Raising a veg kid w/ a meat-eating DH in a meat eating world??? -Support needed please- - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 11-15-2010, 12:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry in advance that this is so long, but it's been weighing heavily on me since I found out I was pregnant more than a year ago.

 

Our baby is almost 6 months and pretty soon we're going to start him with BLW on solids, so the food story begins...

I have been vegetarian (lacto ovo) most of my life. DH is a meat eater, but not to an extreme. I do all the cooking here and he loves my food without meat, no issue there. He will occasionally cook a frozen turkey breast or shrimp for himself, and he eats salami sausages nearly every day as a snack at home, as well as eating meat when we go out.

We have barely discussed the meat issue in regards to our son's future diet, partly because I know we will disagree to some extent.

I would like DS to be veggie as long as I am making his food choices for him, and when he's old enough (3? 4?) to understand what meat is, he can decide for himself. I don't mind if he chooses to eat meat, as long as it's a mindful decision.

 

So I have some questions for veteran veggie mamas, and especially those with meat eating hubbys:

 

-How am I supposed to stop DS from eating meat when DH is munching away on his sausages? I know I could ask him to eat the meat not in front of the baby, which he may agree to (probably not though), but then what about when we're out and DH or others are eating meat and DS wants some? Obviously there's no explaining that to a 1+ year old, besides just saying no. And how do you deal with family? I know the in-laws are going to give me a hard time, and I guess I just have to set very firm limits with them. But I know at all our family gatherings there are platefuls of meat being passed around the table and DS is inevitably going to want to try it. What then, when everybody else except me is eating it, and DS is too young to understand why I don't and he can't?

 

- How do you teach young children about what meat really is without traumatizing them or making them feel guilty if they want to eat it? I thought about visiting some farms and familiarizing him with cows and pigs, and our neighbors have chickens we can visit and get to know. I just don't want to scare him when explaining that those animals get killed for meat. At what age did your child understand and become able to make their own decision? And how did you help them understand what meat is in a child-friendly, yet realistic way?

 

To be honest I know for a fact that DH prefers not to think about where his meat comes from -he eats it unconsciously, as many meat eaters do- and I do not want DS to pick that up from him. I would fully support DS being a meat eater, however, as long as he does it mindfully. I guess it's a good thing I am the primary caretaker and cook of the family then, huh!?

 

TIA for your support, ideas, and experiences.love.gif


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#2 of 11 Old 11-15-2010, 05:27 AM
 
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I have been a vegetarian but not during the time when raising kids, and my kid isn't veggie AND I was never vegetarian for any kind of animal rights reasons, so this is probably not the perspective you are looking for, but I did want to comment on this:
Quote:
- How do you teach young children about what meat really is without traumatizing them or making them feel guilty if they want to eat it? I thought about visiting some farms and familiarizing him with cows and pigs, and our neighbors have chickens we can visit and get to know. I just don't want to scare him when explaining that those animals get killed for meat. At what age did your child understand and become able to make their own decision? And how did you help them understand what meat is in a child-friendly, yet realistic way?
I actually think many kids can grasp the circle of life and be okay with killing animals for food, especially if they have a lot of exposure to nature and if they have some spiritual background that helps them deal with death. We have talked about this a lot with my son as my extended family is really into hunting (not me!), so lots of discussions about hunting, saying thank you when an animal is killed, being grateful for the energy that has gone into your food (plant or animal), being humane about the actual moment of slaughter. We have also spent a lot of time near farms, so we talk about the reasons people raise certain kind of animals and how the animals we see become part of our food.

I've never tried to hide the origins of meat and DS is very aware that each cute furry animal on the farm has its purpose and that, as farmers, we must treat the animal with as much love and respect and be thankful for it. We're currently raising a pig, some ducks and some chickens and we've talked a lot about how the pig is being raised for a big party we're having in December. It's not a "pet" and is not treated like one. Perhaps this situation would be different if DS was totally unexposed to farm life or if we didn't talk about death as being part of the cycle of life (my mom's singing group has a great song which talks about how energy moves between rain to grain to flesh to soil). He has never seemed upset by the idea of eating meat, and these discussions have definitely been occurring since he understood speech.

That's probably completely the opposite viewpoint, but I did want to address the idea of teaching about meat/cycle of life in a humane and respectful manner. If your omni partner is still iffy about addressing these ideas, that sounds like it would be more confusing to a child (here, son, eat this but don't ask where it comes from...) than just saying "we don't eat meat, but we eat other things...". as a very young child, it's just like any other forbidden food--watch carefully what your kid is given and be okay with dealing with tantrums if you take it away. we did this with candy for a while, and it can be a headache but definitely worth it nutrition-wise.

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#3 of 11 Old 11-15-2010, 06:31 AM
 
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DS is 21mos & we do run into roadbumps occasionally (see my thread Helping a toddler remain vegan)... It's not too bad since we all (even DH) eat 100% vegan at home, so we mostly run into issues when we're out. I've been trying to be better about bringing yummy alternatives for him, and the biggest issue is when DH is eating something & he's not. Otherwise, he's used to other kids eating different foods etc. This has almost made DH consider being vegan while out too but he's just not ready for that & we both feel that DH should make that choice for himself, not 'because of DS'. So we have been having talks lately with DS about how the meat pizza daddy is eating is made from cows, and mommy & DS don't eat cows, etc. So far he's been totally OK with it but I don't know how much he truly understands or if he's just being agreeable.

 

As far as others' opinions, I always made it clear even before he was born that DS would be raised vegan (in fact I think that's one of the first questions both my parents & the inlaws asked when I was pregnant!!) Luckily DH is totally on board with it & feels that it's best for DS, though he's not very vocal about it in front of his parents, but at least I know I have his support...

 

We do bring DS to lots of farms but we haven't yet talked about the animals there being used for food. I don't think DS totally understands the concept of people eating meat yet (I don't think he really knows that ground beef isn't just some fancy mushroom that grows on cows lol) but I think that's a good idea & we may discuss that down the line. However we are not vegan for animal rights reasons so our talks with him might be different than yours might be...


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#4 of 11 Old 11-15-2010, 10:15 AM
 
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Hey, there. I'm vegan, my DH is omni and my DS is 4.5 now and is mostly L/O vegetarian, although once in a very blue moon (maybe 2-3 times a year) he wants to try some meat that his dad or grandparents or friends are having.

Quote:
-How am I supposed to stop DS from eating meat when DH is munching away on his sausages? I know I could ask him to eat the meat not in front of the baby, which he may agree to (probably not though), but then what about when we're out and DH or others are eating meat and DS wants some? Obviously there's no explaining that to a 1+ year old, besides just saying no. And how do you deal with family? I know the in-laws are going to give me a hard time, and I guess I just have to set very firm limits with them. But I know at all our family gatherings there are platefuls of meat being passed around the table and DS is inevitably going to want to try it. What then, when everybody else except me is eating it, and DS is too young to understand why I don't and he can't?

If you have some advance warning, the easiest thing to do is provide him with vegetarian alternatives. If DH is having sausage, get some Field Roast or other vegetarian sausages to serve for you and DS. At Thanksgiving, have some veggie turkey slices or something else that physically looks the same. Chances are, he won't even notice until he's 2-3 and by that age, you'll be able to more adequately talk about values with him. If he does notice, a simple "that's what they're having, me and you are gonna have this. YUMMY!" might work. Maybe have his favorite food on hand and offer that. Many toddlers don't eat exactly what their parents eat all the time anyway, so he won't necessarily want the exact same thing. Like, I think last year at Christmas, DS had some microwaved chik'n nuggets while I had a lentil loaf that he would never eat and everyone else had steak.

 

Honestly, because DS was 1 y.o. before I went vegetarian (and later vegan), he'd already had some meat at that point and although I stopped serving it to him, I didn't think a taste once a year or so would be the end of the world, so if he was really insistent, I'd let him try it (he never wanted more than a bite or two). It was kind of nice that he was already "tainted." I know others would disagree with that, though.

 

As for the inlaws/family, it is difficult early on, but you're right, you just have to set limits. "I'm (/we're) making a parenting choice to avoid meat for at least the time being." You might want to prepare yourself with success stories and statistics and proof that you are following all appropriate nutritional guidelines, because those arguments are sure to crop up, or you can just tell people to mind their own business if you don't have problems with confrontation like I do. ;) It gets much easier when the kid is older - my DS was 3 - and begins to articulate for himself that he doesn't like or want meat.

 

 

Quote:
- How do you teach young children about what meat really is without traumatizing them or making them feel guilty if they want to eat it? I thought about visiting some farms and familiarizing him with cows and pigs, and our neighbors have chickens we can visit and get to know. I just don't want to scare him when explaining that those animals get killed for meat. At what age did your child understand and become able to make their own decision? And how did you help them understand what meat is in a child-friendly, yet realistic way?

Yup, exactly like that. Introduce him to real, live animals. Talk about what we like about them, how sweet and gentle they are, their similarities with people - DS loves to see calves and piglets nursing and always has. "Just like me!" he says. There's a learning farm near our house - part of the county parks and rec dept - and we spend a lot of time there. I think he was around 2 or so when I started talking about how I love to eat fruits and vegetables and beans and grains (focusing on what we CAN eat instead of what we CAN'T is a big part of my veg*n mindset), but not meat because meat is made out of our animal friends and I didn't want to eat them. I kept it casual, just mentioned it to him from time to time. He didn't care at first, and then gradually got curious. I let him ask whatever questions he wanted about it and tried to answer honestly, although I avoid violent-type words so as not to traumatize him. Like I don't think I've ever intentionally said the animals are "killed." I say something like the animals used to be alive and then they're not alive anymore and then people cook and eat them. I had a hard time when he asked about someone cutting the animals up. I kept going back to the animals that we "know" and asking how he would feel about someone eating those animals. By around 3, he definitely got it, and by 3.5 was declaring himself to be a vegetarian too and sometimes delivering lectures to other adults about why we don't eat our animal friends. :)

 

There's a ton of resources out there to help. http://www.veganfamily.co.uk/kidsbooksveg.html has a bunch of good veg kids books. So does this one http://www.vegfamily.com/vegan-children/vegan-thanksgiving-stories.htm, with particular emphasis on Thanksgiving (hmm, scooting over to amazon now to buy some of these before next week!).

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#5 of 11 Old 12-21-2010, 01:28 PM
 
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I'm in the same spot, but am basically taking the opposite approach to dealing with it.

 

I am lacto/ovo veg, dh is omni, and ds eats whatever is served. 

 

Since I do the cooking, I make veg meals.  DH will pick up a roast chicken from the supermarket every now and then when he's craving meat and that seems to work out well for him.  I don't support him purchasing chickens that were probably raised in squallid conditions and would prefer that he get chicken from our local farm share delivery service, but he doesn't cook and I won't cook it for him. 

 

As far as DS goes - He eats what I make, but when he's at gramma's (3 days per week) he eats whatever I send him for lunch and what she gives him... which is usually deep fried, pre packaged, greasy, "food." I never eat at her house when i'm there, but I also feel that, because she watches him for free, I really can't say, "i need for you to change the eating and buying habits you've had for the last 50 years to be exactly like mine." 

 

Basically - I've decided that under my roof I can make my rules, and try to give DS alternatives for when he's not home... Other than that, I'm pretty much subject to other people's house rules.

 

Eventually, when DS asks why mamma doesn't eat meat, then we'll have a discussion about it - maybe he'll decide to be a veg too, which would be great!  but until then, I let him choose what he wants to eat. 

 

ps - I should mention that DH's family is puerto rican, so all the family meals are upside down as far as the food pyramid goes: 2-3 kinds of meat, lots of starches, and maybe a veg... So you see what I'm up against!!

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#6 of 11 Old 12-22-2010, 10:48 AM
 
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I'm only 8 weeks along with our first child, but will be in a similar situation to yours. I'm a long time vegetarian and my husband eats meat. I do most of the cooking in the house, so he doesn't eat meat that much, but does have the occasional meat item every once in a while. I'm also the only person in both of our families who is a vegetarian, so our child is going to have a lot of meat around them growing up!

 

There are going to be lots of things that a 1 year old can't eat that he'll see grown ups eating. A simple explanation that he has his own food and that that's mommy or daddy's food should be enough. At that age, I don't think an explanation is really that necessary. As for how to explain to a 3 year old where meat comes from...that's a tough one and I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to go about it either. I do want my child to make up their own mind when they're old enough about whether or not to eat meat, but honestly I may wait until they're a bit older- say 6 or 7- before I'm comfortable with them being able to really understand and make up his own mind. I think that at 3 years old, it would be great to take him to some farms and seeing some cows and chickens would be a great way to get him introduced to where meat comes from.

 

When I was little, my parents told me that food comes from the store when I asked about meat. I wanted to know why the chicken we ate had the same name as the chicken that I got to pet at the petting zoo, but their answer was always food comes from the store. I guess that's one way to go about it- but that sort of method made me a hardcore vegetarian. I guess it depends on how honest you want to be with your kid, especially at that age. Parents conceal information from their young kids all the time, like where babies come from for example. I think that you have to find the balance between telling them what they need to know and protecting them from what's not necessary for them to learn at a certain age. Often this means embellishing just a bit. :)

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#7 of 11 Old 12-22-2010, 11:18 AM
 
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I'm lacto-ovo veg DH is Omni. I do the cooking, DH and DD eat whatever I make. DH eats meat when we go out. DD was lacto-ovo veg until she was about 3, at that time I decided to let her make her own choices about food. This has worked out great for us, generally she chooses meat free options on her own (no prompting from me) but occasionally opts for or tries a few bites of whatever meat is on offer. This makes social situations, family gatherings, playdates much easier since she does occasionally eat meat--our hosts aren't in the position of having to make her a special dish (since I'm too lazy to prepare something to bring along :) ) so she eats whats available. Plus I don't get smart comments from relatives because they see her occasionally eat a hot dog or piece of chicken--so no one can give me a hard time about the supposed value of meat eating (which I don't really want to hear anyway). 

 

She knows that bacon comes from a pig, she knows that the pig was killed to make the bacon--doesn't seem to upset her. I never liked meat even as a kid--didn't like eating a cooked dead body (that's how I thought of it, still do actually)--but my DD seems to be a little different from me and I'm fine with that. I've always been a very live and let live type veggie I never criticize meat eaters food choices, I don't make a big thing out of my food choices, so having DD make her own choices works for me.

 

When I was pregnant, the  in laws and others would ask me about the meat no meat thing. I always said when she's old enough to make her own decisions about it then she'll choose for herself. They were all fine with that answer. One time when DD was a baby MIL did try to give her a spoonful of ground beef, I gently told her that I prefer DD didn't have meat yet as I wasn't sure how her system would react to it. I'm sure MIL was a little taken aback but she did as I asked.

 

I don't think you need to worry about Baby wanting sausages yet anyway :) ! Your DC will be eating pears, avocados etc at first and if you're still nursing even that will be sporadic.

 

:)

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#8 of 11 Old 12-22-2010, 11:33 AM
 
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Honestly, i think you're putting the cart before the horse a fair bit. The very first thing you need to do is sit down and have that conversation w your DH. Until you do that, the rest of this is an academic exercise.

As for him eating meat in front of your LO - not as big a concern for a while as you seem to think. At 15 mos, our DS eats off our plates what we give him. But there are certain foods we dont give him and he doesnt much care, so long as we give him something. He does eat meat sometimes, but prefers eggs or cheese. So long as you have other snacks to distract him, daddys sausages shouldnt be a problem for a while.

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#9 of 11 Old 12-22-2010, 11:55 AM
 
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Honestly, this one of those things like religion that needs to be worked out long before you have a baby together. Your chances of raising a veg child with a meat eating spouse are slim. Like trying to raise a believer with an atheist spouse... it ain't gonna happen. Eventually, your kid will call  you on that!

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#10 of 11 Old 12-22-2010, 11:58 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P.J. View Post

Sorry in advance that this is so long, but it's been weighing heavily on me since I found out I was pregnant more than a year ago.

 

Our baby is almost 6 months and pretty soon we're going to start him with BLW on solids, so the food story begins...

I have been vegetarian (lacto ovo) most of my life. DH is a meat eater, but not to an extreme. I do all the cooking here and he loves my food without meat, no issue there. He will occasionally cook a frozen turkey breast or shrimp for himself, and he eats salami sausages nearly every day as a snack at home, as well as eating meat when we go out.

We have barely discussed the meat issue in regards to our son's future diet, partly because I know we will disagree to some extent.

I would like DS to be veggie as long as I am making his food choices for him, and when he's old enough (3? 4?) to understand what meat is, he can decide for himself. I don't mind if he chooses to eat meat, as long as it's a mindful decision.

 

So I have some questions for veteran veggie mamas, and especially those with meat eating hubbys:

 

-How am I supposed to stop DS from eating meat when DH is munching away on his sausages? I know I could ask him to eat the meat not in front of the baby, which he may agree to (probably not though), but then what about when we're out and DH or others are eating meat and DS wants some? Obviously there's no explaining that to a 1+ year old, besides just saying no. And how do you deal with family? I know the in-laws are going to give me a hard time, and I guess I just have to set very firm limits with them. But I know at all our family gatherings there are platefuls of meat being passed around the table and DS is inevitably going to want to try it. What then, when everybody else except me is eating it, and DS is too young to understand why I don't and he can't?

 

- How do you teach young children about what meat really is without traumatizing them or making them feel guilty if they want to eat it? I thought about visiting some farms and familiarizing him with cows and pigs, and our neighbors have chickens we can visit and get to know. I just don't want to scare him when explaining that those animals get killed for meat. At what age did your child understand and become able to make their own decision? And how did you help them understand what meat is in a child-friendly, yet realistic way?

 

To be honest I know for a fact that DH prefers not to think about where his meat comes from -he eats it unconsciously, as many meat eaters do- and I do not want DS to pick that up from him. I would fully support DS being a meat eater, however, as long as he does it mindfully. I guess it's a good thing I am the primary caretaker and cook of the family then, huh!?

 

TIA for your support, ideas, and experiences.love.gif


Honestly, I think the key to people that do eat meat mindfully or who choose to become veg is that they don't have a disconnect between food/animals.  My older kids understand completely that animals live, die, and are killed, both by humans and by other animals.  This has come from farms, discovery channel documentaries (mild ones of course), National Geographic, our hunting relatives (ick) and just truthfully answering questions without using inflamatory language, but also without dumbing it down "to protect them" from what is essentially a fact of life.  

 

The other day at the dentist my 5 year old was looking at a fish tank in the waiting area with another kid who was also waiting...one of the fish was floating on top and the other kids said "Awwww, he's sleeping!"  My son responded "No.  He's dead." and the kid was crushed.  DS, on the other hand, just kept watching and smiling at the alive fish, swimming around.  DS is a VERY sensitive kid, my mom tried showing him "Air Bud" (which is a dumb kid's movie) and he cried HYSTERICALLY at the beginning when the dog is put in a cage (to be rescued later of course) but he knows everything dies, and that suffering is the real evil, not death, since death is part of life.  He may very well continue to be a meat eater, or he may decide not to be, but I know he has a strong concept of where food comes from and will be mindful about it.  

 

EDIT: (I will also add that they are HORRIFIED at some of the things they know about factory farms.  The oldest is 6 now, and knowing the facts of life did not keep them from eating meat or traumatize them, but it does seem to have made it harder to disconnect from the reality of how that meat gets to the store.)

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#11 of 11 Old 12-22-2010, 12:02 PM
 
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Yes, I would not count on the cuddle factor being a deterrant to meat eating, esp. when it comes to really young kids.  We have always been very honest with our kids about where meat comes from, which meant that then I had to deal with lots of wondering aloud of "Mmmm, I wonder what that squirrel would taste like?"  "Wow, that bunny is sooo cute, I wonder what it would be like to eat bunny. Could I still keep the fur?" (Kind of embarassing being said in the middle of a crunchy mama-and-kid nature group...ummm)   My children certainly did not win any Empath of the Year awards esp. when they were toddlers and preschoolers.  I find that now my soon-to-be-nine year old is asking more questions and chooses not to eat meat (though she does eat dairy and eggs), partially because of those concerns--but it really took her developing more empathy and (sadly in a way) becoming more detatched to the circle of life as matter of fact in order to get there.  My kids got more upset at the rabbits eating/killing the flowers they planted (and talked to, and sang to, and cared for) than they got upset at the concept of them eating a rabbit (perhaps because of the former?)  Perhaps my kids are just weird though.

 

One of my boys did grill a vegan friend (she was VERY gracious and sweet about it) about why it was okay to kill an individual plant for food but not an animal--he pointed out that animals reproduce too, and alot of plants you grow and then kill to eat.  It was a really fascinating discussion to listen to.  I think it really deepened my kiddos' understanding about our food choices (why we buy 90 percent of our food from local farmers/ranchers, because we know that the soil is being taken care of and the plants/animals are respected and cared for before/during/after harvest).  My friend mentioned that it was a really enriching discussion for her as well.

 

So, just a heads up, sometimes those conversations don't go quite in the way you expect.  Though lots of times that makes life a lot more interesting, in a good way.

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