Annie has decided to be a vegetarian. Previously, she was a vegetarian based on taste preferences. She has never, since she was a baby, eaten meat willingly – save 3 occasions. One was when she was at a restaurant with Mommy and Daddy (maybe a year ago) and they ordered a very fancy salad that had shredded duck on top. Annie liked that duck. Another time she ate part of a hot dog. And another time she tried bacon and liked it. Otherwise, she has rejected all meat, including other offers of hot dog or bacon.

But now it is different. Before Annie hadn’t understood that meat comes from animals. Now she knows that you are eating a pig, or a cow, and this is very upsetting. Mommy and Daddy, who have dabbled in vegetarianism in the past, are trying local meats now – but not Annie. She is staunchly opposed, morally, to eating meat. She often asks if her peanut butter sandwich has any meat in it, or her cereal, or her fruit. Mommy has reassured Annie that she will not sneak any meat into anything – she will tell Annie first – but Annie wants to be on the safe side and so she asks. The other night Mommy served fish and put some on Annie’s plate. Annie, in exasperation, had to explain again that she is a vegetarian, and she gave the fish to daddy who was (as usual) happy to take her rejected food. Mommy tried to explain that you could be a pescatarian and eat fish but not other meat – but Annie listened skeptically and then lost interest.

She is more interested in the differences between vegetarians and vegans. She is not a vegan but she likes to think about ethics and morality. Is it right to eat animal products? Mommy and Daddy are okay with it, but they often have somewhat lenient morals, seeing shades of grey where there is, in reality, only black and white. One cannot make decisions based solely on Mommies and Daddies. But how could one give up milk and cheese and eggs?

Her other food-related quandary is on the subject of Healthy and Unhealthy food. She likes the taste of unhealthy foods. But she knows they are not good for her. She thinks that if she eats too much of them, she will die. Mommy and Daddy, again, are not much help here – when she tries to discuss this with them, the thought of imminent death and exactly how many M&Ms it would take to kill a girl, they are very wishy-washy. They go on and on and on, saying all different contradictory things about how it wouldn’t kill her, but it kind of would if she ate nothing but M?&Ms for for long enough, but it wouldn’t really, and treats are just for special occasions, and on and on without answering the question Annie asked – the important question. It comes down to this: if unhealthy food will kill you, Annie shouldn’t eat it at all, but if it won’t kill you, then why not eat it all the time, if it tastes good?

Sometimes Annie swears off unhealthy food – the other day she said “I will never eat M&Ms again, because they will rot my teeth”, which she heard from a dentist who visited her school back in Connecticut – but this is only when she doesn’t have any unhealthy food in front of her. When she has toast with a pat of butter on it sitting in front of her, she will eat the pat of butter without hesitation. 

But she is very careful never to give anything unhealthy to Cora Rose. Before giving anything to her sister to eat, she will always check with Mommy to see if it is healthy, and if not she will tell Cora Rose, very sweetly, “No, little baby,” and then proceed to eat the unhealthy thing just slightly out of reach of her sister, in full view.

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