“What can I do for you?” the barista asked. Phoebe sighed, glancing down at the children at her side.
“Um, I’ll take a large coffee with soy milk and hazelnut syrup, and the vegetarian vegetable soup. And then they’ll have….” she stuttered, trying to not cringe at the order, “two ham and cheese paninis and two small strawberry smoothies.” Phoebe sighed and paid for the food, thanking the barista before walking over to a table and slumping into a chair.
Once their food came, the small girl Phoebe was babysitting, Lily, asked, “do you want any of my sandwich?” Phoebe shook her head, spooning up more of her soup.
“No thanks. I can’t eat the cheese. Or the ham.”
“Why? Do you have an allergy? Because I’m allergic to peanuts!”
“No, Lily, not an allergy.”
Phoebe didn’t know how to respond. She knew that the parents of these children didn’t want them to get influenced by Phoebe’s vegan lifestyle, but the kids were practically asking to hear more about it! “I don’t eat meat. Or anything from meat products.”
“But, why?” Conner, Lily’s older brother, asked.
“Oh, you know,” Phoebe started, trying to skate over the topic, “environmental reasons, moral reasons, health reasons.” To this, Lily nodded, but Conner was still staring at Phoebe as if she had two heads.
“Health reasons?” he asked, and she nodded. “So do you mean that because Lily and I eat meat we’re not healthy?” he continued, looking confused. Lily looked up from her basket of food, her large brown eyes filling quickly with tears.
“Phoebe? Are Conner and me going to die because we eat meat?” Lily cried, and Conner looked at her as well.