Tonight I watched my eldest child receive her high school diploma. It’s a surreal feeling, and I loved every minute. Honoured to address those gathered about my daughter, I told them how proud I was that she was a vegetarian. Being a meat eater myself, it’s important to point out that my pride doesn’t come from a conviction that this is what all people should do. But my reasoning falls into three main categories:
INITIATIVE. Leah made this decision on her own. She did not get this idea from family. If I have any vegetarians in my family, it would be a cousin or uncle with whom I haven’t connected in a while, and am therefore unaware. She was also not responding to peer pressure. She had a fellow graduate in her class who is vegan, but other than that, the student body—and her community—-is made up of hunters, farmers, fishers, and lovers of bacon-wrapped scallops. Now if I was to hate vegetarianism, I’d probably claim that she was brainwashed by the internet. Or watched Bambi too many times. But that would be a silly exercise in pettifogging. The fact is simple. Leah learned about it, read about it, talked about it, thought long and hard about it, and made the decision herself. She is a woman of conviction. That I admire.
PERSISTENCE. I have a sister who doesn’t like ice-cream much, whereas I can’t get enough of it. I tell her she’s crazy every once in awhile, but that’s about it. For Leah, being a vegetarian is a conversation ice-breaker that keeps going long after the ice has been broken, melted, and evaporated. None of us realize we do this, but when we meet someone who’s different from us, particularly if it’s because of a choice they’ve made, we tend to put it at the front of our conversations with them. Also, consider the fact that I hardly ever drink orange juice or eat oranges. No one has ever asked me in 20 years where I get my vitamin C. Yet, in the past 3-4 years Leah’s been asked where she gets her protein on at least a monthly basis. She sometimes will engage and argue, but she’s learning how to handle it, and beautifully at that.
INFLUENCE. Leah has taught me many lessons in her meatless journey. As much as I love meat, I should be more concerned about how animals are treated in the food-making process. I should also think more about what I’m eating and whether or not it’s a wise choice or not. And I have to say that I’d be a fool to think I’m the only one who gets inspired by this wonderful woman. The number of people she will impact will only grow with each passing year.
But my pride in Leah reaches far beyond this, as I’m sure you can imagine. Though I have the apprehension and worry that any parent has in letting their child go, I am pleased at how Leah is entering adulthood and am excited about her heading out on her own. You’re the best my little cheeseburger!
Congratulations Leah—and Ice Age. This is your week.
Best Actress: Angelina Jolie as Tigress in Kung Fu Panda (2008).
Best Actor: John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth in Ice Age (2002). However, I have to say I think Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs may be my favourite cast ensemble in an animated movie. Mr. T, Andy Samberg, Anna Faris, Bill Hader, and James Caan was the perfect mix.
Best Quote: “You know what you are, Flint Lockwood? A shenaniganizer! A tomfool!” — Mr. T as Earl Devereaux in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009).
And as I also quoted in that speech last night, this excerpt from “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol is for Leah:
I don’t quite know
How to say how I feel
Those three words
Are said too much, they’re not enough
I need your grace
To remind me to find my own
If I lay here,
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?
Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden
That’s bursting into life
All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes
They’re all I can see
I don’t know where
Confused about how as well
Just know that these things
Will never change for us at all