4 yr old dd the vegetarian, dh the hunter, and explaining the circle of life - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 06-03-2003, 09:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay I need some help explaining things to my lil dd. Out of no where tonight my just turned 4 yr old dd says, "I want to be a vegetarian". In my shock, I ask her if she knows what that means. She says that vegetarians don't eat meat. I explained that means no more turket burgers, or chicken. She says, "No mom, I can eat chicken, just not MEAT". So I explain that chicken, ham, etc are meat. So she is thinking it over, and asks why people choose to be vegetarian. I tell her there are lots of reasons, but many people don't want to eat animals since they had to be killed to get the meat. SO she said she didn't want the animals to be killed (what if it was a mommy animal, and all of that), and we agrees to go get veggie burgers and nuggets for her to try tomorrow before she made her definative decision. (She thought she could not live w/o these things, but is willing to try the veggie version). Then she says, "well daddy kills deer" (she has never had a problem with this before) . Then she got upset about animals that eat other animals, and animals that die of old age, etc. I try explaining dh's reasons for hunting. I try to explain the circle of life. We all eat meat, btw. So how do I support whatever dd feels strongly about, without making dh to be the all evil hunter, and how do explain the natural circle of life???:
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#2 of 8 Old 06-03-2003, 10:19 PM
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Wow, not an easy question!!

Well, you might explain that some vegetarians are simply protesting against the way meat is grown and processed here, and you could go into that....

I have to say that as a very young child I remember being very upset seeing animals killing other animals on TV. I have often wondered how children growing up on a farm learn to deal with this. So many kids just seem to naturally love animals (my DD included). I'll be interested in hearing the replies to this!

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#3 of 8 Old 06-03-2003, 11:52 PM
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It sounds like DD is just starting to grasp death. Expect several conversations over the next couple years and tears with some of them. My oldest ds and I have conversations reguarly about death and dying. Now, would be an excellent time to teach her your spiritual veiws. DS finds much confort in this.

As for dh being a hunter. Sorry, I don't have good advice for you.

My grand mother and grand father were both raised on farms. My mother spending a lot of time with the gp saw many animals slaughtered, but only chickens. The kids were never allowed to watch the pigs and cows slaughtered. Mom said watching chickens slaughtered was awful. I also knew some farmers who made it clear to the children that the farm animals were food and not pets. They were not allowed to get emotionally attached to the animals. No names, aren't allowed to talk to or pet the animals, ect.
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#4 of 8 Old 06-04-2003, 01:38 AM
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I'm a vegetarian for a couple of reasons, mainly the environmental impacts of livestock production and fishing as well as the inhumanity of the slaughterhouse facilities. You could tell her that many people (like me) choose to be vegetarian because the way the animals are treated on the "farms" (I use the word loosely) is mean.

OTOH, animals like the deer your dh hunts live a pretty good life (at least a natural one) and die a pretty good death (assuming he's a good shot, LOL). I think hunting is much more humane than the slaughterhouse, and certainly has a lot fewer environmental impacts.

Don't know if this is too abstract for your dd or not, but what I'm trying to get at is the difference between a miserable, unnatural life and a nasty death and a free, natural life and a quick death. (Not to over romanticise the life of a white tail deer, but you catch my drift.)

Or you could tell her that some people just don't like the taste of meat and find fruits and veggies a lot tastier.

I've known some people who decided to be vegetarian at a young age and stuck with it. So you may have a veghead on your hands..... If so, there are a lot of great resources here at MDC and online for raising healthy veggie kids, which it's very easy to do (meat/dairy is really not necessary for a healthy diet. even for growing kids).

Good luck, I'll be interested to hear how you handle it!

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#5 of 8 Old 06-04-2003, 02:20 AM
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I have a 4 yr old vegetarian in a family of meat eaters, too. She has been veggie for several months now and is pretty set on vegetarianism.
We talk a lot about personal choices, about balance, and about the different ways our food comes to us. A hunter going out and shooting a deer who is living free in the wild is much more humane than a cow living it's entire exhistence in the filthy conditions of a commercial farm IMHO. Nobody has to be the bad guy here, just lots of options.
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#6 of 8 Old 06-04-2003, 07:48 AM
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Let your husband speak for himself about hunting. he's probably spent enough time at it that he has reasons.

I'm impressed with your dd, whether she sticks with this or not. It takes some sophistication to worry about where your foods come from.

Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
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#7 of 8 Old 06-05-2003, 07:52 PM
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I agree that this is a good subject for you to be working on now with your daughter.

slightly OT: One of my cousins (they are all hunters) refuses to eat commercial meat. He is a good hunter and it is kinda funny to be over at his place and hear the kids saying "Daaaaad, not elk sausages agaaaainnnn!" They also don't have meat every day. Maybe three to six meals a week. The rest is good vegetarian meals.
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#8 of 8 Old 06-05-2003, 08:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all for all of your thoughtful posts. We talked about the difference between what hunting and mass produced meat. (See this gets touchy too, because my mom whole side of the family, siblings, parents, etc have made riches by mass producing genetically messed with pigs. : ) But I told her my personal feelings (I only eat the meat dh kills, as well as friends whole raised free range cows, chickens, etc.), and why. Then I explained why others might chose to be veggie and why. She is now torn because she "loooveees hamburgers ", but she doesn't want the animals to die. I am realizing this may not be so much of a moral things for her, interms of animals dying for her to eat. But I think it is more of a, she doesn't want any animals to die ever. So we are going to talk about the whole circle of life thing, and then maybe try some veggie burgers. Thanks again for all of your advice. I am quite tickled that she is such a deep thinker to come up with these thoughts (esp amidst our family of animal killing carnivores, where I was nearly disowned for not eating meat for 4 years
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