“But Where Do You Get Your Protein?”

Ok. So, I’m vegetarian. Have been since March of 2009, and I feel fantastic! My wife has been vegetarian for her whole life. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, she looks amazing. We decided to raise Jacob that way too. He glows like a little cherub, and eats healthier than almost everyone I can think of, but more on that later (he doesn’t even know what a cookie is, but show him strawberries or blueberries or bananas and you better give him some – he has a powerful shriek is all I’m saying. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the brussels sprouts. I’m serious).

When you’re vegetarian you inevitably hear the phrase: “But where do you get your protein?” about a thousand times a week. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but only a little bit. Ok, a lot. But still. To me, the question grates like nails on a chalk board. It’s almost always followed up with (insert sarcastic tone here) “from nuts, beans and tofu?” I then find myself feeling like I have to defend my choice to not eat meat and prove that I eat healthily. 

I’m going to stop here and clarify something. Whether or not you choose to eat meat is your choice and yours alone. I have no judgment one way or the other and this post is not meant to convert anybody to anything. (I’m Jewish, remember? We don’t proselytize…) Besides, I really believe that a plant-based diet works for some people, and not for others. 

Back to the protein. It was irritating tough enough to defend my own choice to not eat meat. It’s even worse when people try to tell us that we’re feeding our son all wrong.

But where do you get your protein?

The short answer is: from a lot of places. For starters, we eat eggs and some dairy. There. Are you happy? Animal protein. (Granted, the eggs we eat are pasture-raised from Vital Farms, and all dairy that we consume is organic and hormone-free – So, back to hippy-land…) We also eat nuts and beans, and yes, tofu (but only sprouted and organic, usually from Trader Joe’s) Two more places: Quorn products, and Field Roast. If you want recipes or ideas, feel free to email me at: raisingjacob@gmail.com. I can also tell you how to most efficiently load a dishwasher. No, really, I can. But what am I driving at here? What’s the point? Well, here it is:

If you don’t have kids and you’re thinking about giving some parenting advice to your friends who do, STOP.

Seriously. It’s so easy to look in from the outside and say what you would do better or differently. It’s a completely different animal (no pun intended) to actually do it. We get it, you love us and want to help out, but all you’re actually doing is telling us that you think we’re wrong and you know what’s best for OUR children. You really don’t. Unless the parent is an alcoholic or drug addict, etc… In that case, you probably do. Either way, you really don’t understand what parenting is until you’re in it. And then it’s too late. Just kidding. (it is too late, but we really do love it)

We’re all guilty of it. We decided before we had Jacob that we would NOT be co-sleeping. Our bed was for us. When he was born, we had two options: Stay awake with a newborn screaming in a bassinet, or get sleep with him in between us. We chose the second. It didn’t last long, and we got him to sleep in his crib after 2 months (thank God!), but we never imagined we would do that. It proved a point to me: You really never know what you’re going to do (or need to do) until you’re in the situation.

“Where does he get his protein?” Seems like a harmless enough question, doesn’t it? My sister, who I love, adore and respect, has asked me this question on more than one occasion. And I always tell her: He gets plenty! And his doctor says he looks – and is – super healthy. He’s in the 95th percentile for height. Yes, he’s huge. He’s also really strong. At 1 year and 4 months, he can do pull-ups on the monkey bars at the park. I’m serious.

But it goes deeper than that. Asking that question means that, on some level, you don’t think I care/think about his nutritional needs. Believe me, nothing can be further from the truth.

What’s at the core of this?

Well, it’s really quite simple. When you become a parent, you instantly start to question every decision you make. “Is this the right thing to do?” “Should we…?” “Shouldn’t we….?” And then (hopefully) you decide to follow your gut and do what you think is best for your child. (Remember? Both kill and die for him, whatever he needs… If you have no idea what I’m talking about, see Birth Day)

That’s all hard enough.

It becomes almost unbearable when other people start to question your decisions too. Don’t worry, we’ve already gone back and forth on it about a thousand times. We decided he’s able to eat broccoli. He likes it, too. 

I guess what I’m trying to say here, is this: Unless you’re asked, please refrain from dispensing your advice to your friends with kids. Trust me. We’ve already thought about what you’re telling us (to the point of insanity), and to quote my dad (yes, I’m referring to my step-dad) “Your kids survive in spite of you” – I’ll just add that they thrive because of you…

As for my son: where does he gets his protein?

Respectfully, that’s none of your business… 

Unless you’re asking because you want to raise a vegetarian baby.

In that case, email me. 



One thought on ““But Where Do You Get Your Protein?”

  1. Yay, you all! I think that none of us are taught to use inquiry in conversations, as in, “Tell me more about what kinds of foods he likes.” “What’s his and your favorite way to cook brussel sprouts?” “Is there anything particularly challenging about social situations and what kinds of solutions have you found?” Since a major part of my job involves interviewing people in a non-leading, non-judgemental manner, I sometimes remember and employ those work skills outside of work. Not always! 😉

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