My five year old grandson is very open to a wide variety of foods, since he is growing up in a bicultural family, eats regularly with people from Cambodian/ Chinese/ Thai/ Vietnamese/ Vegetarian/ Vegan and SAD (standard American diet) backgrounds. He is usually eager to try things I make for the first time, even if I do not offer them. What I have found works best is to introduce a new food by having it on the table and on my own plate and something familiar on his. Invariably, he will ask to sample the new item and request second helpings. This scenario works very well for us and has helped him increase his interest in all kinds of food without pressure. It allows him to feel in control and makes eating an adventure!
Breaking Tradition, Causing Distress
Recently, though, I had just discovered the beautiful blog Raw on $10 a Day and fell in love with Lisa’sPad Thai recipe. I made the sauce and let my grandson sample it – he thought it was delicious. But because of my love for this raw dish (and most everything on that particular blog), I broke tradition and created two bowls of the same for lunch. Probably due to his being very, very tired, my little grandson looked at the unknown on his plate and asked, “Can I have something normal, please?”
That sentence has been reverbating in my head for the past few weeks. I know the feeling of wanting something normal. In a world that seems upside down, where corporations are rewarded for exploitation of the environment and those who want to protect it are called eco-terrorists, where animals are tormented and rendered homeless at every turn and those who care about them are considered radical, it is not easy to imagine what true normal would feel like. Sadly, in this world, the ability to detach from reality seems part of the accepted normalcy. But what is normal to a child growing up biracial, bicultural, in love with life, and encountering extreme differences between next door neighbors, both of whom are beloved family members?
Creating the New Normal
Of course, this child was longing for something familiar, something that was safe and did not require any energy adventuring or discovering. Being tired, he just wanted the comfort of the routine, regular, expected food that meant he was where he belonged and all was right with the world. I long for that comfort, that knowledge that all is right with the world, too. But being an adult, it is so apparent to me that all is not right. I have to accept responsibility for changing the world in some way, so that those who abhor exploitation of the natural world will be the new normal, where concern for animal beings and human beings is accepted by all, and where our connection with all forms of life is once again intact and secure. A world that is undergoing stress can be a scary place, but it can also be a place ripe for change. As a vegan, I have chosen a life outside the majority, I have made myself a person that is not considered normal by the bulk of humanity. If I want what I consider a normal world, first I have to help create it. I know that change is coming, but admit that at times, like my grandson, I too grow weary of trying new things and well know that longing: Can I have some normal, please?