Today my grandmother, whom I'm proud to have made a great-grandmother, turns 90 years of age! She's been a great part of my life as growing up we lived less than 5 miles apart, which allowed us to see each other nearly every day. My grandmother ran a daycare center out of her home, and the majority of the time, she was committed to serving her "kids" vegetarian meals (a shock of all shocks in southern Louisiana where a Cajun is known to "eat anything that doesn't eat them first").
Now that I run my own household and pay attention to my food budget, I realize how much more expensive it was for her to buy "substitution meats" instead of the real thing. But, what's really amazing is how it impacted the kids--all now in their 20s and 30s. One mom tells the story that when her daughter wanted chicken noodle soup for dinner, she thought she had hit the jackpot for an easy dinner and cracked open a can of Campbell's. To her shock, the child refused to eat it because it was nothing like Mawmaw made. Come to find out, it was my mom's recipe, and the kids were spoiled.
As the kids aged and didn't need to stay with Mawmaw any more, they still would exchange Christmas presents. Many times, the presents were a can of Worthington Veja-Links. In fact, at "the other Mandi's" wedding shower, my grandmother delivered a paper bag with a single can of Veja-Links in it and told her it was from my grandfather. These children who were raised to eat all kinds of meat thought Veja-Links were the greatest thing in the world and were known to eat the entire can in one sitting. Now, of course, doctor's would shun such activities for the high sodium content, but the stories always made Mawmaw feel good.
So, in case you ever complained that becoming a vegetarian would be too tough on your kids, I site these examples. Cook it right, and the kids' reactions just might surprise you.
Happy Birthday, Mawmaw Breaux! I love you so much.