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My Vegetarian Son Was Served Hot Dogs

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And I'm mad as hell!

boy getting hot dog

Guest blogger Gina: Even though I am always very clear that my son does not eat red meat, he was served a beef hot dog on a play date.

When his friend's mom made him the hot dog, my 6-year-old said, "I'm not allowed to eat meat. I only eat veggie dogs."

What was the mom's response? "Just try it ... you'll like it!"

I am thankful he didn't have a reaction ... after all, he's never eaten meat in his life and his little stomach is not used to digesting it.

I haven't said anything to the parents yet and don't know if I should or not. After all, I can't turn back time. But, to me, this is almost as bad as serving a kid with a peanut allergy a PB & J. I always ask parents before a play date if their kids have any dietary restrictions or allergies and am very mindful of that. Why can't other parents show me the same courtesy? Maybe this wasn't a big deal to my son's friend's parents, but it's a VERY big deal to me.

What would you do in my shoes?

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92 comments so far | Post a comment now
phdinparenting November 19, 2008, 3:37 PM

I would mention it. And I would not be sending my child there on another unsupervised play date. That is ridiculous!

Amy November 19, 2008, 3:37 PM

I am so sorry this happened! In my opinion, this is disrespect in the highest order. Disrespectful to you and your son.
I would be wild. I most certainly would say something. Actually, being as upset as *I* would be, it would be a better idea if I wrote them something. That way I could reread and be certain to take the calm fury mode, and not the over-the-top mode, that just feeds their sense of righteousness.

Again, so very sorry this happened.



Jonna November 19, 2008, 3:39 PM

You have every right to be upset. I would talk to the parents immedietly and reiterate the fact that your son doesn’t eat meat and that from now on during play dates it’s not an option.

dizzymum November 19, 2008, 3:40 PM

That’s so out of order. My son has a life-threatening nut allergy, and we constantly have to tell people we’re not just being picky, he seriously can’t eat these foods. But he is still offered foods containing nuts and traces of nuts (even by my parents, who gave him chocolate without checking the label. Luckily he refused to eat it. My same parents used to tell my vegie nephew the sausages they served him were vegetarian!) I think sometimes people just don’t think - or think they know better. I would talk to her and say unless you can be sure she will respect your choices, you won’t be able to go over there again.

LuluMom November 19, 2008, 3:40 PM

“Just try it, you’ll like it”….that says so much. It says:
You are not being served meat because you are a picky eater, perhaps?
I will override a mother’s wishes, I know more than those veggie people.
I don’t care if you are not going to continue with play dates here, for certainly the mother will discontinue them upon hearing this.

Watty November 19, 2008, 3:44 PM

hard call. I understand you totally for being pissed off, but did you give him some other meal option in case the caregiver didn’t have any vegetarian type meals? Don’t know if I’d put it even close to peanut allergies because I’m sure parents from the beginning of any play date would mention it to the parent prior to leaving vs child stating “I’m not supposed to have it” It would have been “I can’t eat that, I’m allergic.” It’s like stating your kids can’t eat candy to a grandparent (what is the first thing that happens with some of them??? Grrr)

I’d mention it, or subtly give them a meal substitute for the next playdate so if they didn’t have it prior, they had it then. THEN if it’d happen again, I’d let them know it isn’t right. (if they got to go back at all)

Sorry this happened

Anonymous November 19, 2008, 3:46 PM

This is very disrespectful and I would not allow my children over at that parent’s home again. My kids are both vegetarians plus we follow a no-processed food diet, no candy, etc. Some of my sibs think I’m a stick in the mud so they make it very clear they’d like to give my kids food I won’t let them have “for fun” whenever they can. IMHO, this is pure power tripping on their part and b/c I clearly can’t trust them, my kids aren’t ever in these sibs’ care.

Small side note - many studies have demonstrated that the human body does not lose the necessary enzymes needed to digest animal products. So your son’s health was probably not seriously in jeopardy. Just for your peace of mind. :)

bloggingmom67 November 19, 2008, 3:46 PM

I would mention it the parent, too, in as nonconfrontational way as possible. “Hey, just so you know, our family doesn’t eat me, so I’d rather you didn’t serve my son meat.”

I have to say you should be very proud of your son for having the poise to explain that he’s a vegetarian. That’s really impressive!

The mom probably sees being a vegetarian as a choice — and therefore not as serioius as an allergy. (I disagree with her, by the way.)

I’m not blaming you, but you might want to tell parents ahead of time that your family doesn’t eat meat, so they can plan on an alternative meal. (Of course, she should have asked you, and she easily could have given your son pb&j.

VeganMom November 19, 2008, 3:52 PM

Oh if that were me, those people would have HELL to pay.
My son is vegan, and I’ve dealt with my husbands family trying to give him milk and whatnot.
I know it’s not the same as a peanut allergy, but I treat it as such. I would, under no circumstance, NEVER EVER feed my child meat!!

Xania November 19, 2008, 4:03 PM

I find it very dis-respectful and I think you have every right to be pissed!!!

Renae | Marketing 4 Realtors November 19, 2008, 4:05 PM

Seriously Gina, if these parents cannot respect your wishes over something as simple as what your child can or cannot eat, what makes you think they’ll respect your wishes over something much more serious? These are the same type of parents who, when nothing is done, thinks it’s perfectly ok for your 5 year old to watch scary movies or your 10 year old to watch “R” rated films.

You should call the mom and explain that your son doesn’t eat meat not because he won’t like it but because it is a decision you an your husband made for him. Then, let her know that if she would like for your son to continue visiting her house for playdates with her son, she will have to abide by your wishes of not giving him any meat. If she has any questions about whether or not he can eat something she’s serving, she’s more than welcome to give you a call. Or, you can always just bring over his meals when he visits her house.

One way or another, she needs to get on the bus, going in the right direction. It really is a matter of your way or no way in this situation. Don’t let it slide by without addressing it because it WILL lead to something else.


Kristine November 19, 2008, 4:13 PM

I guess I’m going to be the dissenting opinion here. I really don’t think you can compare this to a life-threatening food allergy if he is indeed not allergic to red meat.

Did you make it clear to these parents that he doesn’t eat meat? Did you offer to provide food he can eat?

If my son had dietary restrictions and he wasn’t at an age where I could trust him to turn down food he wasn’t able to have, I would send food that he can have with him. I think it’s a lot to ask someone who has your child over for a playdate to make a separate meal for your child.

Kathy November 19, 2008, 4:14 PM

Wow that’s really unfortunate. What if he WAS allergic to red meat? Poor form on playdate mommy!

I hope you’ll let her know how you feel!

momof3 November 19, 2008, 4:29 PM

It’s not really meat anyway - chill out. It wasn’t beer or smokes!

Anonymous November 19, 2008, 4:33 PM

Well it was rude of her to ignore your wishes, however it is no where near the same thing as a life threatening allergy. You should tell the mother your child does not eat meat and offer to provide vegetarian options for him. Not everyone has vegetarian hotdogs or even knows they exist.

Julie D. November 19, 2008, 4:36 PM

I guess that my reaction would put me in the dog house too …

Not a big deal.

After all, he is NOT really allergic to anything. And, let’s face it, he is probably likely to try meat and possibly to decide to eat it anyway at least by the time he is a teenager. I say this as the parent of two teenagers and also who has listened to my kids’ teenage friends talk about their parents …

I’ll go away now … :-)

Kate  November 19, 2008, 4:44 PM

Man, that’s a tough one. I guess I’d consider whether this child is a really important friend for your child. If so, I’d try to forgive and have more of the playdates at your house, so you can better control the food offered. And if your child does go to the other boy’s house, maybe you make a point of bringing lunch for him?

Amelita (Squishy) November 19, 2008, 4:54 PM

I suppose you have to ask yourself the questions of How much does your son like the other friend he had a play date with? Is it likely to happen again? Besides the issue that she gave him the hot dog is he safe there when he is playing? I would be hesitant to say anything if my son had a good friendship with the child. What I would do is wait until the next playdate he is going on and then when you go to drop him off, in a nice way with your son and his friend present say to the other mother look last time he was here he had a hotdog and we don’t eat meat, I am sure it was a misunderstanding but I would really appreciate if it didn’t happen again and I have packed some veggie hotdogs for you just in case you can’t find an alternative for my son. That way you don’t have to worry about him feeling left out when you eat meat.

That way the guidelines are really clear, you have made your point, the boys know what the deal is and a scene is not created, and you have given the other mother the opportunity to give your son an alternative without her having to shop for something separately. She will get the message in a very polite way and the boys friendship doesn’t suffer. If it happens again then I wouldn’t let him go over there again and just have the other child over your house so you can control the situation. Hope that helps?

Tracy November 19, 2008, 4:56 PM

Is your child allergic to red meat? Has your child had the opportunity to CHOOSE to eat red meat or not? Although I agree that the other parent’s call wasn’t a good one if you had already discussed this with her, I don’t know that it should be compared to a life threatening allergy nor do I think that you can honestly expect to be able to completely restrict his diet during the 18 or so years that he’ll be living with you. Honestly this could be the first of many encounters that your son has to deal with regarding his diet.

Holly at Tropic of Mom November 19, 2008, 4:59 PM

I’d definitely have to say something. I’d try to keep it light so as to not come across as though I was attacking the other mom. She is probably not aware of all the reasons why this was wrong and wasn’t trying to be malicious.

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