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I Used to Be a Pescatarian; Now, I Eat Meat for My Kids

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I was at a Los Angeles bar when I met a blue-eyed New Yorker who told me about the best burger in the world, the Sourdough Jack from Jack in The Box. He spent 45 minutes enthusiastically describing every nuance from burger to bun, sure that I’d be so intrigued by his story that I’d accept his invitation to go get one. I paused for a moment and then said, “I’ve been a pescatarian for 15 years.” Years later, he told me he almost considered not dating me because I didn’t eat meat. We’re married now with two kids, so I’m certainly glad he went out with me, despite his reservations.

Truthfully, I’ve never had anything against meat or meat eaters. In high school, I just woke up one day and no longer wanted to eat meat. And so, I no longer ate meat. I’d eat fish, but beef and chicken were out. I just wasn’t interested. I figured that if one day I woke up and wanted a steak, I’d eat it. But since that never happened, I spent the better part of 15 years as a pescatarian (ie. someone who will eat fish but not meat or poultry).

A pre-kid bought with mercury poisoning made me re-think how much fish I was eating. I still didn’t want to eat meat, but I had to figure out how to get protein in my diet without overloading on fish. The thought of spending a lifetime eating beans and rice never appealed to me. And so I started to open my mind to going back to eating meat, though at the time I didn’t do it.

After I became a mom, my views on food changed. I wasn’t making choices just for myself any longer. I was making food choices for an entire family, and I was the default food role model for my kids. Whatever I ate, they’d probably eat (and vice versa). Knowing that my kids would emulate my eating habits made me do a lot of soul searching about what I was willing to eat.

So just like that, I stopped being a pescatarian. I started eating chicken and meat so that my children would eat chicken and meat. I grew up in a household where everyone talked about diets and weight loss all the time — and I live in a health-and-diet-obsessed city (hello, LA!) —  so I’ve never wanted food to become an issue in my house. I’ve only ever wanted my kids to love food. I knew that meant I shouldn’t restrict my diet, which meant biting the bullet and eating some meat.

I can’t say that I love burgers or that I think chicken is the bees knees, but I love that my children and I can share a meal together without me separating myself and eating something different than they are. Until my kids are adults and can make their own choices, the only conversation I want them to have about food is the one where they ask for more and say whatever they just tried was delicious.

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Photo: Getty