Journeying towards ethical eating while getting along with others - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 91 Old 01-09-2013, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I feel a need to share about some issues we’re dealing with in order to get feedback regarding our relationships with others.

 

We got to enjoy about a year of experience with raising chickens and during that time, we all, especially our now 12yo dd, learned a lot about what beautiful and intelligent creatures these animals really are, each with his or her own unique personality. Dd1 no longer eats chickens and is, of course, very upset by what we have learned about their inhumane treatment in many agricultural settings, and also by the fact that chickens are not even protected by animal rights laws.

 

As for dh and me, we’ve come to a more general realization that everything has a consciousness, and we realize that the logical and humane response to this is to either become vegan or only consume animals/animal products that have been raised/produced humanely. However, we are a couple that started our family with pretty much the “standard American” view of eating,  and we are now also severely economically challenged and feel kind of stuck with the need, for now, to buy most of our food at places like Aldi’s.

 

For us, right now, it’s a matter of using our very limited budget in a balanced way – on the one hand, making sure we have enough of the food our daughters already like (and their preferences have been greatly influenced by dh’s and my previous habits) so that they won’t ever be hungry, and on the other hand, moving toward a more natural, ethical way of eating and continuing to introduce a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. They do enjoy some fruits and vegetables a lot, and always have, but I am working to instill, in our whole family, a greater appreciation for natural foods as well as a respect for the whole circle of life.

 

Our 12yo, in contrast, is quite naturally focused specifically on the chickens with whom she developed loving relationships and whom she called by name. She has gradually come to grips with the fact that most of the world is going to keep on eating chickens, but she still becomes very upset when she hears people speak about them in an uncaring way.

 

Dh and I, as adults, realize that everyone is in a different place on his or her journey, and we can also remember a time when we had our own very ignorant and disrespectful attitudes toward the sanctity of animal life. This helps us to avoid feeling too upset or judgmental regarding the (in our opinion) ignorant attitudes of some other people. We also don’t feel at all inclined to confront or argue with other people about this topic, knowing that everyone has to come to their own realizations in their own time.

 

 It looks like I will need to finish my story in a second post, because I'm not able to add the rest in this post.


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#2 of 91 Old 01-09-2013, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So sometimes I feel caught between a rock and a hard place, feeling a need to advocate for my daughter and at the same time, feeling a need to help her deal with and accept real people just as they are. For example, the other night, we attended our first meeting with a group that we think we will be joining. Dd liked one of the other girls in the group and I think she wants to go back.

 

At the same time, she left this meeting very upset. It was a more casual planning meeting, and not a typical one, because the group is just getting started. And towards the end, one of the moms who is also a leader started animatedly sharing about her recent experience with slaughtering chickens for the first time. She got rather graphic, and toward the end of the story, expressed the view that you don’t need to treat chickens humanely because they are chickens.

 

My dd was conversing with her new friend and I was hoping that she hadn’t been paying attention to this woman’s story – but I realized that she had been when she told the woman that she was offended, and told her, “You treat chickens humanely because they have a consciousness” (I was, by the way, very proud of the way that dd expressed her feelings and later told her so).

 

The woman insisted that they don’t have any consciousness and asked dd, “Are you vegan?” – and I felt compelled to tell her that we’re not vegan because we’re very economically challenged (I realize that just being economically challenged doesn’t prevent a family from being vegan or from eating ethically, but, for people who started raising their kids “standard American,” we have found that having a low income can really make it challenging to make the shift and still make sure our kids are getting enough to eat). I also explained how much dd had bonded with her chickens when we had them.

 

This woman basically expressed the attitude that if you’re not going to be vegan, you need to be aware of and accept where your food is coming from. I can see her point when it comes to adults, but this seems like an unfair burden to place on children. Anyhow, we left the meeting pretty quickly, and the woman seemed to realize as we were headed out the door that she’d really upset my daughter and told me, “I hope you’ll be back!” I just said “Thanks,” and headed on out to be there for dd.

 

When we got to the car, dd said something like, “I’d like to see her running around with her head cut off, bleeding everywhere, and see how funny she thinks it is then!”

 

Now that I realize dd is pretty interested in staying in the group, but is still also pretty upset with this woman, who may very well end up being the leader of dd’s age group, I feel a need for advice about how to help dd navigate this issue, and how to navigate it myself.


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#3 of 91 Old 01-09-2013, 12:46 PM
 
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Well, I am a vegetarian and I am trying to limit our dairy as 3 our of the 4 of us have issues with dairy. I also shop at Aldi's. They have great prices on produce (although not organic like I would prefer) and offer a wide variety of fruits & veggies IMO. Twice recently for dinner, I made cut up raw veggies with a guacamole dip and baked potatoes.  That was it. Usually adding a protein or fat source, such as guacamole, nut butter, etc to some of your fruits and veggies throughout the day will help with keeping full and making sure the family is getting enough of what they need. My DH eats the most, and my two kids snack frequently on healthy foods. I have cut down costs of grocery shopping by not buying a lot of sweets and junk food, making my own cookies or easy foods like banana breads, muffins, etc which can be loaded with added protein to keep full, and not buying pop or juice. But, my kids have eaten like this from the beginning. They have never had a typical American diet, so I understand it may be harder for your kids. I meal plan and shop frequently, as we use up our fresh produce pretty quickly.

 

But vegetarian or even vegan meals, can be just as cheap if not cheaper than meals with meat and just as hardy. For example, I make a great vegetarian chili which even people outside my home seem to like, and its rather inexpensive. Tonight I'm making pepper, onion, and portabella fajitas with spanish rice & beans. I also have sweet potato and carmelized onion stuffed shells on the menu this week. All three of those meals are vegan and cheap.

 

I think its important for your kids to know why you are choosing to change your eating habits, and I think your daughter is on the right track. She understands that animals have a consciousness and do feel pain. Personally I think it was rude of that women to talk to your daughter like that. Your daughter does understand where her food comes from, and she's choosing to not eat some foods because of it. I have many people telling me my kids (who are only 3.5 & 2yrs) will one day eat meat, that I can't stop them. And I know I very well cannot. But I hope to instill in them the reason why we do not eat meat and hope they understand and believe those reasons enough to hopefully not eat meat as they get older. Or at least try to eat family farm raised, vegetarian fed, or grass fed, or humanely treated meat. But I think you're already on the right track with your kids.

 

Also, you don't have to explain to people that you don't have enough money to be vegan or vegetarian. They don't need to know that. Just tell them you are starting to change your diet to reflect your new beliefs, but may have some speed bumps along the way. Also, look up the book / website Vegan on $4 a Day. It can be done. 


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#4 of 91 Old 01-09-2013, 12:53 PM
 
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Maybe your DD would be able to say something if that topic or a similar one came up again.  Like, "Let's not talk about that please.  I have very different views on that subject than you do."  If it's not a group that has anything to do with farming, diets, or anything where a dying chicken story would come up again, then maybe it will be easy. 

 

If that person or other group members didn't at least make an attempt to avoid topics that upset your DD then I think that group is not for her/ you all. 

 

Also, I totally agree that it's not that woman's place to say what your DD should be comfortable with or not.  It can be a complicated ethical/cultural/practical issue for some people.  And even if someone is comfortable with where their food comes from, that doesn't mean that they are comfortable with graphic descriptions or humor attached to the subject. 

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#5 of 91 Old 01-09-2013, 01:30 PM
 
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I think that one of the things I've found during my time being vegetarian is that a lot of people can be reactive to learning you've made that choice for yourself - and feel defensive, or curious, and can't always relate to your feelings/reasons.  Why should they?  This is my own path - not theirs.  That's come to be my stance on it.  I can only speak for myself, I don't speak about vegetarianism in a manner with others where I need to convince them I'm right about it (unless they've initiated that kind of discussion).  I don't particularly like arguments, so I don't get into debates either. 

 

 

From my POV, the interaction at this event seemed a little rude (at least, coming at your dd with "are you vegan" in a 'if you aren't then who cares?' way).  And that's too bad.  I'm quite impressed with how you describe your dd bringing it up to this woman (who shouldn't be too surprised such a story would upset someone, really).  I know several people who raise chickens for slaughter and wouldn't come across so callously about it as this woman seems to have, and they also care for their chickens in other great and profound ways, so really there's a whole range of views on slaughtering chickens out there and people who do it.  And others who don't and won't slaughter chickens too.  (It being part of my teen journey to becoming vegetarian, realizing that I wouldn't want to actually kill a chicken or any other animal and didn't currently have any need to do so, I'd rather those animals live and I felt obligated to work to cease eating meat in my own life). 

 

I find salr's response above a great way to handle something, in the future.

 

Even with this difference in opinion, there can still be valuable interests this woman may have in common with your dd as as they get to know each other better.  That usually also leads to being respectful of each other's differences in opinions in more respectful ways than this incident.  Unless she has some kind of mission to push forward about this issue ('that chickens don't have a consciousness' I suppose? or that the only answer to believing in animal rights of any kind is in being vegan?) the chances that they'll be able to do other things together are pretty decent, I'd hope.

There are just so many places to be at between being vegan or having little respect for chickens.  It's okay to be there yourselves.  

You can be eating them and have thankfulness and understanding for their life.  That can be just as profound as 'being vegan'.  

 

Good luck in figuring out the best way to help your dd with this right now.       

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#6 of 91 Old 01-09-2013, 01:42 PM
 
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By the way, I also think your DD handled it in an awesome manner. My recommendation for what to say was for this specific woman, or if it seemed appropriate for any other future use, not because I thought your DD's response needed improvement.  It sounded perfect to me!

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#7 of 91 Old 01-09-2013, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I really appreciate all of your responses and think you are all spot on! Greenlea, thank you so much for the website/book recommendation! I agree that it's not that a vegan diet, or any other ethical diet for that matter, is anymore expensive than the "standard American diet," and it can actually be much cheaper. For us, a big part of the challenge is preparing foods that our dds will actually like enough to eat (after developing such a strong taste for the unhealthy processed stuff, which tends to be very expensive when you buy the healthy and ethical version of it), and also becoming more disciplined ourselves about taking more time to prepare things from scratch rather than resorting so much to meals from a box.

 

We also do go through our fresh produce really quickly and often have to do without fresh stuff for a few days while waiting for my next check or our next monthly allotment of food stamps. And when we're trying so hard to make things stretch, it can feel kind of risky to buy foods that our daughters may refuse to eat, because then we've spent the money and we can't get it back to buy them things they will eat.

 

But I agree that it's not necessary to go into all this with anyone. Really, saying that people who aren't 100% vegan -- or that non-vegans who aren't managing to eat nothing but humanely-raised meats and humanely-produced dairy products -- don't have any right to be upset about cruelty towards animals, or about people scoffing about animal rights, is a lot like saying that nobody has the right to be upset about global warming because virtually everyone is contributing to it in some way.

 

I wish that I had established myself on this journey before starting my family, but I still feel really good about what we are learning now and about the love we are developing toward all of life. I really like what Greenlea said about just telling anyone who asks that we're working to bring our diet into alignment with our beliefs. This is true, but I personally don't think I'm working hard enough yet. I hope this whole interaction can be a catalyst for me and help me move forward at a faster rate.


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#8 of 91 Old 01-09-2013, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I also like salr's idea of how to respond if things like this come up in the future. And if the speaker tries the angle of "Well, are you vegetarian?" just resonding with Greenlea's suggestion.


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#9 of 91 Old 01-09-2013, 04:23 PM
 
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On the food end of the spectrum, it may be helpful to add either in this post, or in the Food forum, some details about what your family currently eats, what your daughters like best, etc.  We may be able to brainstorm some good, less expensive substitutes than the natural-but-prepared ones that are so expensive. 

 

It IS such a complicated issue, and I think that it's really a matter of choosing personal battles.  I was a vegetarian for 10+ years, primarily for environmental/ethical treatment reasons.  I was also heavily into activism and politics and all sorts of other intense issues.  At some point it became to much for me and I almost started to feel like I couldn't live in this world anymore.  No matter what you stand for and act on, there are a million other things to which you are turning a blind eye.  It was SO hard to accept this in myself, but it was extremely helpful for my relationship to other people.  It helped me stop being so angry at people who didn't care about the chickens, the starving children, the ozone layer, in the life-altering way that I did.  It may be something to talk about with your daughter, because right now she is seeing this one issue and it is filling her head and she's choosing to do something about it.  Other people are making other choices and filling their heads and hearts with that stuff instead.  I feel for her.  In some ways, ignorance really is bliss. 

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#10 of 91 Old 01-09-2013, 09:43 PM
 
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Aside from the issue of ethical eating (I am somewhere midway on this spectrum), I think that an important value an obviously philosophically advanced 11 year old can learn is tolerance. Throughout her life, other people will have opinions and lifestyles different than hers. Diversity enriches all of us, and the woman is entitled to her opinions. I agree she was pretty rude to challenge a young child, and if it came up again, I would probably ask her to avoid the subject as it is pretty volatile to DD. But learning to politely feel differently than others is a valuable skill. I am impressed at how well she handled it at the meeting, and it sounds like she is well on her way to defending her own choices.
 

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#11 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 01:24 AM
 
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I think it is great that your daughter spoke up in defense of her values. That said--I'm an evil chicken killer and I can live with that. (The chickens live well first and aren't tortured--I promise.)

 

In a similar situation I would coach my daughter towards saying, "I have very different values on this topic--can we please change the subject?" I think that kids have every right in the world to ask for topics to change in social situations, just like grown ups. I'm sorry the woman responded the way she did. 

 

Talking about food is such a hard thing to do. It feels like no matter how you do it someone is going to be mad at you.


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#12 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 07:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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newmamalizzy, I agree that it will be really good for me to learn how to prepare some natural and ethical substitutes for some things my girls like.

 

I've been thinking it over and I've realized that our main unethical staple foods are milk, eggs (though we do sometimes pay extra and buy the free range eggs), cheese, butter, mayonnaise, and ranch dressing. We go through large amounts of these items so I'm sure we couldn't afford to keep buying them, in the natural and ethical form, at our current rate of consumption. The girls do enjoy raw vegetables and salads, but they pretty much always want ranch with them. They also enjoy some cooked vegetables -- but again, always with butter and preferably also some cheese.

 

They love pasta covered with just plain spaghetti sauce, no meat or cheese -- but with butter melted into it. I know that many people use olive oil instead of butter in pasta, so maybe we can gradually transition into doing that by using less and less butter and more and more olive oil.

 

We have just purchased a wok and are waiting for it to arrive, and I am hoping that we can all start enjoying stir-fried vegetables cooked in oil instead of butter. Dh and I already enjoy these. Of course, I know that there are also cheap butter substitutes that don't involve any unethical treatment of animals; we had just gotten into the habit, a few years back, of buying real butter after I learned about the harmful stuff in those substitutes.

 

And we use lots and lots and lots of milk. The girls love cereal, and also pancakes. Dd1 also drinks at least 2 or 3 glasses of it per day; dd2 won't always drink it but she does consume a lot of it in her cereal. Sometimes she has 3 or 4 bowls of cereal in a day, and she never wants to eat it dry.

 

I think both girls would eat a large amount of raw vegetables daily, if we could afford to buy enough for them to have some every day. Right now, I'd say that they have a good-sized raw veggie snack about every other day or at least twice a week. I also think that it wouldn't be too hard for the girls and me to make meat a much smaller part of our diet, and only buy as much humanely raised meat as we could afford. It would be much harder for dh, who I think feels like it's not really a meal without meat.

 

We do all like beans -- but we always flavor them with some sort of meat fat or butter. I've heard that lots of vegans make soup stock and have it on hand to provide that extra something that makes beans or soups taste so much better, so this is probably something I need to start doing, too.

 

As you can see, I'm thinking we probably won't become pure vegans at this time -- but, rather, I want to move into an ethical use of foods coming from animals. For us, this will probalby need to mean transitioning into a largely vegan diet, mainly due to the much higher cost of milk coming from humanely-raised cows -- which is definitely worth it, but just difficult to contemplate.

 

I know, for example, that cooked broccoli provides as much calcium as an equal amount of milk -- but the trick is being able to buy that amount of broccoli. Also my older daughter will only eat it raw, not cooked. I think cooked greens are also a good source, and greens are something we haven't done so often. But dh and I really like them, and maybe they will grow on the girls, too.


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#13 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 07:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, and I definitely agree that everyone has something different that their heart is focused on, and that tolerance is such an important value for everyone to learn. At the same time, I can see how hard it is for dd, now that she has such a love for chickens, to live in a culture where so many others seem to just see them as legs, breasts, and thighs. I suppose it would be like an American living in a culture where people look at cats and dogs that way, kind of like in some movie I saw where a woman picked out a puppy she saw in a shop, thinking she was getting a new pet, and then received it all chopped up into pieces in a bag.

 

But we do eat meat and live in a meat-eating culture. I'm just starting to really appreciate the cultures that apologize to the animal for killing it, and thank it for nourishing their body. And I think we can grow into that kind of culture, too. And I realize that we can have more of an impact for good on our culture when we love and accept people just as they are, than we can if we hate and judge them.


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#14 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 08:47 AM
 
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Ah, what struck me reading this is  it seemed to echo the usual debate; Can we afford to raise and slaughter animals ethically? Well no and that's why we have factory farms. People don't want to make the trade off and sacrifices. Some think/ or legitimately can't make the trade off nutrition and money wise. I don't think you should get hung up too much on that.

I haven't read too much of everyone else's responses (just skimmed quickly).  

Anyway I don't know if I just read too quickly but it kind of struck me is that you seem stuck in the mindset that once your tastes for certain kinds of food develops you can never retrain you taste buds. Well, everyone whose every stuck it out on a diet will tell you that with some determination and persistence you can. Beans, lentils and legumes are ethical, healthy and cheap but I understand that changing your diet can often take some skill like relearning to cook foods other then S.A.D fare which is a big part of changing what I call your food culture or the role food plays in your lifestyle the downside is it requires time and a certain investment of patience and frustration and money. Not something you can risk but slowly over time I think its something that needs to change to be successful.

Some people like me are lucky enough to have a choice. I either eat free range eggs or I don't eat eggs. I'll eat something ethical instead like . I have a huge list on the fridge to remind me what I can buy, eat, cook and where. Make ethical choices easy for yourself to get through the adjustment stage it takes effort initially and personally I like the ripping a band-aid off quickly approach as opposed to a protracted period of changing some small things but i guess its your preference and depends on how determined you are to stick to it. Some people they change one large thing and the small things aren't that hard. 

Also, i try not to put anyone on my dislike list just because they don't share the same beliefs as I have on food or other topics. (I put food and politics on my OK to disagree list though). I don't know how to put it well in words but I'd rather get along with someone then be constantly fruitlessly trying to preach to convert them. (Waste of effort.) People aren't dumb, might be ignorant or even seem cruel because they don't seem to think animals have a consciousness and love eating them but you always have the option of not associating with them too much if it upsets you. You can't control others choices or change them. So at a certain point you have to let go and try not to let things control you. Anyway =) good luck. 

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#15 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 10:26 AM
 
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This woman basically expressed the attitude that if you’re not going to be vegan, you need to be aware of and accept where your food is coming from. I can see her point when it comes to adults, but this seems like an unfair burden to place on children.

 

I am not being argumentative but I don't get this.

 

Why should children not be burdened by knowing this? Burden being your word (not mine). I really don't understand this.

We are flesh eaters, that aside, from a very early age I have shown/instilled where are diet comes from (we see our food before and after)- so I'm really confused here. I have family that grew up on farms, they saw slandering from a very early age, my children have know this, we have had an ongoing conversation since early childhood but IMO by age 12 a child should know. Maybe I am missing something but I don't get this.

Same way if you are vegan and choose to use non-animal products in your daily life (clothing-leather, etc), I would think that the conversation about synthetics and their impact on the environment would also be topic for discussion and knowledge a child should be regularly exposed to- this ins't judgment, it's information.

 

ETA- we talk about all our food, not just "meats" - we talk about how things are grown, where they come from, why we by what where, etc. - money regarding our diet is also an ongoing from a very young age topic as well

 

If you are getting assistance (depending on the state) you can sometimes use the Access at farms/farm markets and make other non-comerrical store choices.

 

As the other poster mentioned if she can not get eggs (to her standards) she doesn't eat them - cheap food doesn't make it good and this has nothing to do with just meats, intake need for consumption as to not starve is one thing but also it is sometimes wise to opt for better one item vs several of less expensive - many do with ethically/organic meats - less vs non (be it standard or organic, etc)

 

 

Can you also give a little info- something seems to be missing here for me- what type of group is this? How does slandering chickens just come up- is this a food related activity? When I think of food related topics, I would think you will find all types of people with all types of diets and opinions on eating flesh and should prepare for that.

 

It might be wise to discuss that others will not share her thoughts and discuss how to best proceed when faced with conflicting view points, this goes for other children who may be more blunt in asking her direct questions on this and other topics.

With any topic (religion or other hot button topics) it best - IMO to prepare the child for what they may face. I frankly can see those her own age asking her more questions and having strong opinions and voicing them to her, maybe children who were there and saw what happened. 

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#16 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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serenbat, I didn't mean that children shouldn't be burdened with the knowledge about where food comes from. We have watched the movie "Food Inc." with our daughters and we definitely believe in knowing and caring about our impact on everyone and everything around us.

 

I was talking more about the attitude that if I'm going to eat meat, I should be willing to slaughter it and go through the whole process of preparing it for myself. I honestly haven't done this myself yet, but I do not object to anyone telling me, as an adult, that I should be willing to engage in the whole process if I'm going to eat meat.

 

I do have a problem with people saying that children -- who don't usually have complete control over the foods that are served at their tables -- need to be willing to slaughter animals, or even be willing to listen to graphic accounts of their slaughter without being offended, unless they are vegan.

 

Yes, my daughter has gotten used to other children criticizing her for not eating chickens when she still eats other meats. They don't understand that she developed a close relationship with her chickens while she had them. Her choice to not eat chickens while still eating other meats is every bit as consistent as their choice to bury their dead dog in the backyard rather than roasting him on the spit, even though they still choose to eat other meats roasted on the spit.

 

I think, or hope, that we learn more objectivity as we get older, and I do work to help my children see things from other vantage points. We can't imagine the idea of eating our cats and dogs, whereas many Indians revere their cows and probably think the American practice of eating hamburgers is just awful. I think it's okay to accept our own subjectivity, but we also need to accept others' subjectivity and not berate them for being "inconsistent." We are all inconsistent in some area.


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P.S. It's not a 4-H group or anything. I don't want to give the name of the organization because that doesn't seem relevant. I'm trying to remember exactly how that woman got on the topic of chicken slaughtering, but it kind of escapes me at the moment. We'd been chatting about craft materials and such.


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#18 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 11:06 AM
 
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I do have a problem with people saying that children -- who don't usually have complete control over the foods that are served at their tables -- need to be willing to slaughter animals, or even be willing to listen to graphic accounts of their slaughter without being offended, unless they are vegan.

 

The woman said this? She had to see slaughtering to be a vegan?  

 

People can ask if someone is vegan without implying they must watch slaughtering. 

I could only guess that the woman (rather she is or is not correct in how she handled it) and other children are a bit baffled by a strong opinion only for chickens, yet not being vegan and eating other "meats". I understand the chicken has a conscious but other animals do not? I could see how others would have some trouble here understand her.

 

 

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P.S. It's not a 4-H group or anything. I don't want to give the name of the organization because that doesn't seem relevant. I'm trying to remember exactly how that woman got on the topic of chicken slaughtering, but it kind of escapes me at the moment. We'd been chatting about craft materials and such.

I did not ask for the name, I asked about what type of group/activity it is- food related? where topics like this come up


 

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#19 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 11:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The woman said this? She had to see slaughtering to be a vegan?  

No, she didn't actually say that she had to see slaughtering. She seemed to basically be saying that if dd was not vegan, then she should not be offended by people saying things like "chickens don't have a consciousness" and "you don't need to treat chickens humanely because they are chickens."

 

Of course, I do understand that empathy grows in stages, and in a world where many people don't even believe babies of their own species have a consciousness -- i.e., some people say that human babies can't feel any pain while being circumcised, or that they aren't psychologically harmed by being left alone to cry themselves to sleep -- in such a world, it's only to be expected that many people would view animals as totally "other."

 

It's been a real growth process for dh and me, and I appreciate those of you who reminded me that I don't need to be trying to rationalize to others why we believe animals have a consciousness, and yet have not managed, at this point, to completely stop eating animals/animal products that have not been raised/produced humanely.


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People can ask if someone is vegan without implying they must watch slaughtering. 

I could only guess that the woman (rather she is or is not correct in how she handled it) and other children are a bit baffled by a strong opinion only for chickens, yet not being vegan and eating other "meats". I understand the chicken has a conscious but other animals do not? I could see how others would have some trouble here understand her.

 

I don't know if anyone was baffled -- but it was pretty clear to me, and probably to anyone else who may have been listening, that dd was responding to the woman's comments about not needing to treat chickens humanely -- she was not saying that anyone who eats chickens is evil incarnate.


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#21 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I did not ask for the name, I asked about what type of group/activity it is- food related? where topics like this come up

 

It's not a group specifically about food, but I think it's a group in which food, the environment, and other lifestyle related topics will sometimes come up.

 

I do think it's good for children to learn to converse respectfully with people who have differing opinions, provided that those people, especially adults, are able to converse respectfully with the child.

 

This was just a short interaction, and I've never met any of these people before, so time will tell whether the group is a good fit for us and whether we are a good fit for it.


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#22 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 12:13 PM
 
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Clearly respect goes both way.

 

regardless of the subject, it's important to prepare the best on can for the possibility that she will face many that may not understand or agree with her


 

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Clearly respect goes both way.

 

Of course it does, and I must say I'm really proud of how assertively and respectfully dd communicated her views with this woman. I also agree that, in our diverse world, we should all be prepared for the fact that others are bound to have different opinions than we do about many things.


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#24 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am realzing that there are so many layers to this issue. For example, on the one hand, I feel that my daughter's statement to the woman that "You treat chickens humanely because they have a consciousness," didn't really call for a response of "Are you vegan?" because, to my way of thinking, dd wasn't saying that no one should eat chickens -- she was just objecting to the woman's statement that you don't treat chickens humanely because they're chickens.

 

But it all comes down to how we define "humane." Is there such a thing as humane killing? There are so many different opinions about this. Maybe this woman feels that there is no such thing as humane treatment of an animal that you are raising for food. To me, there is just such a huge gap between chickens being packed together in warehouses, and chickens going free range and being gently and lovingly cared for, and living a happy life, but eventually being eaten.

 

I honestly don't think this woman is warehousing chickens or being cruel to them, or advocating that sort of behavior -- but it's possible that, to her, there's no such thing as humanely raising an animal for food. In which case, she may very well believe that the only people who have the right to say that animals have a consciousness and should be treated humanely are vegans.


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#25 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 04:03 PM
 
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The woman talking to your daughter was a twit. A chicken-raising twit. orngtongue.gif I buy chicken from a woman who slaughters them without ethical qualms, eats them with gusto, and devotes a huge amount of time and energy to cultivating a local market for their meat, but if you suggested to her that it didn't matter how you treated chickens I think she'd slap you. They are living creatures. Their suffering matters. Their slaughtering is a serious business with profound ethical implications.

 

It sounds like your daughter handled this difficult encounter very gracefully, and you should be proud of her.

 

WRT to your family's diet, I never encourage anybody to go vegetarian or vegan because I think humans are natural omnivores. But you have really done an excellent job of identifying the ethically suspect choices in your current diet - industrial ranch dressing, industrial cheese, industrial milk and eggs. These are solveable problems no matter how tight your food budget, but it's not an overnight fix. You need to find a farmer that sells these kinds of products at a price you can afford. I do NOT live in a very progressive or high-income part of the country, and I can buy eggs, milk and cheese at my state farmer's market and through an online co-op. Try locallygrown.net and see what they offer in your area. 

 

The ranch dressing issue will only be solved by trial and error. Make dipping sauces at home with ingredients that you feel good about, and tweak the recipe until you produce an acceptable substitute. Don't be afraid to fail 100 times. You will get it right eventually, if you care enough to keep trying. 

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#26 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 05:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Smithie, the thing is, I honestly don't think this woman was saying that it was okay to treat chickens cruelly -- I think the main issue may just be one of semantics, of her seeing "humane" treatment as something reserved for human beings. She said something about treating chickens "chickenly."

 

She'd been talking about a woman she knows who has a contraption that enables her to kill chickens without having them running around with their heads cut off. It didn't sound like there was any difference between the amount of pain they experienced being killed in this manner versus in the more old fashioned manner, it just sounds like the woman with the contraption felt like it allowed the chickens to die with more dignity, and the woman talking about it with us seemed to just feel like it was kind of ridiculous for her friend or acquaintance to feel this way.

 

I honestly don't feel like either method is necessarily wrong or ridiculous. I think there's room for everyone to have more respect for each other. I do believe chickens have a consciousness, and I'll admit that if were killing one, I'd prefer not to have it running around with its head cut off. But I imagine the chickens themselves live totally in the present and aren't even worrying about whether they are dying with dignity or jerking around involuntarity with kids laughing at them. How we treat them after death is more about how much respect we have for the life spirit that flows through both them and us. Different people may express this reverence in different ways.


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#27 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 06:12 PM
 
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I think it was fairly insensitive of the woman to launch (somewhat out of the blue) into a discussion on slaughtering chickens.  It is a sensitive topic for many people and she should have known better.  I don't know that slaughtering conversation will come up out of the blue too often, it might just be that this is a one-off and your daughter does not need further instruction on how to deal with things like this.  

 

I do think it is possible to eat in a way that is more in line with your beliefs inexpensively.  Post on the veg. forum if you need help - it will be fun to help you revamp some recipes!  I actually spend less eating a vegetarian diet than I did as a meat eater, fwiw.

 

I agree with the poster upthread who said it is possible to retrain your tastebuds.  I know - I have done it.  It does not happen overnight, but you can take baby steps towards it.


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#28 of 91 Old 01-10-2013, 07:55 PM
 
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Smithie, the thing is, I honestly don't think this woman was saying that it was okay to treat chickens cruelly -- I think the main issue may just be one of semantics, of her seeing "humane" treatment as something reserved for human beings. She said something about treating chickens "chickenly."

 

She'd been talking about a woman she knows who has a contraption that enables her to kill chickens without having them running around with their heads cut off. It didn't sound like there was any difference between the amount of pain they experienced being killed in this manner versus in the more old fashioned manner, it just sounds like the woman with the contraption felt like it allowed the chickens to die with more dignity, and the woman talking about it with us seemed to just feel like it was kind of ridiculous for her friend or acquaintance to feel this way.

 

 

 

Quote:
  It is a sensitive topic for many people and she should have known better.  I don't know that slaughtering conversation will come up out of the blue too often, it might just be that this is a one-off and your daughter does not need further instruction on how to deal with things like this.  

 

Without knowing the full context or even the type of meeting, it seems really bizarre that this even comes up with a group of 12 year olds- is this an age appropriate group? IF so, no other parent found this conversation odd?

 

I really would wonder what else might just pop up/or out.


 

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#29 of 91 Old 01-11-2013, 02:25 AM
 
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First, the woman handled the situation very badly. She told a graphic story about slaughtering chickens and when a child said they were offended she didn't apologize but got defensive and tried to tell the child they were wrong or had no right to feel the way they did. That wasn't very responsible, respectful or friendly. I would be wary of her as a leader of your child's group whether your family eats vegan or not. That was not cool behavior from a group leader IMO.

 

The second issue I see is helping your dd come to terms with the way other people feel about chickens and how they treat them. Because she loves chickens it must be hard for her to understand that others do not view them as beautiful, intelligent creatures or care about eating them. I'm not sure if your dd objects to all chickens being eaten, the way the chickens are cared for in life or the actual way they are killed. There are definitely people who will have the same point of view as your dd and there are people who will not simply because they are starting from an entirely different point of view. There are cultures who eat animals that we would never dream of eating... and it is a bit hard to understand or feel that it is okay for people to make such different choices simply because it is their tradition or culture or they think animals are stupid when it is an animal you love. It can be an emotionally charged issue from all sides though.

I suppose I would tell your dd that she has a right to her feelings and opinions and there are people... lots of people who feel the same as her. I would tell her that not everyone does and it is a hard issue to argue... that sometimes she can help others change their views by her example and where she chooses to spend her money or organizations she supports rather than engaging people one-on-one. It isn't wrong to speak up but you aren't going to change everyone's mind so don't let it depress you if the person continues to disagree.


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#30 of 91 Old 01-11-2013, 04:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know the woman well enough to know if something like this is likely to pop out of her mouth again. She seemed to feel badly when dd and I headed out the door without her having had a chance to smooth things over with her. She'd been trying to explain how if you're not vegan, you need to be aware of all these things. I did watch the movie "Edible City" and it sounds like maybe she's seen it, too, because that's something they talk about in there as part of being a responsible meat eater -- really being in touch with where your food is coming from. And I really agree with that idea just not with how this woman approached it with dd.

 

I did get the impression throughout the evening that she seemed a little out of touch with how other people might receive certain comments. When I got there, she was chatting about the European vacation her family was planning -- not that that in itself was insensitive, and it may be kind of self-centered on my part to even think anything about it, but it kind of made me feel, right off, like we lived in totally different worlds. Of course, there's nothing wrong with anyone going to Europe. I did it myself more than twenty years ago.

 

I don't think I would have thought so much about the European thing, if she hadn't later told us all (all of us, not just me) that "our assignment" was to complete the registration process and pay for our memberships so we could get started on the actual stuff next time. She did say that she needed to do it , too, so she was talking to herself, too. I said that we would not be able to officially join until February, and she said she understood and that's what she uses credit cards for.

 

Of course, I didn't say anything more or go into our reality, in which we're feeling a bit overwhelmed by the credit card debt we've accumulated during those times when we haven't had money on hand to buy food or take care of necessary car repairs. We're just hoping, after getting our tax return and paying down our debts as much as we can, to have enough left over to pay for our girls' activities. And they're not extremely expensive activities either. It's just not something we want to add to our credit card debt.

 

All in all, I think dd will have to learn to deal with people like this, who seem like they aren't all that aware of or sensitive to others' realities and others' perspectives. I am really proud of how she handled this situation, and we'll just see how things go next time.


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