I secretly fed my vegan child meat – my wife found out and wants a divorce

Dear Jane,

My wife and I welcomed our first child together four years ago and raised her vegan from birth, something her mother was adamant that we should do, despite my serious concerns that it could negatively impact her development .

I’ve always been a big carnivore – I love nothing more than a great steak – but my wife decided to switch to a plant-based diet when we first tried to have a baby and she was convinced that this played a role in becoming pregnant.

When our daughter was born, my wife insisted that we raise her vegan too, which I honestly was really worried about, but I agreed because I wanted to give my child’s mother whatever she wanted at the time!

Cut to four years later and my daughter is thriving. She loves to eat, has a big appetite just like her dad, and it’s something I really enjoyed sharing with her.

Maybe a year or so ago I ate a burger for lunch – my wife was away – and my daughter was fascinated by my food.

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I thought it wouldn’t hurt to give her a little taste to see how she handled it, if it gave her a tummy ache or something like that, and she loved it.

Since then I give her small pieces of the meat that I eat when my wife is not around. Which was all great until recently I slipped up and gave her some chicken at a picnic without even thinking about it.

My wife freaked out and started yelling at me that I was “poisoning” our daughter and that I had no idea how she would react to the meat. At that point I had to confess that I had been feeding her meat for some time and that confession led to another furious argument.

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Now my wife is threatening divorce and says she doesn’t know if she can ever trust me with our daughter again. I understand she’s upset that I’ve been hiding this little secret from her, but I can’t help but think she’s overreacting?

International best-selling author offers sage advice on the most burning issues of DailyMail.com readers in her weekly column Dear Jane agony aunt

International best-selling author offers sage advice on the most burning issues of DailyMail.com readers in her weekly column Dear Jane agony aunt

Van, Carnivore Confusion

Dear Carnivore Confusion,

It reminds me of a musical that played for years in New York called “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” You married your wife, who ate meat, and suddenly she stopped and now expects your daughter to do the same.

While I understand your wife going vegan in an attempt to conceive, it seems damn selfish to demand that your daughter follow the same diet, not to say difficult, when she knows her husband will continue to eat meat.

Of course your daughter wants to taste what you eat. All children want to imitate their parents, especially when it comes to forbidden foods.

In fact, the worst thing you can do—unless it’s due to allergies—is ban a food group altogether. Oh stupid new mom I was, I banned sugar for years. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered that every time my kids went to someone’s house, they single-handedly demolished the snack drawer and whatever sugar they could get their hands on.

Honestly, I don’t think you did anything wrong, and I agree that your wife is overreacting. This kind of imposition on other people’s behavior can be a need for control, which often masks fear or anxiety. It’s worth getting to the bottom of that.

First, you need to have an honest conversation. I think it’s worth getting your pediatrician involved. Not least to make sure your daughter is getting all the nutrients she needs, but also to check that your daughter’s behavior of wanting to try meat is normal. I suspect your pediatrician will confirm that there is nothing wrong with your daughter trying meat.

Meeting someone else’s standards of perfection is exhausting and unrealistic. It’s one thing to intend for your daughter to become a vegan, but slips, even if you commit them unknowingly (or knowingly), are bound to happen.

It is much better that you as a family agree to the intention of a vegan diet, acknowledging that your daughter is allowed to try foods she wants. Even meat.

The best nutrition advice I’ve ever heard comes from Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, who says, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’

Dear Jane,

Ten years ago I met a boy. He was handsome, he was charming, and I really thought he was going to be the man who would make all my romantic romance dreams come true.

But slowly things started to change between us. He cheated on me, he always checked and constantly criticized me.

He said I was a horrible person, that I couldn’t cook, couldn’t shower properly, couldn’t smile because my gums were too thick… He once held a knife to my neck because I had to go to my event. He strangled me because of how I boiled an egg. Finally, he beat me, locked me in a room, and left me there for hours without food, water, or even a chance to go to the bathroom.

Finally I found the courage to run. And I’ve never looked back.

But now, ten years later, I still can’t imagine letting anyone else into my life because I’m terrified that I’ll end up in the same situation, or maybe even worse. I haven’t kissed a guy or even been on a date since it happened. I’d love to find a way to move on, but I just don’t know how I’ll ever be able to go past it.

Can you please help me?

From Haunted by the past

Dear haunted by the past,

Dear Jane’s Sunday Service

I once read an interview with Russell Brand in which he expressed his disbelief about his relationship with his wife: “I sometimes feel like a refugee in my home with this woman, this calm, beautiful woman, who, in the most beautiful way possible, is not ‘It I don’t care what I do.

“She’s not interested, in the sweetest way. “Oh, that sounds nice.”

Could we all just let our partners be who they are, instead of trying to change them into who we want them to be. Accepting people on their own terms is one of the hardest challenges, but it brings the greatest gifts.

I’m so sorry you had such an abusive, horrific relationship. I’m also interested in your first comment about your expectations of a relationship – that it should be novel-like romance.

The strongest relationships I know are based on trust and friendship.

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Every time I see a friend get swept off her feet in true romance-novel-whirlwind style, I know there won’t be a happy ending.

Relationships that feel like a dream, like something out of a movie, where you’re charmed and treated like a princess, are actually the most dangerous, because you’re being “bombarded with love.”

Love bombing is a form of psychological and emotional abuse where someone will use excessive attention, flattery and praise to manipulate you into a relationship with them. They invariably become narcissists, abusers, or both, as you have unfortunately discovered.

So now that we’ve got that out of the way, I suggest two things.

First of all, find a therapist so you can deal with the trauma you’ve been living with for a decade. Talking to friends isn’t enough – you need an absolutely safe place and person who can give you the right tools to get you past this, and make sure you don’t have to deal with these people again.

I encourage you to make some new male friends, and once therapy is underway, to go on some dates, this time well aware of the red flags and warning signs.

Slow and steady is how it should be, no flattery, romance and flowers, no matter how good they may feel right now.

I wish you the best.