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If you were to listen to my Mom's side of the story, it would sound like no big deal. She tells the tale of how - for several years - I refused to eat any meat, and my brother wouldn't eat any vegetables. So, she would give me extra helpings of my brother's vegetables and she would give him my meat and everyone was happy.

She is a kind woman, my Mother. I am sure this situation drove her crazy.

Here's what I remember about the years I stopped eating meat: We were at a zoo. And for some reason, there was a food stand fairly close to the petting zoo area. The food stand featured images of chickens on it. I had just pet chickens. Chickens that looked vaguely like the ones on the stand. Suddenly, I didn't want to eat chicken again. (Or at least, not for a long time.)

It's hard for parents to understand the series of events that make a child stop liking a food: A badly positioned food stand, another child a school, a favorite book...none of us know what the trigger might be. For example, I am sure that none of us have ever considered our family pet to be a trigger that changes your diet.

Yes, the studies say the more family pets you have, the more likely you are to be vegetarian later on in life. I've read the info on that link twice and I am still not sure that I understand it. How does a cat or a dog or a hamster lead to rejection of meat? Maybe today's children have a level of empathy I do not. I can tell you that all those years I lived with cats, I never wanted to give up meat. My cats, after all, were also meat eaters.

Maybe this is one of those non-scientific studies that is only meant to make parents think about the choices their families make in the long run. And I can appreciate that: It can be easy to forget that the decisions we make in our child's youth - even small ones like having pets - can have long-term impacts.

But isn't that what most of what parenting is: A string of events that have long-term impacts?

What unusual food habits did you have as a child? Tell me in the comments.

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