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The end of the fried chickatarian era
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Years and years ago, my child had decided he was going to be a vegetarian.

Although at the time, he didn't know for sure what that was or what it meant - he had just been traumatized by seeing me stuff a whole chicken that was missing his head.

I am still just thankful he didn't see me yanking that bag of nasty stuff out of the cavity.

This first foray into being a vegetarian ended when his path was crossed with some fried chicken about a week later.

When I told him chicken was not a vegetable, he declared he was a "vegemetanarian that eats fried chicken."

We have tried to go vegetarian as a family before - it lasted about three months and then we caught a whiff of Dairy Queen in the air and suddenly craved a burger.

Amazingly, that burger needed a side of onion rings and a hot fudge sundae too.

Eating those burgers was not something we were proud of.

"I could make a cow a pet," Cole said as we drove past a field full of cows one day.

"I could, too."

And somehow, we decided over a year ago not to eat red meat anymore. I can't remember what prompted it, but we quit.

We don't drink milk either. I still wonder what made that first person to milk a cow decide to give that a try.

We haven't had pork in years. Piggie 1 and Piggie 2 would not approve.

Chicken and turkey were our choices, even if we still felt some remorse.

And then it happened.

One of Cole's chickens in his Harvest Moon game died.

Not only did the game's avatar appear to tell him the sad news, she added, "And Eggy loved you very much."

The next day, another chicken died; the avatar announced how much this chicken loved him, too.

"That's it," he declared, "I can't eat chicken anymore. I can't."

I thought for sure he was meaning just for a short period of time.


He means for good.

"Do I smell turkey bacon?" he asked one morning.

I nodded.

"What else do you have?"

"There's plenty - I hid a few pieces from your dad."

"No, Mama, I told you I am not eating chicken anymore. Turkey is basically their cousin."

"But -"

He shook his head to cut me off. "No, Mama. I'm not eating turkey bacon. If you could fix me something else, please."

So it began.

For a bunch of people who don't eat that much meat or even that much chicken, trying to prepare meals that didn't feature them sure was difficult.

"You sure you don't mind having to change what you cook for me?" he asked.

I don't.

I was a little bit older than him when I decided I was going to be vegetarian many years ago, except I don't think my reasons were as heartfelt.

I am pretty sure I read in Seventeen that Madonna didn't eat anything with a face or a mother and declared, "If it is OK for Madonna, it is OK for me!"

To which, Granny probably expressed her rather heated opinion of Madonna. "You could set your standards higher if you used an ant," she said.

"I'm a vegetarian now and I refuse to eat anything that was birthed!"

Granny rolled her eyes while Mama thought it was a phase.

It was a phase that lasted for 10 years.

I was one of those unhealthy vegetarians though, substituting Snickers bars for meat and thinking a balanced diet was mac and cheese with a side of potatoes.

Granny fussed every time she made a roast and I refused to eat it.

"I'll just eat something else."

"You gonna get rickets!" she cried. "You gotta eat some protein."

"I am not eating flesh."

Mama now echoes Granny's fear of rickets.

"He's gonna need some meat or he'll get rickets."

"Do you even know how rickets are caused?" I asked. I didn't know so I was pretty sure she didn't either.

"No, but he could. You need to make him eat some meat."

Apparently, she never met her grandson.

He is pretty set in his convictions.

If Cole says he's a vegetarian, he's a vegetarian. Me trying to force feed him a slab of meat will not change that.

"You know plants were once alive," she added to her argument. "How do you feel about eating some poor, defenseless plant?"

"Don't argue with her," I whispered to Cole. "She comes from the generation that still thinks it is OK to eat bread."

He's insisting he is never eating fried chicken again.

"What about wings?"

He was pensive for a moment. "No more wings. You can eat them if you want, but I'm not."

The era of the fried chickentarian had come to a close and now, was replaced with a real vegetarian.

I just hope he doesn't go full vegan. I don't think I can cook around that.

Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."