Talking about Meat with preschoolers - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-13-2014, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi All.  My DS is nearly 3.5 and very inquisitive, articulate and scientific.  We are vegetarian (technically lacto/ovo/pescatarian, but we only eat a few fish species, local eggs, and very limited milk/butter). Anyway, DS has started asking why does Grandpa eat meat?  Why don't we eat meat?  Why does such and such eat animals?  I'm trying to come up with answers that don't scare him or inspire him to evangelize our choice at school and to my relatives.  I really want to avoid him feeling different (especially deprived) or self righteous. 

 

So I have started with saying it is a choice that adults make and when he is older and has enough information about meat he will make his own choice. So grandpa has the information, but he eats meat? I've mentioned that I like animals, but I don't like to eat them.  Also that some animals are not healthy for your body or for the earth.  But he is clearly not satisfied.  Any advice from seasoned veggie/vegan mom's.  I hope he will embrace our choice and I am lucky the DH and I are on the same page.  I also know plenty of mom's who were not able to sustain a vegetarian life for their children once b-day parties at McDonalds start.  Either way I feel like this is my opportunity to help him feel proud/good or at least understand.  What would you, or do you, say to your children?


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Old 01-13-2014, 05:14 PM
 
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I think you should give your child all the information you see fit and feed her at home what your serve. However, I think it is important to allow children to make their own choice. If she wants to eat meat at party of with her grandpa that is for her to deside.

 

I do not serve junk food in my house but my kids make their own choices outside my home.

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Old 02-04-2014, 11:30 AM
 
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Hello! I completely understand, I'm curious about this process goes for you. I have a 7mo old, so far from having these types of conversations with my DD, but I want to be prepared. I am also a vegetarian. Have you tried the book That's Why We Don't Eat Animals ( http://www.amazon.com/Thats-Why-Dont-Eat-Animals/dp/1556437854 ) . A vegan friend of mine recommended it to me. I haven't read it yet. Good luck and let us know how it goes! 

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Old 02-11-2014, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your reply. Still don't have a solution, i think it will evolve. Good luck to you.

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Old 02-15-2014, 11:58 PM
 
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I just sat my daughter  down and told  her the truth about meat. she is six years old. Also  dont  label your self as a vegetarian because they dont eat fish. 


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Old 03-04-2014, 02:48 PM
 
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We also are mostly-vegetarians who eat fish sometimes and other meats more rarely (usually when they're served at other people's homes).  This can be a bit harder to understand than 100% vegetarianism, but my son has caught on pretty well.

 

Think about which are your most important reasons: health, environment, animal rights?  Start from there.  For us it's more environment and health.  By 4 years old my son was able to understand that eating corn is a wiser use of our resources than feeding a lot of corn to a chicken until it grows up and then eating the chicken.  He also understood that meat contains some stuff that gets stuck in your blood vessels, so if you eat too much meat they can get blocked up so your blood can't get through.

 

He was 4 1/2 when Food, Inc. was in theaters and my friends were talking about it.  He insisted that he wanted to see it, even though I told him it would show "animal killing factories" and it would be gross.  We finally went.  He felt that the "humane" chicken operation might make safer meat, "But those chickens were saying, 'Ow! Ow! Ow!' too.  Eating chicken meat means a chicken got hurt."  He could see that the mainstream system raises sick animals and processes them in an unsanitary way.  He learned that it is possible for a cheeseburger to kill a little boy.  He learned a lot but was not traumatized.

 

He already had been critical of the low-quality food at his preschool, and we were sending a substitute food (beans or veggie burger) for him when they served meat.  We told him it is not polite to tell other people their food is bad, especially while they're eating.  Just say, "We don't eat chicken in my family."  At that age he needed a lot of reminders, and he did slip up a couple times and get into trouble for it, but we did our best to teach him good manners.

 

As for why Grandpa eats meat, we have explained that most people have been eating meat all their lives, so they are used to it, like the taste, and don't quite know what else to eat.  We can share our vegetarian food with them and encourage them to consider cooking these meals themselves sometimes, and maybe they will eat LESS meat.  Everyone makes their own choices, and we have to be polite even if we disagree, and try not to worry about them.


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Old 05-11-2014, 05:04 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katieraenall View Post
 

Hello! I completely understand, I'm curious about this process goes for you. I have a 7mo old, so far from having these types of conversations with my DD, but I want to be prepared. I am also a vegetarian. Have you tried the book That's Why We Don't Eat Animals ( http://www.amazon.com/Thats-Why-Dont-Eat-Animals/dp/1556437854 ) . A vegan friend of mine recommended it to me. I haven't read it yet. Good luck and let us know how it goes! 


Thanks for this recommendation! I have an almost-four year old son and I am vegetarian and recently cut back my own dairy & egg consumption that I am nearly vegan. However, my son still eats dairy and my husband, unfortunately, is a meat eater. It makes it extra complicated when Papa eats meat (he rarely does at home but when we go out or have friends over which is quite often), and of course meat is all over our culture and we know very few vegetarians. My son mostly loves the meat he's eaten. He knows meat is animals but he seems perfectly okay with eating a pig, cow or bird. I don't think his brain is developed enough yet to fully grasp what meat actually means. Also, I feel he's too young ~he is super sensitive~ to be informed of the horrors of factory farming, but when I feel he's ready I will certainly tell him and maybe even show him some videos. I myself am still traumatized by images and videos I have seen which can never be un-seen. Thus the main reason I am mostly vegan. So I want to be careful with what he sees when. I can only hope that I serve as a positive example and that as he gets older and his awareness expands, he will make conscientious choices about food. But it is a very tough situation and it really is extra hard when your parenting partner is not vegetarian. Thanks for starting this thread and I am curious what other people will reply, it's a tricky issue......


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Old 06-18-2014, 07:08 PM
 
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We do much like the OP. I have 2 boys, 8, 10 and 3 months. Our older boys know that some people eat animals, we always refer to it as "animals," NOT meat. We have told them that some people choose to eat meat and some dont (like us). We have never put down nor condemned people who eat meat, as their Grandparents do, who we are really close to, as well as other family/friends. Another amazing facet of it all is that we have had great conversations with my big kids about WHY we eat the way we do......they understand that "in the old days" people HAD to eat meat because that was all they had available to them.....they get that we have more choices now, and we are so lucky to have nutritious food available that is not meat When they are older, and if they choose to want to try it, they are free to do so. But honestly, at such a young age, I am not sure they are prepared to really make that choice. We have asked them a few times if they want to try, ALWAYS a resounding no for an answer. We have a fun and varied diet, and honestly they do not see the need for it.

A great book is "Benji Bean Sprout Doesn't Eat Meat" which is a kids book about a vegan family. Another fun one is "Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon," a fairy tale...but I think in reading these, it normalizes a veg lifestyle.

HTH!!
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Old 06-25-2014, 06:50 PM
 
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I am in the same boat. So I am here for advice too! I posted a thread in the main area...but I will copy it for here.
Here is my situation:
"Hello, I have been vegetarian for over 11 years now. I started when I was pg with my second child. I have 5 children now (pg with my 6th). All but my oldest, I had vegetarian for sometime (anywhere from 2 years to 6+ years). With each child the time has gotten longer. My two youngest ( ages 6 and 2) are still vegetarian and my others are not. Recently my 6 yo has been begging to eat meat (as she sees her siblings and dad eat it). I used to always say that once they asked (and understood) then we would talk about it and I would let them make their own decision. I don't think she fully understands, although I have explained it (somewhat) to her and she says she understands. I have thought about showing all of my children the process in which meat comes from....but I really don't want to scar them with such graphic images. But I am reasonably sure they would all be vegetarian after that. My dh is a meat eater and even though he doesn't give the vegetarians meat, he openly voices that he believes that they should be eating it. I jokingly say then that he should eat more veggies (which he hates) but he says at least he has the right to decide and that our kids should have that right too. I really don't want them eating meat! Am I just being selfish or a bad parent?
I do know with my 3rd child (the last one I let eat meat), even after I let him decide (at maybe 4 or 5) he didn't want it for a long time. But finally his dad and siblings kind of badgered him into it and now he is a big meat eater. My oldest child who I never had vegetarian, has recently decided that she doesn't prefer meat in most instances....although she still likes meat based gravies and things like ravioli (not that she has it much) ....but as for just eating a hunk of meat or even meat on a pizza, she doesn't want it. She is 12 and I think finally is starting to get it....without me forcing her. It would not surprise me if she ends up entirely vegetarian at some point by her own choice. The surprising thing is that she knows how supportive I am of being vegetarian, but yet she hasn't talked to me about her decision. I really wish she would...maybe I should start the convo? The only way I know she doesnt want to eat meat is because when I offer it to her, she declines.

A part of me wishes I never gave up on my two other older children being vegetarian......but the past is past. I just hate getting made to look like a bad parent because I don't allow my two youngest to eat meat. But in reality, I would be just fine with them all being vegetarian....but I think it would almost take a miracle for that to happen! I will say that I don't make a lot of meat in the house.....most of our options are vegetarian friendly...such as a lot of pastas and cheese pizza. I typically only make meat maybe once or twice a week.....and typically it is chicken. Beef rarely enters our house and neither does pork. Maybe if I just start to phase it out completely, no one will notice...lol. Although there are only so many variations of pasta that one can eat before they want something else! lol"

I know one of the biggest reasons why I am a vegetarian now is because as a child I would see what my dad hunted and killed. Even though I would shield my eyes, I would still catch some of the horrifying process. I would basically lock myself in my room until I knew for sure they were done....and hope I wouldn't stumble in on the process. But even so it wouldn't keep the nasty sounds and smells from seeping into my "safe" zone. Some smells (like plastic zip lock bags) still trigger those horrifying memories! It seriously bothered me and even then I refused to eat things that he killed. As a teen, I temporarily went veg because of what I learned in science about how the meat can have parasites and of course bacteria. That only last a few months but just a handful of years later and I was full blown vegetarian and have been since. Thankfully my husband isn't into hunting or fishing, so my my kids haven't hunted or really fished much. But my side of the family is, so they have taken them fishing, turtle, and frog hunting...but thankfully not but once or twice....and I quickly put a stop to that once I found out!

Even while typing this (my daughter is eating) she brought up wanting to eat meat. Thankfully it is just us vegetarians home, so I felt like I could have a good conversation with her. I think the biggest reason why she wants to is because she doesnt want to feel different...plus she wants to explore the unknown. I told her all about meat and I still don't think it helped 0~0 The interesting thing is that she actually likes the vegetarian food that I make! Like tonight, she ate at least 2 big bowls of soup!
I think I am going to try to do a week completely meat free foods and see if anyone misses it...and try to make that last as long as possible =S The problem is that two of my kids and my hubby don't like most veggies (unless pureed in where they cant see them). So that really limits my family options.

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Old 06-27-2014, 09:36 AM
 
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BlessedOne, I really empathize with your story. I don't see why you should cook any meat at home. If they want it, they can cook it themselves and eat it elsewhere! Also, it sounds like your 12yo could be helpful as a role model to the younger ones.

I have given my 9yo some of the gory details and encouraged him to at least be aware of what he is eating and what it means for his health, the environment, and the lives of animals. I wrote about this above and also expanded it into an article:
http://articles.earthlingshandbook.o...g-to-children/

There are lots of vegetarian meals other than pasta and pizza! Does your family eat beans at all? I have lots of vegetarian recipes on my site.

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Old 06-27-2014, 04:03 PM
 
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Thank you so much! Some of us like beans and some of us don't. That is the issue, some of the big meat eaters HATE veggies......so that is why we have so much pizza and pasta. We also do mashed potatoes, corn (only veggies some of the meat eaters will eat) with a meat for the meat eaters. But that leaves my younger ones just eating corn and potatoes (without gravy). My husband does like rice, but I haven't found any good ways to make it that he would eat it for the main part of the meal without meat.
Here are my go to meatless meals for the family (although I don't eat most of them because I don't eat the same kind of cheese that my family does)
-cheese lasagna
-cheese tortillas (my hubby prefers his with chicken too..but kids are fine without)
-spaghetti (or whatever type of pasta) with marinara sauce
-fettuccini alfredo (my hubby likes chicken in his, but I don't always put it in...my kids are fine without and some even prefer it without)
-cheese pizza
-macaroni or shells and cheese
-enchiladas (cheese for the vegs and chicken for the others...but honestly everyone except my hubby would be fine without the chicken)

For me and the two vegs, I make meals that are more vegetarian friendly....but the big meat eaters of the family wouldn't eat them.

Basically my hubby doesn't like veggies...except potatoes and corn.
My oldest child is fine with veggies and doesn't prefer meat in most instances.
My oldest son likes meat, but many times is fine without it and he does like veggies.
My middle son hates veggies and likes meat....but the above options he is fine without meat.
My youngest daughter is veg (but wants to eat meat).
My youngest child doesn't typically care, but I keep him veg. He is happy as long as he is eating what everyone else is eating. But he doesn't prefer most fruits or veggies unless they are pureed.

And then there is me who is a lacto vegetarian (but I only eat rennet free cheese and non fortified milk from a local dairy) and try to eat food without fortification and preservatives.

I will take a look at your site. Thanks!
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Old 06-30-2014, 11:07 AM
 
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If you keep trying new bean recipes with different flavors, you may find some that the whole family likes...and even if not, you may find more meat alternatives for the vegetarians to eat with the corn and potatoes! Try this
http://articles.earthlingshandbook.o...baked-lentils/
A lot of omnivores like it, and it is so easy to put together that you could make it at the same time as you are cooking meat. (The hour of baking is not so great for summer, though.)

We really like this nut and mushroom burger that is vegan but tastes surprisingly like ground beef:
http://mysisterspantry.wordpress.com...veggie-burger/

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