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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?


next: Healthy Thanksgiving Day Alternatives
92 comments so far | Post a comment now
Tara Burner November 19, 2008, 5:01 PM

I’d be mad as all heck. It’d be the same as if the person fed something he was allergic to. And, no not every kid is going to “like” a hot dog. My daughter is not vegetarian (she still eats chicken but no beef, no pork) and if someone did that to her I’d be laying into them big time. Not to mention she’d never go to another play date unless I stayed with her. That was totally disrespectful and could’ve been physically harmful as well. People need to think and be respectful of other parent’s wishes concerning their child when in their care.

Mom of five angels November 19, 2008, 5:14 PM

My friend is a very strict vegetarian. My family is not and honestly I’m not familiar with the practice. I found it helpful to be honest with my friend. We came to the agreement it would be easier if she packed a meal for her son when he came over at mealtimes. It worked out wonderfully. I would pack meals for my children also and we would have a picnic. I’m very sorry that this happened to your son!!! She should have never fed him meat knowing the situation.

pinkrunningshoes November 19, 2008, 5:44 PM

I’m not sure I have all the information. Did you tell her that he was veggie or was her first notice your son saying that he didn’t eat meat, he only ate veggie dogs. As a non-veggie parent I’m not sure how much “I only eat XYZ” would show up on my radar of being “I am a veggie” instead of “picky eater.” (even though it probably should and now, of course, it will)

I don’t think quite fair to compare it to a severe allergy that can cause death, but it is disrespectful nevertheless.

I think that the best way around it is next time there is a play date just say “I must have forgotten to mention it last time, but our family is veggie. It is important to us that Son isn’t fed meat. I brought some food that he can eat so that there’s not a problem if you don’t have any non-meat options.” As a non-veggie mom, who is NOT tuned in to that, I know I would really appreciate the express and direct heads up.

Our general rule with food is we don’t give them certain things at our home or when they’re with us (i.e., lots of sugar, soda, french fries, HFCS…), but we’re not about to start trying to control that everywhere else. HOWEVER, that is really different from being a veggie (for health OR moral purposes) or having a food allergy.

Good luck though, definitely post how it turns out.

Carnivore :O) November 19, 2008, 6:41 PM

Sometimes vegetarian-moms state that they and their families are vegetarians in a way that can be condescending and insulting to us carnivore-moms. Think of a “I wouldn’t serve that to MY child” type of statement. That type of attitude can make us CM’s want to serve your veg-kid a hot dog or 10 just for fun. Mind you I’ve never done that but the thought has crossed my mind :O) It doesn’t sound like you were like that. If you made it clear, and it sounds like you did, that your son does not eat meat then I have to say that was very disrespectful of play-date mom to serve your kid meat. As a non-vegetarian I’m not looking at this as was the risk less because your son is not allergic to meat; I’m looking at it as you set a parameter (condition/rule whatever you want to call it) in order for your son to be allowed over her house and she did not comply even though she said/implied that she would. Allergic or not, no matter what your personal reasons are, he is your son and you get to choose what he eats and how he’s raised. It’s as simple as that. If she cannot respect that than maybe the play-dates need to be at your house from now on, if at all. You should talk to her about it. Not in an aggressive way, but in a way that makes it clear that your family does not eat meat and if she cannot provide the types of foods that your child eats that you can pack him a lunch next time or just have her kid over your house from now on.
Personally, I’m not a vegetarian. But my kids have had friends who are and friends who have food allergies and I’ve never had a problem serving up a vegetarian meal or for that matter a meal that won’t close up their throats when they come over.

Sherri  November 19, 2008, 6:51 PM

OMG! I would be livid too!!
My sister knows how I am against fast food and she purposely took my son to McDonalds last year when she did me the favor of caring for him during my trip to Florida. I will not allow her to care for him again!

It’s too bad that we can not trust society with our viewpoints and beliefs.

Suzanne Eller November 19, 2008, 7:27 PM

Send a lunch next time. It may just be that she doesn’t know. If you don’t follow the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, you might not understand that it’s a big deal. A packed lunch says, “I respect you having my child over to play, and here’s a way I can help since we have dietary restrictions.”

Carnivore November 19, 2008, 8:07 PM

If you choose to pack your kid a lunch when you send him over for a ply-date due to dietary restrictions, I’d like to suggest that you pack enough for both/all the kids to share. You know kids… if one has something then everybody else want it too… Plus it’s a nice gesture.

A November 19, 2008, 8:10 PM

WOW! WOW!

Both my husband and I are vegetarian for a variety of reasons including health.

At first we got a lot of jaw from the parents about it, but at Thanksgiving last year my little brother tried to put meat in my mouth while I was talking. Even my Mom realized the serious issue with the situation.

And yes, if I eat something with animal fat in it by accident I get very ill.

A parent disregarding your wishes is very serious. The only thing I will do differently is express to the parent that WE, as a family unit do not eat meat. This is very serious.

One of my friends has an in-home daycare. When a new child started the parents brought an affidavit of their wishes about what he should eat, be given, and be exposed to. My friend really appreciated it because everything was clear and in the open.

On a side note: my brothers are now advocates for other vegetarian kids in there schools.

Anna- also a veggitarian November 20, 2008, 12:33 AM

all of those who say it is not a big deal, or a life-threatening mistake.
A. the woman went against you -the parents’ wishes.
B. Meat is full of growth hormones and is generally not that healthy as it said to be linked to childhood obesity and early onset of puberty.
C. Do you even know what hot dogs are made of?

I would talk to her- as I can understand how irritated you would be I would recommend waiting a little while to cool off then think about a non-confrontational way to talk to her about it. Obviously I would recommend not having another unsupervised playdate with her again.

Cece November 20, 2008, 1:43 AM

I would be just as ticked as you are. I can’t imagine offering a child meat when I know that the family doesnt eat it. Whether it is for moral or for dietary reasons is not relevant. It is not up to the parents at a play date to “teach” which foods to eat. But, like the others said, perhaps the mom didnt realize that being a vegetarian is a choice, not a punishment. I am not a vegetarian, but some friends and family are. I choose to respect their wishes when I am feeding either them or their children. If I didn’t want to, I just wouldnt invite them over.
Big foohey on the not saying anything to the mom either. I think that as a mom it is more important to keep your child safe than to be polite. When my children are invited over to play at a new place I always ask about guns, supervision etc. When my little one was in K4 she went to a new friends house to play. When they dropped he off she came running in all jazzed because they drove her home and didnt make her wear her seatbelt, let alone put her in a car seat. Her whole life she never thought NOT wearing a seatbelt was an option and it was
kibashed in 10 minutes. Needless to say, I called the mom and she apologized bit time but I never let my daughter play there again.
Back to your issue though. It is not as if you requested that your child only be fed with a gold plate and all food should be prepared in a certain manner. You simply asked that he NOT be served meat. Pretty simple request. Give that kid some pasta or a grilled cheese. geeze.
Back to the mom who said that hot dogs aren’t meat. They are. They are probably not from traditional parts that are eaten off of an animal but they are definately made from parts of an animal.


birdsfly November 20, 2008, 11:23 AM

Though this might not compare to an allergy (which can be argued due to some of the health reasons for becoming a veggie) it could compare to a religious choice. What if the child had said “I can’t eat that because it isn’t kosher.”? Would the mom still have pushed the hot dog on him?

Anonymous November 20, 2008, 11:55 AM

I agree with Tracy. It’s a friggin’ hotdog and it didn’t hurt him. Get over it!

Anonymous November 20, 2008, 12:53 PM

first, it’s not like feeding a kid with a nut allergy nuts. he isn’t allergic to meat, you choose not to feed it…to yourself or him, which is cool….but MAYBE she didn’t have something to feed him…..i don’t know, i can’t believe she did it though! i don’t think that should be the last playdate with that person. next time, pack him a snak and a small lunch if needed and tell her you would appreciate him eating what you packed. and if she gets offended just say “well, i know last time he was here he had a beef hot dog, when i explained that we don’t eat meat, so i assumed that you may not have something to feed him, but if you do have something that he can eat feel free to feed him that instead of what i have packed, thanks” and if she does it again, then no more playdates at her house…have her child to your house instead.

kelly November 20, 2008, 1:02 PM

do you provide non-vegetarian meals for the kids that come over for playdates that do eat meat???? didn’t think so….don’t be so harsh, just pack his lunch next time.

Natasha November 20, 2008, 2:00 PM

I would say something to the Mom but not in an angry manner. Afterall you were obviously not clear with her that your child is not able to eat meat. I find it rude on your part also that you did not inform her so that she would be prepared to make something different. What if she didn’t have anything prepared for a vegetarian. And at the last minute when it is time to eat your child says he is not allowed. All in all I think you both are at fault in one way or another.

Anonymous November 20, 2008, 5:38 PM

I don’t think the child is unable to eat meat; She WON’T LET eat it.

Sheryl  November 20, 2008, 6:35 PM

You said that he doesn’t eat RED meat… so he isn’t a vegetarian. You seem more concerned about being “disrespected” than about any perceived harm to your child. Unfortunately if you don’t relax a little what will most likely happen is that his friends parents will decide that it is too much trouble to have your child at their homes. If the other parents view you as a little nutty, your child will suffer. Before you force your child to stand out from the crowd make sure there is a REALLY good, sound, logical reason.

EH November 20, 2008, 7:55 PM

Did the mother know your child was a vegetarian? Kids often say “I don’t eat this or that” and I have been guilty of the “just try it” response…unless you were clear with the mom, I don’t think she did it out of disrespect.
My household, too is vegetarian, though I think the peanut reaction is a bit extreme of a comparison. We human’s are omnivore’s, after all, so meat would not likely cause a possibly fatal reaction after a hot dog, disgusting as they may be:)

Theresa November 20, 2008, 8:54 PM

I am Vegetarain, and this disgusts me! That is so rude, and it’s gross! She should be ashamed of herself.

Obviusly she does not understand vegetarianism. Perhaps its important to stress to her that it could really make him sick. Explain that its almost like an allergy.

ray November 20, 2008, 10:11 PM

very disrespectful imho. i always ask: 1. if the child likes whatever food, 2. if they’re allowed to eat it.

this covers the child’s preferences and any dietary/religious requirements. how would a kosher family feel if you fed their children a bacon cheeseburger?

very disrespectful and poor parenting frankly.


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