Divorced and hubby eats meat (thus kids do when with him) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 01-24-2012, 06:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi all.... I've been a back and forth vegan for years... and over the past six months have made the transition back to being vegan and plan to stick with it forever. I feel very strongly about this for myself. 


I'm divorced, and my children are ages 5, 4, and 2. Not quite old enough to 'choose' what to eat themselves, especially from a philosophical standpoint. 


My problem is this:: I can't force my ex to feed my children vegan food. So, they will not be growing up completely vegan. They'll only eat vegan in my house. I'm sure they'll resent me for it at some point... sigh....

I'm just wanting to know how best to try to, well, explain why at home we don't eat animals or animal products, and get them tobe happy with that and want to be vegan without pushing it down their throats?


Thanks :/

me, dd1, dd2, ds, and #4 due March 1. dbf has 2 of his own, so it will be an adventure!

i like making things. 

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#2 of 10 Old 01-24-2012, 10:56 PM
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I've been pretty heavy handed with my son. "I don't think the chicken wanted to be eaten." He's 6 and seems to choose the vegetarian lifestyle for animal rights reasons. He has always had cheese. Now that our daughter and i have gone dairy free (100% for her, 75% for me,) I am trying to convince my son dairy is not okay from the cows' perspective. He's not interested in hearing it. 


I'm a stepmom. Divorce is awful. The best thing you can do is just live your life and ignore what happens when the kids are not with you (unless it is TRULY a safety thing, though that is pretty rare.) 


Just get through this period. When the kids are older they will decide what they want to do. If they want to be veg*n, they will know how. If they don't, then at least you showed them the option.


I recently got this book for our kids. Our 3 year old asks for it over and over again. http://www.amazon.com/Hey-Little-Ant-Phillip-Hoose/dp/1883672546/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327474472&sr=8-1

Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#3 of 10 Old 01-25-2012, 03:26 AM - Thread Starter
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thanks so much! that's great advice. and thanks for the book rec. I'm going to check that out right now :)

me, dd1, dd2, ds, and #4 due March 1. dbf has 2 of his own, so it will be an adventure!

i like making things. 

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#4 of 10 Old 01-27-2012, 11:28 AM
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That sucks!  I think you just have to let it go, though.  It is your responsibility to do what you believe is ethically right (for the animals, and for your children's health), in your home, but I would advise against putting pressure on yourself to make your children prefer your food to their father's all the time.  You can make the food extra yummy, serve it in fun ways (on fun plates, in fun shapes, etc.) and find fun vegan-themed activities like visiting an animal sanctuary.  Still, kids are largely amoral, and if they happen to prefer Dad's eggy brownies to your vegan brownies, that's just the way it will be.  They may prefer your waffles or your tofu hoagies.  It is very hard to convince a child to choose an ethical system over taste, and it is probably the case that some vegan foods taste better than some non-vegan ones, while the reverse is true in other cases.


My observations about children being amoral come from my work with them as a nanny.  When they notice that I'm vegan, they sometimes ask why, and I say, "Because I care about animals."  On at least one occasion, the child has said something like, "Oh, well, I don't."  Of course, I didn't press the point much because they were not my kids, and it is also the case that the kids happened to like some of my vegan food, just because it is tasty.  Beyond veganism, I have also observed that kids are typically quite ready to have others sacrifice enormously just so they can benefit in some small way.  They can be taught good behavior, but I'm not sure to what extent they can be taught to internalize the accompanying morality.  If there is a way (that is healthy and still allows for intellectual freedom), I want to learn it.

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#5 of 10 Old 01-27-2012, 01:50 PM
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I can share my memories of school lunches... I ate them 5 days a week, but do I crave them now?  Nope.  Do I cook them for my kids or myself?  Nope.  But guess what--I base my ideas about healthy and tasty eating on the foods we had at home growing up.  Even though I had nearly a third of my meals at school.

This situation is a little bit different, because you are talking about the father not a school... but my guess is that mom spends more time in the kitchen than dad in most cases, and the kids will remember and try to imitate your cooking the most, as long as you keep a relaxed attitude about it!  That is not an expert opinion, just what I believe!

Of course, if your ex happens to be a good cook and spends a lot of time in the kitchen (but is not vegan) that's not a bad thing.. it means they are getting healthy meals even if non-vegan.  And that can only be a good thing.  You are still having a huge impact on their diet and the environment by serving them vegan when they are at home. 

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#6 of 10 Old 02-23-2012, 07:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for these responses. I really appreciate it! It's funny, because the four year old is the one who won't eat meat at their dad's... they've asked why i don't eat meat, and rather than go into a hundred different reasons, I repeatedly just say, 'because i don't want to hurt animals'. so, my four year old won't eat meat because she 'doesn't want to hurt animals'. And she isn't sad about it, just recognizes it. My ex is actually a GREAT cook, and we share a lot of similar ideals about food (limited processed items, high vitamin content, etc....) so it is good in that sense:) I think I will just keep talking about why 'we don't eat meat at mommy's'... and let them make choices down the line. 

me, dd1, dd2, ds, and #4 due March 1. dbf has 2 of his own, so it will be an adventure!

i like making things. 

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#7 of 10 Old 02-23-2012, 07:41 PM
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Same situation here.  I've been a vegetarian for a LONG time, since before my children were born.  It's all they've ever known.  My exhusband is omni and so that's the way our daughters eat at his house.  It's never really been a question in their minds.  I think it's just one of those things that's different at mom's house vs dad's house.  The basics are the same, "love your sisters, love your family, love yourself.  respect everyone."  Everything kinda boils down to that, ya know?  But the little things are different between the houses and kids eventually sort out what's okay and what's not.  It's okay to read books in bed at mom's house but when dad says bed, he means business and you better not be caught reading.  It's okay to eat pizza with pepperoni at dad's house that we order from Domino's but at moms we eat homemade pizza with a salad on the side or veggies on top.  At dad's we watch tv nearly constantly.  At mom's we watch a movie every few days only.  And they get used to that and it's not really a question why.  I suppose if they asked I would tell them that mom and dad choose to eat differently.  Mom doesn't like meat and doesn't want to eat any animals and dad thinks animals taste good and wants to eat them.  End of discussion.  It's not bad either way.  


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#8 of 10 Old 02-24-2012, 05:40 AM
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I have many friends who are vegan and vegetarian but unfortunately I do not know many friends who have families that are vegan. It is always good to be open and transparent with your children. Don't push the idea down their throats but constantly remind them why you are vegan and why their father isn't. Don't tell them that's he's 'bad' but if you strongly believe they should life a vegan lifestyle in his household, it is something you should discuss with him because the last thing you want is your children to be confused.


Although I can't say this, but I feel that for children growing and developing, dairy calcium and protein should be part of their diet. So if they are able to consume alternative foods to compensate for meat and diary then that's good. Just be aware that if they don't, maybe it's better if they were just vegetarian?


Don't want to say it's what you should be doing but just some advice :)

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#9 of 10 Old 02-24-2012, 05:54 AM
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Here's a purely hypothetical question:  would it be easier on your mind if your x was vegan, but fed the kids mostly processed, junky versions of vegan foods; or omni, but fed them a well balanced, whole food diet? 

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#10 of 10 Old 02-24-2012, 02:32 PM
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All you have to do is make sure your kiddos understand why you're vegan and why you'd like it if they are vegan too. The way you do that is by explaining vegan things to them in age-appropriate ways and also by showing them age-appropriate movies, books, etc.


For example, if you can take them to visit a farmed animal sanctuary, DO IT! This will help your children get to know farmed animals like cows, chickens and pigs and see for themselves how the animals have different personalities and how much they want to live. When they hear the animals' stories from the tour guide your children will learn about the cruelties of factory farming and what they can do to end it. Here is a list of American sanctuaries for farmed animals: http://www.farmanimalshelters.org/links.htm


Another example is to read veg-friendly books to them. Some suggestions: Herb The Vegetarian Dragon, Granny Gomez & Jigsaw, That's Why We Don't Eat Animals, Victor's Picnic: With the Vegetarian Animals... The list goes on. You can find books and read book reviews from a veg prespective online here: http://vegbooks.org/


Here are two blog posts about the ways you can teach your children vegan values so they can grow up to respect animals, the planet, and their health:




And please, please, please, hook up with some veg families in your area and spend time with them (with and without your kids). This will help you feel supported  and get some ideas of how to encourage your kids to learn about vegan issues. And when your kids are visiting, being able to spend time with other kids who eat plants will make the idea seem more appealing and acceptable. You can find some veg families by checking out meetup.com or even on facebook there are groups for veg families.


Remember that it's not about whether Mom's right or Daddy's right about how we eat. Your job is simply to fully and truly educate them so they can make their own choices. Speak up and educate your kids! Sadly, so many parents never teach their children the truth about where meat comes from nor do they explain that humans can live just fine without eating animals. You won't let that happen. You will explain to your kids that not only is veganism healthy but it's also better for animals and the planet too. Luckily, if you do your job well then your kids are very likely to choose to follow your path. And even if they don't go all the way and eat vegan 100% of the time, they'll be far more likely to eat plants more often than not as well as to seek out more "humane" products.


Either way, the simple rule of vegan eating at Mom's house is no big deal. Just enforce it with gentleness and everything will be fine :)


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