An Open Letter to My Unborn Baby

Dear Baby Fraz,

I can’t believe how close we are to meeting you in person.  Five weeks, the day of the Boston Marathon, assuming you don’t jump the gun.  If you’re like your mother, you’ll probably leave yourself plenty of time, just in case you run into any delays on the way out.  If you’re more like your old man, you’ll get caught up in doing something else and likely show up five to ten minutes late.

A lot of people have been asking how we’re going to handle the vegetarian thing with you, and you’re probably wondering the same thing.  I think it’s kind of cool that you were conceived shortly after your mother and I became vegetarian, so no amount of meat has ever passed into your system.  In that sense, you’re immaculate.  And how neat would it be to know that you lived your life completely “pure,” never consuming the flesh of a single sentient being.

But to raise you with that aim would be completely out of character for me or your mother.  Far deeper than my conviction that one shouldn’t eat animals is my belief that life is about experiencing things for yourself, not accepting on faith alone what others tell you is true or right without question.  For the same reason that I won’t provide you with a default religion to shape your malleable little mind before you’re good at making your own decisions, I won’t forbid you to eat meat.

sascha and linus with giraffe photo 300x225Still, part of my job as a parent is to guide you in the direction I believe is right.  But “guide” is very different from “force.”  I will explain to you, in words you can understand, why in our advanced society I don’t believe we need to hurt animals to feed ourselves.  Your nursery will be decorated with friendly-looking giraffes and ducks (sorry about all the yellow, but that’s the price we all pay for keeping your sex a surprise).  And some of your very best friends, long before you develop strong friendships with human peers, will be our dogs, Linus and Sascha.  Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I envision Linus being extremely gentle around you and Sascha protecting you like you’re her own child.

In that way, I will attempt to instill in you my values without denying you the opportunity to make many of your own choices.  Certainly when you discover Chicken McNuggets at a friend’s house or on TV — we’ll save TV for another conversation — you’ll want to try them, and I won’t deprive you of that experience.  And you won’t be the weird kid on the block who isn’t allowed to eat fast food or has to have a special dinner prepared in order to eat at a friend’s house.  To subject you to that and all that comes with it would not only be unfair; I think it would lead you to store up resentment towards us that would eventually lead to your complete rebellion when you get a little taste of freedom.

Your mother and I won’t be cooking anything at home that has meat in it, even for you, but when you’re old enough to cook I’ll be ecstatic to teach you.  And if at that point you’d like to cook yourself meat, you’re welcome to do so.  If you want pepperoni on your pizza, I’ll probably even let you order that.  (But before you do, I’ll explain to you that lots of pigs are just as smart as Linus and Sascha, and have the same feelings as they do.)

All of this assumes that your mother and I don’t come across information that leads us to change our mind about the healthfulness of a vegetarian diet for children.  As of now, I have no reason to think that you can’t be far healthier on a plant-based diet than you can eating animals.

I can’t wait to meet you.  We’re going to have a lot of fun together.

Love,

Your Dad

P.S. I had a dream two nights ago that I was eating this mind-blowing fresh pasta dish with braised, shredded pork in it.  I used to love this kind of food, but in this dream I was not enjoying it because for some reason I don’t recall, I was pressured to eat it by someone else.  Dreams are weird like this, but don’t worry; this isn’t what vegetarians dream about every night!  But I figured it would make a good first lesson for you: Never compromise your values because of what someone else wants you to do.  It might be easier in the moment, but in the end, damage caused by a lack of self-respect is hard to repair.

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Comments

  1. Aw! Such a sweet letter and I couldn’t agree with your thoughts more. I don’t want to force a certain religion or way of eating on my future child (whenever that happens) either. You guys are going to be fantastic parents. The time is so close- how cool!!
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Wholesome Foods Bakery Gluten-Free Giveaway =-.

  2. This post was great, and such a good thing to have out there for the future to look back on. I think it’s kind of cool that thus far he is “immeatculate”(I had to make the pun). I would also say judging from Mama Pea it sounds like kids don’t get “tempted”, they just go for what they want and think about it later. But I think it’s great that you’ll deal with this so open and freely and use education rather than rules
    .-= Evan Thomas´s last blog ..Balance And Contradiction =-.

  3. What a wonderful letter (I teared up a little bit). How different the world would be if we all grew up in healthy, active households.
    Just a tip- you may want to start hitting up mom-to-mom sales at local schools. My sister found a near new running stroller for $35!

  4. A wise and heartfelt letter – thanks for sharing. Your little guy (girl) is very lucky baby : )
    .-= kara´s last blog ..Runscapes #7 =-.

  5. Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. (And answering our questions about how you were going to bring up Baby Franz)
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..Beautiful Breakfast, Made Easy =-.

  6. You may very well find that excluding animal flesh from your child’s diet makes it so s/he can’t digest it. All three of my children have been raised vegetarian all their lives and vegan since the birth of my youngest child. My oldest once decided to try salmon when he was two years old with very messy results. To this day all three of them will get sick if any animal flesh or broth is hidden in their food — we’ve now learned to ask very pointed questions before eating anything we don’t make in an attempt to reduce these types of incidents. Just an FYI.

    • Vegan Mom, thanks for that reminder. I actually hadn’t considered that, but now that you say it, I remember hearing that a long time ago. We’ll definitely have to use a lot of caution the first time the child is introduced to meat. Thanks.

  7. I love the letter. That’s exactly how I feel about raising our child. I’m hoping our child is currently a zygote in my abdomen right now but we don’t know yet … it’s all so exciting.
    .-= Alison @ finnyfinds´s last blog ..Johnny’s Runnin’ of the Crowd =-.

  8. I especially like your PS.

    And speaking of animals…are yours being taught the difference between their toys and Baby’s toys in this photo? I see amazing self-restraint from Linus!

    I’ve read babies love bright colors so don’t worry about all the yellow. I’m sure Baby Fraz will love the sunny room!

    • m, we do always have to tell Linus ‘no’ about the baby toys, but I think he’s starting to get it. And I bet it will be easier for him once the baby is here and all the toys smell like the baby. Either that, or he’ll hate the baby.

  9. Not sure why I found myself crying by the end of this letter. Such a beautiful post, that hopefully you will both look back on together someday.

    My husband and I are thinking about trying to have kids soon, and we have had many discussions about raising vegetarian children. We plan to do our best, and hope that we can lead by example, not by force or negativity.

    I can’t wait to see your beautiful baby! :)
    .-= Emily M.´s last blog ..The Silver Lining. =-.

  10. Vickie Frazier says:

    Matt, that was wonderful! You make me smile. Mom

  11. You are going to be truly amazing parents! Thanks for sharing this!
    .-= Alisha´s last blog ..New Vegan Hot Spot in Kansas City! =-.

  12. I loved this post. As a longtime vegetarian, and after having given it a lot of thought, this is basically how I want to raise my kids, too (some day very, very far away from now!)

    Cheers to you and your wife for thinking carefully about how you want to raise your child.

  13. What a great letter, Matt! Baby Fraz will be happy to look back on this when he/she is older.
    .-= Nicki´s last blog ..My First =-.

  14. I loved this post!! It’s going to be so much fun to take this journey into Parenthood with you!

    Have a great monday!

  15. Great letter, one day you can look back on this and see how life turned out!

  16. this is so sweet…and it sounds like you’re on the right track to being a great daddy! this makes me excited about hearing how my husband will talk to our first child, and how we’re going to work to raise him/her. :)

  17. Stumbled upon your site looking for a muffaletta no meat recipe. I love love love this letter and your site.

    So sweet! Thank you.

  18. Aww! Congrats. I’ve got 25 more weeks to go before I meet my little one but I’m already thinking about things like this. Of course he/she will be living off of milk the first while but I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll feed my baby meat, at least not while it’s still a baby. It seems like I won’t until he/she makes that decision. Until then I’ll just feed it the ever loving veggies and fruit.

    Congrats again. I’m so happy for you both:)

  19. Awww what a sweet letter to your baby. I can’t wait to read about you and Erin’s journey raising your little one as vegetarians. I was quite interested in the comment above from vegan mom about how her kids can’t tolerate meal now when they try it. I wouldn’t have even considered that.

  20. Matt, this was an incredibly sweet touching letter. You and Erin are going to make wonderful parents, and I couldn’t agree more with your wonderfully open stance on letting your child be who he (or she!) is.

    Can’t wait to see the little bundle of joy – you and Erin take care these last couple weeks!
    .-= Holly´s last blog ..be a winner. =-.

    • Thank you, Holly! I really hope we’re good parents. I guess you never know until you try!

      These last few weeks will be exciting, and probably trying (more for Erin than for me). But she’s doing really well up to this point, and if it stays this easy I’ll consider us pretty lucky.

  21. Today is my 9 month anniversary of becoming a vegan. I knew immediately upon making this lifestyle choice that I would raise my children (someday) the same way. Then I read your post. and it makes sense. I really like your choice to not force your views on your child- just like I planned on NOT doing with religion, i now see the same holds true for other things as well.

    Thanks!

  22. As someone who has never eaten red meat, it’s one of the best gifts my parents could have ever given me.

    Congratulations on your new baby boy. Good luck with everything.

    P.S. Your website rocks.

  23. I love where you say you’ll explain that pigs are just like dogs. So great!

    I’m not a mom, but all of my mommy friends have read this book and love it: http://www.superbabyfood.com. The author is vegetarian, but even my non-veg friends love the book.

    And here’s an adorable vegetarian book for kids: http://wedonteatanimals.com/
    .-= Angie´s last blog ..Meatless Monday #33: Veggie Stir-Fry with Quinoa =-.

    • Thanks Angie! I’d never heard of either book. We only have one about making good baby food so far. And We Don’t Eat Animals looks cute, and actually might help with the message. Thanks again.

  24. I´ve spent so much time thinking about this “vegetarianism & baby thing”, because me and my boyfriend don´t eat meat as well (+ we both love running A LOT .-) and I must say that my every single thought was in the exactly same direction as yours .-) So I hope it will work! .-)

  25. A vegetarian of 10 years, my oldest (8) has been veggie since conception and my baby (11 months) as well — she’ll be breastfeeding hopefully until she’s about two (the BEST thing you can do for your infant, btw).

    I’ve always made it clear to my son that as his guide I must make the most health conscious choices for him and I have taught him a lot along the way. He’s in third grade now and has never encountered another vegetarian in school but remains loyal to his convictions and even has some reasons for being veggie that are completely his own.

    He’s in the 75th percentile for height and weight too — not too bad for someone who has never really eaten non-organic food. :)

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