits, reading parenting articles or finding out what "episiotomy" means. (Do NOT Google it.)
What does becoming a dad have to do with a vegan food column? Everything! (What, did you expect me to say "Nothing" and just end there?)
The life-changing experience of becoming a dad is what drove author Jonathan Safran Foer to investigate the food his child would soon eat and eventually write "Eating Animals," one of the most influential books around for most vegetarians.
For me, it's about a central question: Am I going to let my kid eat meat?
It's a legitimate question, and I've been asked it a few times, along with, "Are you ready to never sleep again?" which is as nonsensical as "Hey, how 'bout that weather?"
A child's diet is one of the biggest areas of control I'll have as a parent. I'll get to dictate what my son* eats because I am the one buying the food.
*Spoiler alert. It's a boy.**
**Second spoiler alert: Bruce Willis was dead the whole time.
I have talked to parent after parent who have had no problem raising their child vegetarian or vegan (the latter meaning no dairy on top of no meat), with no health issues. And, more importantly, when the child was old enough to start making his or her own decisions, they unanimously kept with the vegetarian diet because they had no inclination to eat meat. I'm hoping, but not assuming, my son does the same.
To some of you, a meatless diet for a child might sound like brainwashing.
But hey, I think you could make the same argument of raising your kid to eat any particular diet, since no matter what, they are eating what you're eating.
If you raise your kid to love McDonald's, they are probably going to eat it forever, right? Is that brainwashing?
I do know there's no one right way to raise your kid (although I am sure the Honey Boo Boo way is not the right way.) But raising my kid vegetarian will, at the least, get him off to a healthy start to life. And he'll need it, because his old man likely will pass off such loveliness as bad eyesight, migraines and a penchant for hitting his shin on things. I, admittedly, have no idea how to raise a kid. Good Lord, I don't know how any new parent could say they do.
But I am looking forward to it, more than I could have ever imagined. Sure, there will be tantrums, crying, and protests -- and I'm sure my son will get upset, too.
But we'll both get to bond as father and son, and I hope it's over a meal or two. I hope he'll look up to me. I hope he'll respect my decision not to eat animal products, and one day make his own commitment to do the same.
I've got about two months to figure it all out.