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Vegging Out 

click to enlarge Theo hangs out with a cow at Ben & Jerry's on Church Street - ALISON NOVAK
  • Alison Novak
  • Theo hangs out with a cow at Ben & Jerry's on Church Street

In September, my then-8-year-old son, Theo, told our family that he wanted to be a vegetarian. His announcement didn't come as a total surprise. For quite a while, my empathetic and sensitive boy had been expressing how sad it made him when animals, from ants to pigs, were hurt or killed. Still, he'd subsisted on a steady diet of cheeseburgers that summer, so I wasn't sure how long his newfound meatless lifestyle would last.

Ten months later, Theo is still a vegetarian. My husband, Jeff, became one too — inspired by Theo —and he's stuck with it as well. That means that even the omnivorous members of our family —me and my 12-year-old-daughter, Mira — eat a lot less meat these days. I've had to totally rethink my go-to weeknight dinner recipes. Suffice it to say, we eat a lot of chickpeas, beans and eggs.

Parents make so many decisions for their kids. It struck me recently that deciding to become a vegetarian was the first time that Theo had made a consequential choice about the way he wants to live his life all by himself. And, for that, I'm proud of him.

When you're a kid growing up on a farm, not many decisions are left up to you. Milking cows, doing farm chores and chopping hay take precedence over friends' birthday parties and sleeping late. Mary Ann Lickteig writes about a multigenerational dairy farm family in Bridport that has been milking cows on the same farm since 1958. The Ouellette family is living proof that, though it is challenging at times, farming introduces kids to hard work and instills pride.

Another thing that instills pride? Hiking the Long Trail — solo. In "One to Watch," read about 17-year-old Zach Rothammer of Woodbury who completed the 272-mile trek, which runs along the spine of the Green Mountains from Massachusetts to Canada, by himself — save for a few nights when he was joined by his parents and younger brother. He came out of the experience with a greater appreciation for his home state, and a whole lot of blisters.

Looking for some fun, new places for your family to explore this summer? Brett Ann Stanciu writes about the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, or VINS, in Quechee. Visitors to the nature center can see wild birds, like owls, eagles and turkey vultures, in enclosures; explore interpretive trails; and pretend to be spiders or chipmunks on an Adventure Playscape. In Destination Recreation, Heather Fitzgerald writes about Raven Ridge, a Nature Conservancy preserve that's home to an array of animals, including bobcats, porcupines, bats and frogs.

For more exciting, educational and yummy Vermont destinations, pick up a copy of our third annual Daytripper summer fun guide at a newsstand near you, or read it online at kidsvt.com. There's still a whole lot of summer fun to be had!

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Craftsbury Common, VT

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