Animal Activist and Vegetarian, Larry Mann, on raising an Omnivore teen.
What are your reasons for becoming a vegetarian?
As a child I was taken on a tour at Pierce College to observe their animal husbandry class. The students had to slaughter pigs that they had raised. I was mortified and stopped eating pork from that day on. Years later, in 1982, I came to realize that cows, chicken, and fish were no different and removed all animals from my diet.
You are a parent of a teenager. How do you make the decision whether a child should follow?
My ex-wife, at the time was a vegetarian like me and we raised our daughter to eat only chicken and turkey. When she was 5 years old, I told her she could eat whatever she wished. My friend who was babysitting her called and said that Madeleine wanted a burger. Not one to put my morals on someone else, I said it was fine. She has been eating meat ever since. If she decides to share my beliefs and diet, that will be her decision.
What difficulties does being a vegetarian, but raising a meat eater present?
At first I wasn’t happy cooking meat, but I knew it was necessary. She doesn’t eat a lot of meat, so it is not an everyday ordeal. I purchased a separate cutting board used strictly for meat, fowl and fish.
When preparing meals that involve animal products, I make sure to not cross contaminate utensils, pans, plates, etc. My daughter, who helps out, is also conscientious of this. Sometimes she wants to make hot dogs and peas for us. She will cut the package open for my veggie hot dogs first and place them in a separate pan, before opening her regular version.
Take us through a day of breakfast, lunch and dinner with you and your daughter?
We don’t have a regular schedule for meals. I have a smoothie every morning. Some days she will make her own breakfast, others she will have cereal or oatmeal. Most lunches are at school. Dinners vary. I think we are both burned out on spaghetti, the go to dish that doesn’t involve animal products. Some nights we will make pizza using Trader Joe’s pizza dough. I always have a vegetable along with dinner such as salads, broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, or whatever she is in the mood for.
On nights, when we do go out to eat, she usually orders something with either cheese or bacon…the exact opposite of her father.
If she were to decide to become a vegetarian, what is the best way to ensure she is getting enough protein in her diet?
Because we still eat a lot of vegetarian items, people question if she gets enough protein. Being a vegetarian for so long, I have studied nutrition in detail and try to keep up on new food items to eat. Most people don’t realize how much protein is in a healthy diet. Excluding animal products, eggs, and dairy, you can still get more than enough protein from broccoli, spinach, legumes, nuts and many other items. Check out:
What are some of the best meat alternatives you have found?
Roasts fields roast sausage in casing
Gimme Lean Sausage
What are your favorite vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles?
My Vegan Gold
Sage Vegan Bistro
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