Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Children...An Unessay!

I'm not writing an essay about children! Why not? I can't take the ::sighs:: anymore. I am forty-six years old and I am child free by choice. I knew when I was fifteen years old that I had no interest in giving birth or mothering. The reasons for my decision are not what is important here, but the reactions of friends, family and even total strangers are important. Throughout my twenties people would ask when I was going to have children and I always explained that I liked children, but giving birth and being a mother had no appeal for me. My response was always met with a deep sigh and usually a clicking tongue. The question changed in my thirties...How soon are you going to have children?...Your biological clock is ticking, you know! ::sigh:: Um...ok, that's a good reason to have children if ever I have heard one! Now, in my forties the question has taken a different turn...Aren't you afraid you're missing something by not having children? Who will take care of you in your old age? ::sigh::

The reason I decided to write this unessay about children grows out of a conversation I recently had in which a mother tried to tell me that there is no greater love than the love a mother has for her children. She also went on to tell me that I was missing out on that love. She was not the first to make that comment to me and I am sure she will not be the last. I usually do not try to respond to that kind of comment or to justify my decision making, but maybe Vegan Views offers the forum where I can give voice to my heart. I wanted so much to say to that mother that for me love is not something that can be rank ordered. I am certain that there are different kinds of love and different ways of expressing love, but love of one's own children is no greater or better than the love I feel for all life. As I write these words, I realize that I feel resentful at the suggestion that someone has to give birth to know the greatest love imaginable. It seems to me that such a view devalues the love of people who for whatever reasons cannot give birth. It devalues the love adoptive parents feel for their children. It devalues the love I feel for my friends and family (human and nonhuman!). Love is there for all of us...in so many ways and forms if we simply open our hearts.

I have always been willing to openly discuss my decision to not have children, but my intent has never been to win people over to my views. There are no sides as far as I am concerned. Thoughtful, heartfelt discussion about children and what they mean in our lives can only make the world a better place for children. I have such deep respect for anyone who decides to have children, but I have trouble seeing myself asking someone why they decided to have children and then heaving a deep sigh at their response! You know, those sighs I get always sound as if I am being accused of violating some sort of law! So, no, these words are not an essay about children and no one needs to sigh or click or their tongue. It's not that I am afraid to speak on the subject of children or to face the judgment of others. I know myself, and I will probably never stop answering sincere questions about my decision to not have children. But I suspect I will be more outspoken about love as a life force that cannot be measured and what that love means in terms of reverence for all life.

C. Michele M.
Missouri

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The Food Allergy
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