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    Pesca-what?

    “We all love animals.  Why do we call some ‘pets’ and others ‘dinner?'”

    k.d. lang

    I’m a pescatarian, which is basically a vegetarian who eats seafood.  Ever since I was a child, I was bothered by the sight of meat on my plate, but I couldn’t articulate my feelings.  I wasn’t aware that there were such people as vegetarians; I just thought that I should learn to like meat like everyone else.  I went to great lengths to try to disguise morsels of beef and chicken and veal by mixing them in with other food on my plate.  I was sure that a piece of steak would be more palatable if it was covered with corn and mashed potatoes, but no matter how it went in, it was always tough for me to swallow.

    Once I left home and was in charge of my own meals, I was essentially a pescatarian, but I didn’t officially present that title to the world because it seemed  inconvenient.  I thought it would be rude, for instance, if I was invited to someone’s home for dinner and then didn’t eat the meat that had been prepared.  (I definitely had a ‘pleaser’ mentality.)  Finally, in my twenties, I boldly ‘came-out’ of the meat-locker and announced that I was a fish-eating vegetarian.  It was such a relief!

    My husband enjoys eating meat, but he also loves seafood so it hasn’t posed a problem for him to be a part of a pescatarian household.  When it comes to our daughters, they aren’t presented with the opportunity to eat meat very often, but I don’t stop them  if they choose to try it.  I plan to share my beliefs with the girls when they’re older, and I will respect whatever choices they make.

    It seems, however, that I might be having the conversation with my three-year-old daughter, Pip,  a little earlier than anticipated.  Pip typically loves eating fish, but lately she has started asking questions like, “Mama, what was this fish doing?”

    “What do you mean, Honey?”

    “I mean, was it swimming?”

    “Yes, it was swimming.”  I quickly launch into a little prayer of thanks to the fish at this point, both to divert the conversation and express our gratitude, and we carry on with our meal.  The last time we had salmon, though, Pip wouldn’t touch it.

    “Eat some of your fish please, Pip.”

    “No, Mama, I can’t.”

    “Why not?”

    “I just don’t know about it, Mama.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I just don’t know what it’s going to do when it’s inside me,” she started to cry at this point.

    Pip had imagined that the salmon would come to life in her wee belly and resume swimming.  Creepy.  Despite all attempts to assuage her fears, she did not eat the fish.

    I thought she had forgotten the fish discussion until the following morning.  We were playing with horses and Pip was very curious about their diet.  “What do horses eat, Mama?”

    “Well, your Auntie used to have a horse named Misty, and I know that she liked to eat grass and apples and carrots, and sugar cubes!”

    “Do horses eat fish?”

    “No, I don’t think so, Pip.”

    “Mama, I don’t want to eat horses,”  Pip said.

    “Of course not, Pip, you don’t have to eat horses.”

    “I don’t want animals to be died, I want them to run around and swim a little bit.”

    “That’s very kind of you, Pip,” and I left it at that.  Believe it or not, that brief conversation with Pip has me reconsidering my choice to eat seafood.  Suddenly, when I imagine explaining to my daughters why I eat fish, but not meat, my argument seems weak.  In fact, I’m a hypocrite.  I am bothered by the notion of eating animals that bond with their young, yet I will kill a crab and eat it.  It turns my stomach to see a rack of lamb, but I’ll happily bang on a goat-skin drum.  I own leather shoes, a leather jacket, and at this very moment I’m lying on a leather couch!  Like I said,  it’s hypocritical!

    I should clarify that I’m not attempting to persuade anyone out there to become a vegetarian, my point is simply this: is it not a beautiful thing when your three-year-old daughter inspires you to reevaluate your belief system?  I have always set high standards for myself, but now, more than ever, I want to be the best person I can be, because I know what an important role model I am for two glorious little people.  My daughters make me want to be a better woman.  What a gift.

    2 comments to Pesca-what?

    • oh this is a good one karen!
      this subject does keep resurfacing in our life… but we haven’t made the exit from meat loving to completely veggie loving. we are eating more vegetables – and more meals without meat of any sort. it does make me question what i think about things as my daughter proclaims that it is wrong to eat meat. ‘but i love it’ just isn’t good enough any more, for anything.
      you’ve articulated everything right here so well. thanks for the good read!

    • Karen

      Thanks so much Jennifer. Now, with your background in cooking, I’d love to have some of your favourite suggestions for meatless dinners! I’m always looking for new ideas!

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