Have you ever been a victim of vegetarianism-ism?
Chances are that if you're a vegetarian by choice, then you have. There are laws to protect most minority groups from discrimination, abuse and ridicule (and rightly so) but what about human rights for vegetarians?
Of course, many vegetarians have dietary requirements related to their culture or religion and they are protected by anti-discrimination laws, but for those of us who choose vegetarianism for secular reasons, we apparently have to put up with derision for our beliefs.
Take for example my daughters Miss Ony and Miss Kahonie; They've been shown pity, ridicule and downright rudeness by their peers and some 'grown ups'...this behaviour has even bordered on that of persistent bullying and I am currently poised to go into school and complain about this. Their peers have told them that they should eat meat and have sneered at their discomfort in defending their beliefs publicly. They've had meat waved under their noses at lunch time, and been told how delicious dead animal flesh tastes. Can you imagine them getting away with pushing drugs or alcohol at school? Well to me, this isn't so different.
Meat is something that I have chosen to do without and have brought my children up accordingly. To us, eating a burger is comparable to eating our pet cat or next door's budgie.Talking of burgers, how come a certain well known burger chain doesn't think that vegetarian kids exist? Come to mention it, Virgin Atlantic don't either.
I've been veggie for around 20 years now and have become used to defending my beliefs and my right to bring up my children on a vegetarian diet. I politely stand my ground and explain that we do not 'miss out' and that there really are plenty more delicious foods than chicken nuggets (the staple food for UK kids, it would seem!) People seem fascinated in what we do and don't eat, and seem to want to try to trick us up. If you're interested, no, we don't eat fish, and yes, we do eat free-range/organic eggs and milk.
If all else fails, I tell them that we don't eat anything with a face or that we forage in the hedgerows for nuts and berries which normally shuts them up! Goodness knows how much stick we'd get if we were vegans!
If you want support and advice for bring up a veggie family, then try the Vegetarian Society. They have loads of helpful fact sheets, recipes and a forum.