We are a family of vegetarians and that includes my children. This is something we feel strongly about and so the choice of bringing up our children as vegetarian until they are old enough to choose for themselves was an easy one for us to make. Something I found slightly harder to decide on was how we would approach our children's birthday parties.
You see, I don't want to be controversial, I don't want to be seen as that strange mother but I also don't feel comfortable paying for animals to be killed to provide food to celebrate our children's birthdays. I'm writing this because I want to clarify a few things and hopefully let other parent's know why we made the decision to have a 100% vegetarian birthday party and what I'm not trying to do!
Firstly - these are things which I am NOT trying to do by having a vegetarian birthday party
I am not trying to force my views onto your children. I promise you, your children probably won't even notice the lack of meat on the party table. I believe it is your right to choose how you bring up your children and if you want your children to eat meat that is fine with me. I won't be distributing PETA leaflets in the party bags or be loudly telling everybody there that the only way to live is to be vegetarian.
I am not trying to be political, different or awkward. All I am doing is letting my daughter have a birthday party where she will be eating the same food as her friends and for once she won't be in the minority. Trust me - this will make my daughter very happy and she is extremely proud (at almost 4) that her birthday party will be vegetarian.
So what will a vegetarian birthday party be like?
Well, I hate to say it but it will be pretty much like a normal birthday party. I'm not going to be serving up strange vegetarian food such as tofu. The menu will look almost exactly the same as any typical four-year-old's birthday party. There will just be a few items missing.
There will be sandwiches, cheese and pineapple, cakes, sweets, crisps and maybe pizza. What there won't be is sausage rolls, ham (or other meat) sandwiches and sweets with gelatine in them. That is all! Just a few small items missing from the list of usual suspects. Nothing controversial, nothing that would upset your children and nothing which would cause any offence to anybody :)
At the end of the day, the food itself is only a small part of the actual birthday party. The most important part is that my daughter gets to have fun playing with all her friends and this is all I really want.
And what about when you invite my children to your parties?
Having been a vegetarian for years now, I'm well used to people panicking at the thought of having to cater for vegetarians and I don't want this to ever cause people to consider not inviting my children to parties. I don't expect you to have to prepare food specifically for them or to go to the ends of the earth to put something on their plates. In fact at most parties there is already plenty of vegetarian food on offer so I rarely even mention it to parents.
My children aren't fussy eaters; they will eat anything and they love party food. Don't worry about the food. Seriously my kids love cheese sandwiches, crisps, cheese and pineapple, pizza (without meat), cakes. At the end of the day it's only one meal and if there isn't anything except cake for them to eat then they will survive on cake alone until after the party (trust me they will happily just sit and eat cake alone!)
If I hadn't told you my children were vegetarian you probably wouldn't even notice. I may subtly switch a couple of plates around on the table so that the cheese sandwiches are nearer to them and the sausage rolls aren't in front of them but I'm not going to make a fuss about doing it.
I even go prepared to parties now with a couple of bags of chocolate buttons in my handbag. This is so I can quickly switch out any sweets that have gelatine in them from the party bags before my children see. That way they won't be disappointed when they open the party bag and can't eat the sweets that are in there.
As vegetarians, we don't deliberately try to make things difficult for you and we really do want to make it as easy as possible for you to be a guest at our party, or to invite us to yours. We won't preach, we won't make a fuss - we will just have lots of birthday fun and if all else fails EAT CAKE!
I live in Durham with my wonderful husband MrB and my beautiful daughter MissB and our son MasterB. We are a family of vegetarians and both our children are being brought up as vegetarian until they are old enough to choose for themselves.
Blogs at: Knees Up Mother Brown