When my 6-year-old son, Ike, proclaimed his vegetarianism a year ago, I wasn’t shocked. At age 3, he shunned pepperoni pizza at a kid’s birthday party, opting instead to house an entire veggie tray. When I told 4-year-old Ike he could choose one thing from our neighborhood toy store, we went home with a smiley-faced stuffed eggplant.
Though the rest of our family loves meat, I find it easy and fun to create meatless meals at home for Ike. When we dine out, however, the poor guy gets the shaft. He could order a vegetarian item off the regular menu, but inevitably it’d be “too spicy” or simply too much for his first grader’s palate. Nine times out of 10, a kids’ menu offers only two vegetarian options: grilled cheese or mac and cheese — a.k.a. cheesy carbs or carby cheese. Fine for some kids, sure, but what about the unicorn child who actually wants to eat his veggies?
I realize kids’ meals aren’t moneymakers for restaurants, and I’m not suggesting chefs devote equal energy to a dish that’s going to end up partially on the floor. But how about tossing some steamed broccoli into that mac? Or adding baby spinach to transform grilled cheese into a veggie melt? A mom — and a veggie-obsessed kid — can dream.