she will NOT ask for another.
She will ask for a soda and some ginger mint tea, and she will spend the afternoon curled up in bed with a tummy ache.
This is what happened to our 6 year old daughter this week.
This week she completed Kindergarten. On their last day, they had Field Day, a day full of fun and games and races, a dunk tank, snow cones, a bounce house, and more! We told her that we would try to get there a little early to pick her up so we could see all the fun things she was doing and maybe even watch her in a race. When we got there, however, we were told that her class was in the cafeteria having lunch.
For the record, she was in morning Kindergarten and so she typically has lunch at home, but we had been told that there was a possibility that they might be having hot dogs, so if we wanted to send her with a vegan hot dog just in case that would be fine. Well, we forgot to send her with a vegan hot dog (since we don’t normally keep processed faux meat in our house), so Shannon’s first thought when we heard they were in the cafeteria was, “Oh no! She’s being left out!” If only that were true….
When we arrived in the cafeteria, Shannon went over to where our daughter was sitting, and seeing her eating a hot dog, immediately asked, “What are you eating?” Our sweet, innocent daughter replied, “A hot dog.” Shannon: “But it’s not vegan, sweetie.” Daughter: (worried, sad look on her face) “I didn’t know.” Shannon: (taking the last 2 bites of hot dog out of her hand) “It’s ok. I’m not mad. You didn’t know it was meat.” And then Shannon proceeded to walk over to the teacher with the remainder of the hot dog in hand and a stern look on her face, and said, “My daughter was eating this.”
The teacher was very apologetic, and said she hadn’t gotten over to her table yet to check her lunch bag and didn’t know the cafeteria staff had put a hot dog in her bag. In all fairness, it was rather chaotic in the cafeteria, and we know that there was no malicious intent on their part, and no irreparable damage was done (not like giving our son a peanut butter sandwich), so Shannon didn’t totally ream her out, and yet the point was made. She simply said, “Well, I told [my daughter] I wasn’t mad at her. It wasn’t her fault. She didn’t know.”
We assured our daughter over and over and over that we were not angry with her, and we discussed the lesson we learned about not assuming food is vegan, and also how we might all be more careful in the future. (1) She will always ask, “Is it vegan?” (2) We will remember to send a substitution any time there is even a possibility of special food being served (although this is less likely to be an issue with her in the future, since she will always have a lunch packed for her from 1st grade on), and (3) In preparation for when our (peanut-allergic) son enters school in a few years, we will definitely have more conversations with the school about being more conscious and careful about food.
Speaking of consciousness…As Shannon strapped her into her car seat, our daughter asked, “What animal did I eat?” Despite the mistake, she wanted to be conscious of the “friend” she had unknowingly consumed.
So, if you give a vegan a hot dog, the first day, she will get a tummy ache….
But the next day, she will have a tummy ache and be cranky.
We anticipated that our daughter would have some digestive problems after eating meat, but what we had not considered were the mood swings and emotional impact it would have on her. If you’re going to accidentally eat meat, hot dogs are not the purest form of meat, and public school cafeteria hot dogs are undoubtedly some of the lowest quality available. I’m quite sure our daughter did not consume a free range, grass fed, all beef hot dog. Rather, she more likely ate a variety of unknown animal parts (possibly from a variety of animal sources), pumped full of chemicals and hormones, and God only knows what else.
And so when our sweet natured daughter suddenly manifested signs of what can only be described as monster behavior the day after eating this totally foreign substance to her body, it occurred to us that there was going to be more of a problem than simply digestive issues. Meat in and of itself was foreign to her body, but having eaten something overly processed and full of hormones and chemicals, she had eaten something entirely foreign to her body, and it was impacting not only her digestive tract, but every part of her being, including her brain. This incident caused us to question whether we truly realize the impact food has on our entire being.
If you give a vegan a hot dog, she’ll have a tummy ache, and mood swings…
But if you give her love and whole foods, she’ll be just fine.