Saturday, May 03, 2008

Dead Meat


Does anyone else remember the expression, “You are dead meat!” I remember saying this, probably back in elementary school and most likely to one of my little brothers. I don’t think I ever thought about what a horrible thing it was to say. I must not have been a very thoughtful child. Or perhaps I forget my own thoughtfulness.

Luke, though, certainly understands the ramifications of such a statement, for dead meat has been one of his moral conundrums since he was a wee little guy. At age two, Luke became a vegetarian. I don’t now remember how the conversation came about, but the inevitable day came when Luke asked about meat, and learned that “beef” was really a sneaky way of saying “cow,” and so on and so forth. I suspect that most children do not have this conversation with their parents at age two. Henry, meat lover that he is, has never thought to ask where it comes from. But while Henry is physically precocious, Luke is—hmm, how shall I characterize this particular trait?—philosophically precocious.

So, after learning about the origins of meat at age two, Luke became a vegetarian. Granted, he didn’t eat a lot of meat to begin with. He liked hot dogs at the time, though. Craig told me I should just go ahead and let Luke eat hot dogs, that Luke wouldn’t know the difference. That seemed mean to me, though, and so when Luke would ask to buy hot dogs at the store, I would tell him what they contained and ask if he would prefer the ones made of soybeans, which he did. We never really found a brand of soy dogs that we liked, but we both agreed that Trader Joe’s soy corndogs were pretty tasty.

Complicating Luke’s understanding of meat is the fact that we are from Alaska, where many people hunt and fish. His grandpa and his daddy do. I have never personally shot an animal, but I have butchered a moose. I tell Luke that daddy and grandpa only shoot animals they want to eat, and that they feel thankful that the animal gave its life so that we could eat.

Lately, Luke has been more concerned about appearing “cool” to his peers, and more preoccupied with things that I believe he is learning from his classmates. Lately, he has wanted to “play sports.” He asked me to buy him a soccer shirt, and he is now enrolled in a basketball class at our local community center. A few days ago, when one of his friends was over at our house, we were talking about favorite foods. I mentioned something about Luke not eating meat.

“I eat meat,” said Luke. “Tons of meat.”

I can only now think that Luke was trying to seem cool, but I didn’t pick up on this at the time.

“No you don’t, Luke. You only eat beans and nuts and cheese,” I said.

“Mom, I eat tons of meat in my room!” Luke said emphatically.

“Oh. What sorts?” I asked.

“I eat cow and pig and moose and caribou,” he said.

But I can’t think that Luke’s perception of meat has really changed all that much. Yesterday morning, he illustrated and dictated the words for a new page in the Star Wars Book he was writing:

Inside Jaba the Hut’s palace, the unlucky droids saw the slug-like creature, Jaba. “Greetings,” he said in a heavy voice. His minions danced for him while he ate dead meat.

8 comments:

Molly Sabourin said...

Oh my, Luke's book sounds very intriguing! What a mind your philosophically brilliant young son has!

Beck said...

Hee, that list of meat he eats in his room was pretty funny.
The Girl has announced several times that she's a vegetarian, which has been met with an unyeilding message that she can be one as soon as she's paying her own grocery bills.

Nancy said...

I have to admire the boy; my girls will instantly act vegetarian at the sight of a plate of fish or a steak, but put them in front of processed chicken fingers, and you'd never know that they'd ever counted the toes on their own pets.

I also *love* that Luke uses the word minion. Even if the term "dead meat" is redundant - well, maybe not always. I suspect Jaba the Hut has occasionally eaten his meat while it was still alive. :)

Nancy said...

I have to admire the boy; my girls will instantly act vegetarian at the sight of a plate of fish or a steak, but put them in front of processed chicken fingers, and you'd never know that they'd ever counted the toes on their own pets.

I also *love* that Luke uses the word minion. Even if the term "dead meat" is redundant - well, maybe not always. I suspect Jaba the Hut has occasionally eaten his meat while it was still alive. :)

Sarah said...

Hi Ser,

I've been reading your blog for a while now...and this posting is a prime example of why...you are such a great mum with a great family, your blog always makes me smile - keep on writing!

Sarah :)

marji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
marji said...

Max would shriek if he saw that photo! He calls himself a crunchetarian (crunchatarian?). No meat, preferably things that are salty and deep fried such as tortilla chips, not carrots or celery!

so yung said...

From this post and a previous post (the version of the family-farm pick-up not published LM), I'm gathering Luke does not like others speaking for him in front of his friends (I'll try to keep this in mind if I'm ever around his friends). I also wonder at the simple connection that two of our god-childrend have made between meat and animals. Both of our godchildren that are vegetarians became so at an early age - I think Bailey was around 3 when she continued on the vegetarian path when her parents decided that eating meat was okay afterall. It's such a simple connection, and I wish I could keep it in mind as steadfastly as Luke and Bailey do.

I can't wait to kiss and hug those boys - meat-eater and non-meat eater alike!