After I posted about my family ordering "meatless" options at dinner a
few nights ago on Instagram, many people have asked why we are vegetarian.
I guess I haven't ever talked about that- I mean, a vegetarian rancher?
Who do we think we are?
(I should clarify: our little family now eats dairy and salmon).
Here's the story:
To make a long story short, Mr. Nielson tried out vegetarianism in
high school in 1997 and really liked how he felt.
He felt healthier and stronger,
and what was even better, he gained weight, which he really wanted.
When I met Mr. Nielson in 2000, he was still very vegetarian,
and I was not vegetarian.
I ate meat 1-2 times weekly, including our family's traditional Sunday postroast.
Mr. Nielson challenged me to eat vegetarian with him and
I did, and then I miraculously lost weight.
Additionally, I also felt very healthy and stronger.
I also had more energy which I loved, and so I never looked back-
(unless you count that one time when I was pregnant with Claire
and my dad made corned beef for St. Patrick's Day. Or that other time
I ate a turkey sandwich at a park in New Jersey when I was pregnant with Oliver.
Both times I sorely regretted it- if you know what I mean).
We are not meat sticklers; I don't care who eats meat- including my children.
If the Little Nies are at friends' houses for a meal or choose to go out
with friends to dinner, they are free to choose
what they eat- no judgment from Christian or me.
I will say my girls have never eaten meat- it doesn't appeal to them, and I suspect
that my boys probably eat meat a couple times a month.
And Lottie has enjoyed a chicken nugget once in and while when
she is with Grandma and Grandpa,
but we usually regret that choice later (if you know what I mean).
So when we go out as a family, we try and look for places that
offer vegetarian dishes or find menus that can be flexible
to accommodate non-meat eaters, and it's usually easy to find.
Now you are wondering how Mr. Nielson can be a rancher and not eat meat.
Mr. Nielson loves his cattle. He loves to feed them, and he loves to take care of them.
For example, he mixes up the best feed for them;
two different types of hay, dried distillers grain, molasses, and minerals.
And he mixes this batch up for them twice a day for two months out of the year.
It smells so good that sometimes I am tempted to eat it.
When the cattle aren't eating the feed,
they go to pasture, eating native grasses and forage.
The bottom line is that these cows are lucky, and so will the
people who will one day eat them.
It just won't be us.
Unless we are in a winter or famine.
Thankfully we have yet to see that.