Raising vegan/vegetarian children and issues associated - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 33 Old 04-12-2004, 04:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How do u guys handle it if ur dc asks about eating meat??? do u believe u have more issues raising a vegetarian/vegan child than do omnis?? if so what are some of those issues


I think its harder for vegetarians to raise veg kids cuz its not the "norm" and ppl have soo much wrong info out there its really annoying... like thinking u can only get calciyum from drinking milk or our protein must come from majority soy...

My dc always pretends shes eating meat but wont touch it IRL has anyone elses kid tried this??

Seperated, Cape Dress Wearing, Covered, Conservative Mennonite Mama to big girl K.
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#2 of 33 Old 04-12-2004, 04:22 PM
 
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I'm not veg, but my dd is. She is also allergic to dairy milk and all products from it. It's difficult for us to get people to understand that she can't eat ANY diary, and that we really do need to check EVERYTHING. We also find that when we are invited to dinner, she is often leftout or offered side dishes only. Luckily she does eat fish and eggs- I can't imagine trying to eat out somewhere if we couldn't get her fish and chips or scrambled eggs.
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#3 of 33 Old 04-12-2004, 04:38 PM
 
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I am vegetarain (ovo/lacto) and am raising my kids veggie as well. I personally haven't experienced many issues with this. Of course my DD is still mainly breastfed at this point.
Anyway, I have a great pediatrician who fully supports me. A few members of the family (mainly my ILs) had questions about the diet - they were worried DH wasn't getting enough protein : But I assured them that I have been vegetarian long enough to know good alternate protein sources, and let them know my ped was totally ok with the diet - of course my ILs trust the ped more than they trust my word. : (again!)

I'm fully prepared to face more issues when the kids get a little older. For instance, DSalready asks why he can't eat meat when he sees others eating it - at big family dinners for isntance. I also know it is going to come up when they start school and notice their lunches are "different" from everone elses. There are also things like birthday parties and playdates to consider, where it is probably common to serve the kids hot dogs or pepperoni pizza. I'm fully prepared to explain to my kids that we choose to eat a different way than a lot of people, that we do not eat animals. I don't intend to go into a whole gory lecture on the subject though. I will just say different people eat different things.
DH and I haven't quite figured out what to do when/if they ask to actually TRY meat though. Maybe we'll be lucky and that topic won't come up! :LOL
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#4 of 33 Old 04-12-2004, 08:38 PM
 
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Good thread, Tricia.

We don't have kids yet but plan to tell them early why we eat the way we do, explaining it more fully as they get older. Although we enjoy the health benefits of being vegan, we do it for the animals, so our food isn't so different from "regular" omni food. I will call ahead to parties my child is invited to, and send along a vegan version of what they're serving, so he/she doesn't look too different or feel left out. I grew up almost vegan and had many allergies, so I know what it is like to miss out on things. However, every kid has to miss something or be teased about something and it didn't cause any problems, or any emotional consequences. I was also good at explaining why I couldn't have things.

Might my kids try meat or eggs or milk anyway "just to see", like I tried some cheese once knowing I was allergic? Sure they might. I won't be angry with them. I'll just remind them why we don't eat it and explain that when they grow up, they can choose as adults what to eat.

I hope that my children will remain vegan when they grow up, but I can't be sure. No one can be sure that their children will retain the values their parents have modeled for them. But we hav to do our best, what we think is right for them as childrn, and then hopefully accept their decisions as adults. (Unless they are dangerous ones, like drugs, etc.)

Emily

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#5 of 33 Old 04-13-2004, 12:57 PM
 
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Hi there! My son is only 13 months so our issues w/ him knowing the difference in his diet vs anothers are not happening yet. We have another vegetarian family in our play group (kids are 5, 3, 16ms) and I really love the way their raised. They are aware that others eat meat and know WHY they DON'T. They're not kept in the dark about anything. I think that it is (will be) easier to raise a vegetarian kid from birth then to switch things up later in their childhood when they've already NUMBED themselves to eating another's life. JMO. It may be more difficult in the beginning to raise a vegetarian child. But the issues between vegetarian children and omnis become more "health related" later in life and that seems more difficult to me in the long run!

Kimberley




Quote:
Originally posted by tricia80
How do u guys handle it if ur dc asks about eating meat??? do u believe u have more issues raising a vegetarian/vegan child than do omnis?? if so what are some of those issues


I think its harder for vegetarians to raise veg kids cuz its not the "norm" and ppl have soo much wrong info out there its really annoying... like thinking u can only get calciyum from drinking milk or our protein must come from majority soy...

My dc always pretends shes eating meat but wont touch it IRL has anyone elses kid tried this??
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#6 of 33 Old 04-13-2004, 04:06 PM
 
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My dd is 25 mos and she is an ovo/lacto vegetarian (dairy=only a little cheese). Up until recently she had been pretty unaware that her diet is different from other members of the extended family (shared household). Recently, however, she has taken notice of others eating "chicken", "ham", and "turkey" and has, on occasion, asked to have some, as well as asking to eat some "cat" and "dog"! :LOL (I just love a child's rationale).

Now that I have to broach this subject, I am also interested in advice.

I usually talk about the food we eat from a health and nutritional standpoint (i.e. "no, we can't eat grandma's strawberries because the have been sprayed with chemicals, but you can have these organic ones that are better for you..."). I talk alot about where food comes from--how it's grown/processed/packaged/shipped...

In response to her meat question I just tell her that we don't eat animals and haven't elaborated much beyond that.

It has been hard to get my family to understand our food preferences (and allergies, dd to corn) but they are finally starting to respect them--a little :
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#7 of 33 Old 04-13-2004, 06:47 PM
 
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My son is five and Vegan. He knows that we don't eat animals.
He has never asked to eat meat, but if he does one day that will be his choice.

There are so many vegan options out there now that he has never been excluded from having things that other kids get, like soy icecream, vegan cookies, cakes. I am lucky he eats almost everything that my dh and I eat, he loves veggies and fruit.

He recetnlty told me he doesn't want to eat chicken because there are no happy chickens that are raised to be turned into meat!

I told him they ARE the meat and that people call animals different names when they eat them, like ham, bacon, beef and not "pigs "and "cows". It is amazing how sensitive and aware of animals, and their feelings he is. I have heard him say "we don't eat animals" and I am very proud of him for that.



peace kathleen

There's nothing you can know that isn't known. ~ John Lennon
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#8 of 33 Old 04-13-2004, 07:26 PM
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I'm very interested in hearing other comments on this, too!

My husband eats anything, I'm primarily veg (ovo-lacto), and we have two kiddos, 2.5yo and 5yo. They are seriously ovo-lacto veg, too.

My reasons for eating veggie are health-oriented, tinged by animal respect. So I will occasionally eat a burger or something if I get a craving, but that's few and far between. When I tracked my eating, it was a few times a year.

I have all along used the same reasoning to explain why we do anything differently than xyz person (or a whole community!) ... "everyone does things differently, here's why we do this."

I toss in things along the way, not in a mean way, but a normal way. Like identifying the "poor dead fish" at the grocery store. Or making sure my girls know where things come from. Not just that ham=pig, beef=cow kinda things, but they also know about how veggies grow, etc. It's been interesting to note that by using real names and sources, my kids are much less interested in eating things like meats. Addie has been surprised by how many of her friends don't know where their food comes from.

My 5yo can explain in detail more nutritional stuff than her grandparents or friends understand! It's hilarious and wonderful to hear her explain to her grandma that eating butter all the time isn't good for her heart, or that your body can get lots more vitamins and nutrition from xyz food. At least she's finally learning how to explain it more gently.

That said, I've let my 5yo taste meat a few times after her 3rd bday, just a date I chose to make sure she had a good start. She wanted to taste ham (too salty) and turkey (yuck) at a holiday meal. She has occasionally tasted her dad's chicken (that's the hard thing to get past--dad's eating when we go out). When I allow this, it's planned and discussed, not under any pressure, and not with friends or anything like that.

I think the biggest thing is that I'm pretty relaxed about our eating habits. So none of us get terribly tense when people question it. Confidence rubs off on kids, I think. We eat well and often at home, the girls and I eat veg even at restaurants or visiting friends ... it's just a given, like wearing shoes or combing their hair. It's just normal for them.

Since I eat this way mostly for health reasons, it might be different for us. But I figure if I totally restrict her from trying a few things, she'll want them more. So I let her try it every now and again, explaining that it's not good to do very often. If we ate meat or cake or, well, anything all the time, it wouldn't be good for our bodies. She's totally bought in, but then, she's only 5. :-)

P.S.
After all that typing, I just realized that everything I've said really applies to my 5yo. My 2yo has never even asked! She knows we don't eat meat, but she's shown zero interest in what anyone else eats ... as long as there's food on her plate, she's happy!

-dianna, who came out here just for this thread and can't believe she wrote a book in answer! sorry.
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#9 of 33 Old 04-13-2004, 07:32 PM
 
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I don't know how much I can help but here is our situation:

I am ovo/lacto veg, my dh is not.

We have decided that dd needs to make her own choice. We will of course explain to her why mommy is veg, and then she can make her own decision.

She is 21 months and so far has very little interest in meat. She will eat deli ham or turkey or a bite of tuna, on the few occassions my dh eats them. But for the most part, she likes her veggies and LOVES her pasta.

I'm glad that dh and I have this arrangement, because I want to model for dd that we all have different choices and lifestyles and that is okay. We CAN co-exist and respect each other.

Loon

Loon , dh , dd , and twins ds1 dd2 **Thoughts become things. - Mike Dooley**
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#10 of 33 Old 04-13-2004, 07:39 PM
 
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I didn't get a chance to read all the replies, so hopefully I'm not repeating much....I was raised vegetarian, which seemed much less common in the small towns I was raised primarily in, so I felt different a lot of the time (and ate a lot of cheese! And vegetarian lasagne!) However, I was always proud to be different, and didn't find it difficult at all. And now it's so much easier with all the different options, like fake pepperoni pizza's, and tofu dogs for birthday parties, etc! I find the kids don't even notice that the hot dogs are tofu, they just gulp them down. Also, as I got older, many of the parents would comment on how healthy I always was, and looked, so I guess they began to see the benefits of my healthy diet (not just veggie, but lots of beans, greens, eggplant, tofu, brown rice, etc) As for my kids, my dh and I now eat a lot more white meats then I did growing up, though we'll also eat lots of veggie and vegan meals, and the kids eat what we're eating/willing to cook. If we're out and about, or they're at friend's houses, they can eat what they want, and so I know my oldest daughter has eaten red meat on a few occassions. One friend was eating a hot beef sandwhich on a picnic, my daughter asked for a bite, and then just kept on going back for more and more, juices running down her chin and all!!!! She LOVED it!!!! And I think being vegetarian or not is a choice she needs to make for herself over time!!!!!!

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#11 of 33 Old 04-13-2004, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by peacenlove
"we don't eat animals"
peace kathleen
My 5 yr old dd says that exact same line.... :LOL


She asks all the time is this vegetarian?? or she will tell them... does this contains animals??

When we go to the grocery store or farmers market she doesnt like looking at the meat or seafood at all... and on occasion she looks like she is gonna cry.... we went to the farmers market on last sat to meet the bunny that paints faces and she saw a rabbitt carcass (dont know any other word) and she asked what it was so i told her it was a rabbitt and she freaked out..asking y ppl would eat cute little rabbits...

its funny cuz she wont ever want to eat meat IRL and yet every so often she pretends too.. but i have heard her saying its pretend meat or veggie meat...

and i think for going vegan overnight dd is doing quite well with the change.. she and i have only been vegan since sept 30 of last year... and now my dad is looking more into it cuz he sees the health benefits.. altho he wont give up meat... he will consider buying organic free range humanely killed meat which is better than factory farming...

Seperated, Cape Dress Wearing, Covered, Conservative Mennonite Mama to big girl K.
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#12 of 33 Old 04-13-2004, 09:38 PM
 
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My dd (she's 7) has never asked to eat meat and is turned off by the thought of it. We have always just been honest and told her meat is dead animal, which ever animal the meat happens to be we tell her. We do the same with our son and he is now starting to recognize what is meat. While they are young they will not eat meat but of course as they get older it is their choice.
The life lobsters at the grocery store really upset my dd. She feels so sad for them.

OUR DAUGHTERS ARE PROTECTED SHOULDN'T OUR SONS BE TOO! :
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#13 of 33 Old 04-13-2004, 11:57 PM
 
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I have been vegetarian for 12+ years and recently started eating some fish for health reasons. We were vegan until my son was 3 and we started incorperating fish and eggs. We were very open with him from the beggining about why we make the food choices we do and he knows that animals are generally mistreated before they become someones "dinner". He always tell people that animals are his friends, thats why he wont eat them. He does like to pretend that hes a carnivorus Dinosaur at meal time and eat his Triceratops meat (Baked Sweet Potatoe...Sliced red pepper are there tongues! LOL) But he also likes to be Herbavore Dinos and eat Trees A.K.A. asparagus, brocolli, salad.
Anyway, I like to stay open minded and give him the choice. Although he has never had meat besides fish, he is free to try some if he ever gets curious....of course I will be saddened, but I dont want him to have any hang ups about food/nutrition and one day have a completely Junk food diet. I was worried about parties and school but so far we havent had a problem. He chooses healthy snacks and we make sure has eaten before parties we know there will be little for him to eat. His teacher tells me he asks what is in everything at snack time and makes very careful choices. Hes not picky...just aware. At Easter Grandpa got them both baskets chock full of junk...I was prepared to let them try a bit but neither of them wanted any...River put his basket on the counter and grabbed the bag of almonds the easter bunny left him. Proud parent moment!!
I think its all a matter of how we as parents aproach the issue. If we dont make it a big deal yet still educate our children on why we may do things differently, they wont feel weird or left out. They will in the long run become well rounded, open minded individuals who know there isnt just one way to do things!
Whew...sometimes I can be long winded when you get me on a topic I enjoy!! :LOL
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#14 of 33 Old 04-15-2004, 10:05 PM
 
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i'm so glad i found this thread! we are ovo-lacto too, although much of our diet is vegan we are not committed (LOVE yogurt, and not the soy kind! and mainstream ice cream...oh, yum).
my DS (age 3) also pretends to eat meat. he calls the fake stuff "soy meat". he says "soy bacon" or sometimes "fake bacon". we do eat the analogs sometimes, and i made sure he says those things cause i don't want him going to someone's house and asking for bacon, only to get the real thing!
i don't know what i will do when faced with him wanting to try real meat. i also feel that he should have a choice to try it, but i don't want him wanting a habit of it till he's much older and capable of making that choice! if that made sense. i mean, i know he has choices now, but he's only 3 and it is my responsibility to make most choices for him for a long time, kwim?
that said, i still have no good reason (in his eyes) for why we don't eat meat. we've gone over it ad nauseum. i say "we don't eat animals"
"why not?"
i say "i don't believe killing animals for food is a good thing"
"why not?"
"i don't want to hurt them"
"i do!"
yet, he does not eat meat if faced with it. he says "we are vegetarians!" (proud mama moment for me too!).
i think he is just focusing on the things we do not do, cause he's a kid and kids are rebellious? like, he says things like "don't do that or i will kill you!" if he's angry; i think he thinks he is going to push my buttons that way. he knows how i feel about guns, so he points things at me and pretends to "shoot" me. i am rattled, but try not to show it. i think he's just testing.
we also provide veg versions of mainstream foods where it is necessary. thank the gods there are such things as vegetarian spaghettiO's and No-Chicken Noodle soup and ABC's & 123's!!!

blessings,
pamela
mama to beautiful DS rio, age 3

Me treehugger.gif Handfasted wife to M  geek.gif as of 3/7/10 , and Mama to R  reading.gif (1/31/01) luxlove.gif

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#15 of 33 Old 04-16-2004, 04:05 AM
 
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You guys are so great to be able to stick to a vegan diet or even a vegetarian diet. Before our little guy was born we ate very, very little meat. (I can be so good until I'm told I can never have something, then I go bonkers from the desire of ....)
However, since he has begun eating, his diet of choice is dairy, meat, eggs and wheats (pasta, bread, etc.) I always offer the vegetables, salads, tofu, (even with commercial ranch dressings which he seems to like) whatever mama and papa are having, but his favorites remain. We still nurse, so I am not concerned about his nutrition. Mama and Papa eat more vegetarian than he does. I'm hoping that as he grows older, his palate will grow to include other dishes. I'm open to suggestions.
In response to the original post, other friends whose chidren are grown, if one of the household parents was a vegetarian, then at least one of the children as an adult, made the same vegetarian choice that the parent had, even if the child was not raised strictly veg. That would tell me that regardless of the path travelled, the parent model serves more decisively.
And, another friend and his late wife raised their children on a very strict macrbiotic diet and both of his kids will not eat brown rice to this day. That tells me inflexibility alienates.
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#16 of 33 Old 04-16-2004, 11:01 AM
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I agree that inflexibility will send someone running the other way in many cases.

In our case, we don't make it a big deal ... just serve and offer what we serve and offer. My 5yo tasted so many things her first 2 years (back when I was in the kitchen daily! - gosh I miss those days) and has a much wider acceptance of foods than many kids. Her sister, my 2yo, has eaten out more and developed less adventurous tastebuds, I'm afraid. But not for the things we don't eat 'cause we just don't eat them.

They couldn't develop a taste for meats, butter, candy, etc. early on because we just didn't have them around. The trick is that we didn't make a big deal about avoiding them, really, just said what the available choices were.

I think exposure is the key. I read somewhere that tastes and diet are pretty strongly influenced in the first two/three years. An example was that kids in India often grow up enjoying curried foods, kids here burgers and fries, and kids elsewhere other things. Not because their tastebuds are different, but because they see, taste, and smell those things regularly from early on.

So our rule was no milk or candy or such for 2 years, period. (Meat was 3 years) No questions. My MIL was dying to give Addie ice cream, so she got to taste it on her 2nd bday. But we were very careful that it was a taste and not a big deal a la "finally! at last! isn't it wonderful?!??!" Nope, it was, "hey, wanna try something? It's something to have every now and then."

I make sure the girls have 3-ish chances to taste and try something new (given alongside familiar things) before I know that they don't like something. Few of us fall in love with new things immediately every time... some things are acquired tastes.

Later, they asked questions about things they saw. And we were very clear with grandparents about asking *us* before they offered things to the kids. That way there wasn't a lot of us saying "no" aloud, which might have influenced a strong desire for the kids to say "yes".

These notes weren't very organized ... sorry, I'm on the run. But thought it was worth mentioning availability vs. lack thereof.

-dianna
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#17 of 33 Old 04-16-2004, 03:57 PM
 
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I'm vegan and my dh is an omni. We raise the kids vegan until they start asking for stuff that isn't (ex: dh's macaroni&cheese). However, neither dh or I will give them meat, even if they ask for it. Ds is only 3 1/2 now, so maybe we would let him if he was older, but we haven't had to deal with that yet.

Ds is a pretty outspoken vegetarian though. We were in line at the grocery store and the woman behind us was getting eggs. He turned around and asked:
"Why you are getting eggs?"
lady- "I eat eggs"
ds- "I don't eat eggs. They are gross"

We had to have a little talk about manners at that point, but it did make me laugh for a minute.

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
14yo ds   11yo dd  9yo ds and 7yo ds and 2yo ds  
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#18 of 33 Old 04-16-2004, 06:49 PM
 
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Isses galore here in the Czech Republic. DH and I have been vegetarians for a long time, and it is getting to be less of a struggle than it once was. Still, there's the old "but of course you eat chicken and fish..." and people who know we don't eat MEAT routinely offer us soups cooked in broth or dishes fried with lard & etc. Having a child brings a whole new dimension, as most people think we are depriving him of vital nutrients, and that "imposing" our (weird, unnatural, decadent, Western, newfangled) diet on DS is bordering on child abuse. I ask them "If vegetarians are healthier and live longer than meat-eaters, what could he be missing?" But tradition is tradition, and meat eating is ingrained in this culture.

I had a row with DS's babysitter 2 weeks ago. She always tells me what she has prepared for him to eat, and what he eats. Usually this is "noodles with vegetables," "rice with vegetables" or "potatoes with vegetables." Well, we stopped over and she offered us a bowl of "rice with vegetables," and I found a big old piece of chicken in it!!! I said, "What's this, it's chicken isn't it? You know we don't eat meat." "But it's just chicken, you don't totally forbid that, do you?" I have always been 100% explicit with this woman about what is on and off our diet, and she KNOWS that I don't want Andrej eating chicken, even the ones she "organically" raises herself. She then dragged me into a long argument about whether I was nutritionally depriving my child, and we both got pretty steamed up. Generally I like this woman, and my son obviously enjoys being with her, but I am extremely frustrated with this situation, and only DH really sees my side. I should mention here that finding another babysitter isn't really an option, as we live in a village with 24 permanent residents, and all of them have the same ideas about nutrition. Furthermore, there is a little bit of an issue of respecting/obeying one's elders. Even if I am paying her to do a service for me, it is still just a little bit weird for a young mother to openly deny or reject an older (and much more experienced) woman's food, concept of health, way of life.

As for teaching Andrej our values, it's been simple so far. The rule goes "We don't eat creatures," and if I ask him "Do we eat ladybugs/newts/ducks, etc." He answers "No." "Why not?" "Creature." One time I saw him reach for somebody's meatloaf, and I had to tell him discreetly in English that it was POOP, because I didn't think he would believe it was once a CREATURE. That will take time and more language development.

I'm worried about when he goes to school, even the "alternative" Waldorf school, but I guess we'll deal with that when we get there. And then there is the stupid, stupid, stupid new fashion for kids' birthday parties at Mickey D's.

What do you mamas do about those parties?
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#19 of 33 Old 04-16-2004, 11:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by tricia80
How do u guys handle it if ur dc asks about eating meat??? do u believe u have more issues raising a vegetarian/vegan child than do omnis?? if so what are some of those issues


I think its harder for vegetarians to raise veg kids cuz its not the "norm" and ppl have soo much wrong info out there its really annoying... like thinking u can only get calciyum from drinking milk or our protein must come from majority soy...

My dc always pretends shes eating meat but wont touch it IRL has anyone elses kid tried this??
Hi! Just so you know, vegetarians do not eat fish. I would just say she only eats fish if someone askes if she's veg.
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#20 of 33 Old 04-17-2004, 12:41 AM
 
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We're lucky. Ds has never been the least bit interested in meat, even before he knew where it came from. He just always seemed to "know" something about it. Last year a neighbor was trying to convince him to try some turkey. Ds refused. The kid asked why. Ds, at age 4, responded with, "Well, once I learned about animals, I decided I want to protect them, not eat them." It was so cool.
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#21 of 33 Old 04-17-2004, 01:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally posted by vegiemom
Hi! Just so you know, vegetarians do not eat fish. I would just say she only eats fish if someone askes if she's veg.

huh :


my dd would stand up and say no she doesnt eat animals... so pretty much everyone in the free world knows we are vegan...


i started this thread to see if anyone has had issues raising vegan/vegetarian children... so far the only issue i have had is that my dd likes to pretend shes eating meat... but wont touch it if its offered and practically cries at the market when she sees dead animals... i think she does it to push my buttons or see my reaction.. when i stopped making faces she stopped pretending... :LOL

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#22 of 33 Old 04-17-2004, 08:59 AM
 
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Well, dh eats meat but I don't. Right now ds eats eggs & cheese occasionally. I don't know how I'll keep him a vegetarian when dh is eating stuff like (gag) steak tips. We'll see... Right now ds thinks eating animals is disgusting.
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#23 of 33 Old 04-17-2004, 04:03 PM
 
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Ds is 4 and has been great about embracing our vegan diet (the only one he's ever known). We've been caught out a few times where non-vegan treats were served, and so far, he's been happy to know he can have a treat when we get home. We went vegan for health reasons, so we're also into whole foods, organic, no trans fats - all these things are "different". No, we don't eat out!! Toss in EBF and homeschooling...let's just say, I hope ds learns at an early age to follow his heart and not the crowd!
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#24 of 33 Old 04-17-2004, 07:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally posted by callmemama
let's just say, I hope ds learns at an early age to follow his heart and not the crowd!
I hope dd is the same way... cuz we are definately not following the crowd either...

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#25 of 33 Old 04-18-2004, 02:52 PM
 
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My five year old dd has been vegan since birth.
I tried to educate her as she was growing up about why we ate the way we did...bought storybooks about vegetarian kids (like Victor the Vegetarian), and was open about how animals are raised and killed (I wasn't graphic, but I was honest). I also spent a lot of time talking about feelings, and talking about how different situations would make people feel (if she said something unkind to a friend, we would discuss how her actions made the other person feel) We also did the same thing for animals, and talk about how different situations make animals feel...how a circus elephant feels locked up in a cage all day long...how a baby cow feels when it is taken away from it's mother, and is all alone as a baby. She automatically thinks of things in this way now, and many people (her teachers, relatives, friends) have commented about how empathic and emotionally aware she is. She has embraced vegetarianism whole-heartedly, and I really believe it has a lot to do with teaching her to be emotionally aware of all living beings feelings. Up to this point, she has had no desire to eat meat. I cannot believe how easy it has been...I had anticipated struggles, but she makes such good choices herself. She asks people if foods they give her are vegetarian, has learned to read labels (or ask others to help her read labels), and is getting pretty knowledgable about hidden ingrediants such as gelatin. If something has animals in it, she willingly turns it down.
The one problem I have had is her intolerance of other people eating meat. She loves animals so much that it is very distressing for her to see friends and family members eating meat. The message "in our family, we believe it is wrong to eat meat, but other people get to make their own choices" was very difficult for her to comprehend. Last summer, she spent a weekend with my mother (her first time alone with grandma when I was not there). They went to the grocery store, and my mom bought some kind of meat, and dd glared at it and said "Dammit...meat!" I have never heard her swear before...I did not even know she knew that word!! It has gotten much better this year (after she turned five) and she is growing more tolerant of other's choices.
Christy
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#26 of 33 Old 04-18-2004, 09:48 PM
 
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<They went to the grocery store, and my mom bought some kind of meat, and dd glared at it and said "Dammit...meat!" >

***ROFL, now that is hilarious!! i bet your mom didn't think so, though...

<was open about how animals are raised and killed (I wasn't graphic, but I was honest)>

***i would be interested to hear the details, if you don't mind posting them. if you feel it's OT, my email is mercyn@earthlink.net . thanks in advance!

blessings,
pamela

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#27 of 33 Old 04-19-2004, 03:45 AM
 
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I am an ovo-lacto veggie although I rarely eat eggs or dairy. I quit dairy because dd was reacting to it in my breastmilk. DH is mostly veggie but occasionally eats seafood.

So even though dd is only one we have had some problems. Most of it has been at our church because people are just clueless. When we first started going there they invited us to a holiday dinner. We specifically asked them if there would be dairy-free and meat-free food and they said that there would be a lot of vegetables. Well, this is the South so I should have known better. All of the veggies had meat AND butter in them. It turned out there was one thing I could eat and it was a dessert.

The pastor there kept telling everyone in the church that dd was lactose intolerant (the guy has two Ph.D's but he just didn't get it). So these teen girls come up to me and ask how can dd eat if she's lactose intolerant. I explained that she was allergic and they said oh so does she drink goat's milk? I really can't believe that people are so clueless.

I left dd with my friend for an hour and she confessed that she almost fed her chicken then remembered at the last minute that we didn't eat meat.

This summer we are visiting my grandparent-in-laws and I don't know what we are going to eat. The last time we went we weren't vegetarians, but I was overwhelmed and sickened (literally) by the amount of meat served.
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#28 of 33 Old 04-19-2004, 03:51 PM
 
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indie,

We lived in the South for awhile and that was when I decided to *become* veg. Boy, was it tough. You are right: there meat and/or butter in EVERYTHING, even the vegetables. I had a tough time. At potlucks, I would bring veg dishes to share, such as pasta salads, split pea soups (made without any sort of ham), etc. People seemed to understand after much, much, repeated explaining to them.

I had some considerate friends, though. They threw me a going-away party when I left and everyone brought a veg dish to share at the party.

As far as the in-laws, when I visit them or even my parents, I offer to help cook some nights, and make at least one veg dish to share. Or if we have something like burgers and hot dogs, they are really good about getting me veg burgers or tofu pups, and I then I can eat the fries and salad with them.

I also try to make stuff in my own home that can have meat added to it, if my DH or any company want. For instance, I can make a mushroom barley soup, and some beef (cooked separately) can be added for the meat eaters. Also, pasta dishes where there is a meat sauce and a marinara sauce, etc.

It's tough, though. I certainly sympathize!

Loon

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#29 of 33 Old 04-20-2004, 09:48 AM
 
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"<was open about how animals are raised and killed (I wasn't graphic, but I was honest)>

***i would be interested to hear the details, if you don't mind posting them. if you feel it's OT, my email is mercyn@earthlink.net . thanks in advance!"


Sure....I would not mind at all!
My dd is five now, and she often asks questions about eating meat, dairy, and eggs. I try to answer her questions honestly, without shielding her from the truth (but leaving out the things that I think would be too much for her to handle). I have told her a simple explanation about factory farms (the animals are kept in very small cages, and they are not allowed to ever go outside to play in the grass or play with their friends). Now that she is getting older, I have shown her photos of factory farmed chickens and pigs locked in their cages, and of veal calfs tied up in little stalls (after she asked to see them, and I picked pictures that were not very graphic in nature). Little children are bombarded with the happy farm images of smiling animals running around free on a beautiful grassy farm, and I wanted her to know that this is not the reality. However, I would never show her pictures of slaughtered animals, or give her a graphic description of how they are killed with many details for that would be too disturbing for her....just saying "they are killed to make meat" is enough description for that. We also spent a lot of time processing the experience...how do you think the chickens feel if they never get to go outside? and personalizing it...how would you feel if you were locked in a little cage. We watch movies and read books that focus on how the animals feel in different situations. Babe and Charlotte's Web are both wonderful in that they look at the idea of killing a pig for meat through the pig's eyes. Hearing Wilber and Babe discuss how they are afraid of dying, and want to stay alive is very powerful. We are vegan, so I also try to focus on the "real purpose" (our personal belief) of foods such as eggs and milk. DD would tell others if asked that eggs are meant to grow baby chickens in, and milk is meant for nursing baby cows.

I wanted to add that this is all done naturally, over a long period of time. I don't shove information onto her, but try to give her good explanations when she approaches me about it. She is surrounded by non-vegetarians, so she approaches me often and has many questions!! And I have always only given her the information that I think that she is ready to handle, and this is different for all children. For some five year olds, this might be way too much info, but it is the perfect amount for my dd.

One more thing...rather than telling her all this sad information, and just leaving it at that, I try to empower her and give her ways that she can change things and make things better for animals. When we discussed how circus animals are treated, we went to several circus protests, and dd passed out animal rights brochures to the circus goers. When we talk about how animals are treated food-wise, I always give her the message that the food choices she makes are helping the animals, and give her other ways that she can make a difference.

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions!
Christy
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#30 of 33 Old 04-20-2004, 10:50 PM
 
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OMG christy, yes, i have more questions! i thought that would answer it, but just opened up more cans of vegan gummy worms, LOL!!

my son is 3. he does not understand what "killing" and "dying" and "dead'' and "alive" mean. how on earth can i explain it to him? he's very intelligent mostly, but i think this may just be a developmental roadblock. even if i showed him roadkill, i'm sure he would say "well, why won't it get up and breathe again?"

he is in a BIG "why" stage. so if i told him <(the animals are kept in very small cages, and they are not allowed to ever go outside to play in the grass or play with their friends)> he of course would say "why not?" and THEN what do i say?
"because of money, sweetheart" i don't think will cut it!
and he's also got this "anti" stage going, about killing and stuff. "i want XYZ to be killed" "i'm going to kill you if you don't get me that popsicle RIGHT NOW". it's not continuous, thank the gods, but i just kind of let it slide hoping it will go away. i don't want to focus on it, fearing it might get worse with attention. but i did, once, ask him, after he said he'd kill me, if he knew what killing meant. quizzical look-- "No"-- i said if you kill me i wouldn't breathe or move or get up or play with you anymore. "why not?" because when things are killed they never move again. "why not?" GRRR.....follow? ;-) it's FRUSTrating!

<I have shown her photos of factory farmed chickens and pigs locked in their cages, and of veal calfs tied up in little stalls (after she asked to see them, and I picked pictures that were not very graphic in nature). >

where did you find pictures of this sort, that were not very graphic in nature?

<how do you think the chickens feel if they never get to go outside? and personalizing it...how would you feel if you were locked in a little cage. >

this is great! but i really think my son is still too young yet to understand (personalize) this yet. drat! i know i won't remember it in 2 years!!

<I try to empower her and give her ways that she can change things and make things better for animals. When we discussed how circus animals are treated, we went to several circus protests, and dd passed out animal rights brochures to the circus goers. When we talk about how animals are treated food-wise, I always give her the message that the food choices she makes are helping the animals, and give her other ways that she can make a difference. >

yes, i'd like to explore this in greater detail. what ways can she change things? how can she make things better for animals? where did you get the info on circus animals that are age appropriate? can you get zoo examples too? my mom thinks i am too extreme, not wanting to "deprive" my son of those experiences. i just can't explain it; i do not want to take him to these places.
how do you give the message that the food choices she makes are helping the animals? what do you say? what other ways do you give her that she can make a difference?

sorry to bombard you...;-)
blessings,
pamela

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