From the time I was pretty young, it always bubbled underneath the surface. Eating meat felt inherently wrong to me. If I stopped to think about it, I quickly fell down the rabbit hole. While I’m on the topic of rabbits, it was even so apparent that anything that looked like an animal would get under my skin. I used to save alot of my chocolate bunnies at Easter time because I just couldn’t eat them because it made me think of eating animals in some strange way (even though I intellectually knew it was just chocolate), but because they had faces on them, and I knew I couldn’t control eating meat at that point in my life, it seemed like something I could have some control over in some ridiculous way in the mind of a warped 8 year olds mind.
About a year and a half ago, I decided to finally try being a vegetarian to lessen some of the guilt I felt in my life (guilt is a real issue for me). I made it several months without eating any meat at all. But there were certain situations that made it very hard. And because of those situations, I have modified my diet in to what I call (thanks to a former student of mine for coining or passing along this term) a Flexetarian. I eat animal meat on certain occasions but try to refrain when I am just at home on a day to day regular basis. I eat meat on special holidays that involve traditional meals such as Thanksgiving. I eat meat when I am at other people’s houses so that I don’t have to imposition anyone, or make anyone feel uncomfortable due to my own decisions in life. My husband also is more of the chef in the family and he enjoyed making specific meals and was very disappointed when I chose to become a Vegetarian because it would mean missing out on sharing those meals with me, and I didn’t like seeing him disappointed or feeling as though we were losing something we enjoyed doing together (including going out to eat and often sharing meals etc…)
Which brings me to my last reason for modifying. I am a picky eater. And it was often hard to find things at restaurants that I could eat or modify or that would be satisfying beyond a side garden salad. I really feel that restaurants need to implement a couple of different universal standards in their menus. There are certain groups that I think they should have options available for as the numbers within these groups increase. I think there should be some options that are peanut free, as this is a life threatening allergy that has increased exponentially. There should be options that are gluten free. There should be options that are vegetarian and/or vegan. And I think for those 3 categories that the options should be meals that are fairly base standards that could please a good majority of people or could be added to should others want extra flavor, like a build your own pasta type options.
And then I think for kids menus there should be certain standards in every single restaurant. I was honestly ASTOUNDED when we went to the Be Our Guest restaurant in Disney World, a place that caters to children, and even though they are looking to have a hoity toity ambience, their selections on the children’s menu were all abominable for a child who is a picky eater. And my child is a picky eater, not because I’m a bad mom and wouldn’t refuse to be a short order cook and gave in to her and didn’t force her to have what we were having, but because she has Asperger’s Autism, and textures bother her and smells bother her. She’s even picky about types of pizza. There’s only about 2 places she’ll eat pizza from. It’s not because she’s a spoiled brat. She’s very sensitive. I think every restaurant should have the following on children’s menus: (and no, these are not all things my kid eats, but things I think would cover almost all bases)
Hamburger/Cheeseburger, Chicken Nuggets, Hot Dog, Mac and Cheese, Grilled Cheese, Pizza Slice (Cheese or Pepperoni), Spaghetti (with option of meatballs or meatsauce or just sauce).
Forgive me if I am forgetting another large category of “special eaters” out there. That isn’t my intention. I hope that I do not come across sounding like a Veruca Salt spoiled brat that feels like the world needs to bend it’s ways to everyone. I just feel that these groups of people have either health issues or a world philosophical reason that is worth having a standard menu that can be counted on being at any restaurant they visit, and then hopefully more available within that restaurants particular cuisine as well for each subsection. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, but then again, I’m not in the restaurant business. And maybe I am a stuck up food snob that is perpetuating some of the rigidity that is rampant in the world today. But my parents were the type that made me sit at the dinner table till I finished everything on my plate and made me eat everything they ate (the only thing they spared me was the liver-thank God). But, everything my parents made me try as a kid that I didn’t like back then, I still don’t like as an adult. The only exceptions to that are that I like some of those things of they are prepared differently than how my mother cooked and prepared them (ie: caramelized onions (which I now like) vs. onions just thrown in every dish raw and cooked in the meal- or raw onions in my tuna fish sandwiches-which I despised). So, that method didn’t do anything for me. I liked what I liked…Period.