Many people think vegetarians eat fish. We do not. That would be a pescetarian. So when we go to a Mexican restaurant with nothing but a cheese quesadilla on the menu and we ask the host if something can be made for us and he offers us a plate of shrimp we tell him that fish is not vegetarian. It is not all his fault. I've had several people tell me that they are vegetarian but they eat fish (stepping on some toes here) so they are contributing to the misunderstanding.
One of my favorite things to eat here in Germany is tomatencreamesuppe, tomato cream soup. I always ask if it is vegetarian. I am always told yes. But, by the taste of it, sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. Many people think that if there are no hunks of meat, it is vegetarian, never mind the type of broth or fat in it.
Those are misunderstandings. But, now that Sophia is older, we're running into problems with getting her fed at school. At the day care at Fort Irwin where I left her occasionally, we had to see a doctor, fill out a food allergy action plan form stating what she could not eat and what she could have instead, and appear before a special needs assessment program board of maybe 20 people that had jobs dealing with children on post. I had to make a case for why my child should be vegetarian. She came with me to the meeting. She is thinning out a little now, but she has usually been around the 75th percentile for weight. She is a sturdy, healthy girl. They asked me kind of in a skeptical way what what she had had for lunch. She had spinach and cheese pizza, mixed berries, and a glass of milk for lunch. She eats better than any kid I know. I held her up and said that she was not malnourished. I gave them a lecture on how we get our Omega-3s and they let us go. The kitchen made a special meal, usually a cheese quesadilla or grilled cheese sandwich, whenever Sophia stayed over lunchtime. I'm glad I did not leave her there every day.
I was a little offended that I had to sit in front of a huge panel of people and defend our lifestyle to a bunch of critical people. But, I'm coming to appreciate the accommodation they made for us. We went in to register her here in Germany and their answer was to just serve her what the other children are having and she can just not eat the meat part. That would leave her with rice, an orange, and a glass of milk for lunch on the particular day that we visited. That is okay once in awhile, but if we were to send her to the 4-year-old preschool program everyday on post, she would never get a balanced lunch. We are not allowed to send a lunch with her. We have not pushed the issue with them yet because Sophie will be attending German kindergarten instead.
The policy at the German kindergarten is mostly the same. The children bring their own breakfasts/snacks that they eat around 9 am. I was given a paper that I think details out appropriate items to bring. I will need to translate it a little better before I know for sure. But then the lunches are provided for them. They are not allowed to bring their own lunches. So, I cannot send Sophia to the kindergarten for a full day. What if I were working and needed full-time child care? As it is, I am going to send her in the mornings every day. On Mondays and Wednesdays they have art and music in the afternoon so I will take her back after the lunch/rest period. My German is not good enough to argue with the kindergarten director. I understand it probably has something to do with food allergies or something, but it seems like some kind of accommodation could be made.
Children are fickle in what they eat. I think a misunderstanding when we say that Sophia is vegetarian is that people think she decided, as a lot of children do, to just not eat meat. Maybe we don't make it clear that our whole family has grown up that way and we would be sick should we decide to eat meat.
So, I'm a little frustrated that it is so hard for my family to eat when we are outside of the walls of our own home. But, we are headed to Sardinia for a week. For four days we are staying at an agriturismo that will feed us a vegetarian (vegan if we want it) breakfast and lunch. After that if will just be a few weeks until our things get here and we can comfortably cook at home. We will eat out infrequently, saving our euro for the yummy baked goods that the Germans are great at making.