how to explain to our child why we dont eat meat - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-25-2003, 08:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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my dd is just over 3 years. how do I explain to her we dont eat meat. she loves food and will eat all kind of food regardless what they are. she also still nurses too.

i am having hard time at events when other kids are there as she eats what they eat too. when they are given meat she copies them and grab the meat too. I can con trol more when the kids sit with adults but harder when she is with the kids. I explained to her we dont eat meat and give her the cucumber and cheese and bread that were offered on the table. she was so sad and kept looking at the meat slices and I could tell she wanted it. i explained that mommy and daddy dont eat meat. i dont even know if she knows that word and was not sure if she understood it as it was a new word for her.

other day we had a big event and she went to her friend seat and started to nibble off her friends plate (after having eaten her vegetarian dinner). My friend told me from other side of table that my dd was eating meat and asked me if my dd was vegetarian. I mentioned that she was and to please try to distract her from eating the meat. but it was to no avail.

any tips?

not sure how to explain to her and dont want to put others in awkward position at events etc and so forth.

thanks
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Old 04-25-2003, 09:18 PM
 
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Well, I haven't had to face this one yet myself but what about going to a farm or a petting zoo, petting the cows and saying "we don't eat cows, cows are our friends" and etc. for pigs, chickens, whatever. Make the connection that meat is a dead animal and it isn't nice to kill animals for food.

You might want to cross post on the Good Eating board; there are a lot of vegetarians and vegans who might have some other suggestions.

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Old 04-26-2003, 01:21 PM
 
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When I was in college I used to work at the very alternative co-op pre-school. All the families were vegan or vegetarian. These kids were obessesed with stuff like hamburgers. I think its merely a case of forbidden fruit. I don't know quite how to deal with it. But a trip to a zoo farm is prob a good idea.
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Old 04-26-2003, 08:40 PM
 
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Hello! I have three small children the oldest who will be four next month. Being a vegetarian is very important value in our family-we love animals we don't eat them. We teach our children that lots of people eat meat but our family does not. We explain why and answer all questions honestly and openly. We feel it isn't good for our bodies or kind to animals. Things we do that keep our kids from wanting meat is to offer meat substitutes when we are around other people who are eating meat. Veggie dogs, veggie deli slices. There really isn't much that you can't get a meat free substitute. Along with this we explain(discreetly) that our hot dogs are made from soy while the others are made from variuos animal parts...yuck! Our family takes pride in being vegetarians and it is definately reflected in our children. I seize every opportunity to explain where meat comes from -the grocery store, rotiserries,etc. I hope that I am teaching them to associate meat with an animal rather than something to eat. Another thing to watch out for-I don't know how strict you are but-gelatin in candy. Thats one that I feel I am fighting constantly. You can get a lot of candy without gelatin by reading labels-the healthfood store has good candy in the bulk section. When my children are about to reach for a jelly bean or a gummy worm I say, We don't eat that honey it has animals in it. We'll find you a different treat. Try to have something on hand-there are times when it's in my- not so comprehending- two year old's mouth before I can do anything about it. You can't avoid it 100%. If there comes a day when my children choose to eat meat(spending their own money) I will respect it as their own choice. I know this is really long-hope it helps. Good for you
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Old 04-26-2003, 10:28 PM
 
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Hi - we are also vegetarians - my 3 year old ds and I are vegans for the most part and my husband eats cheese and eggs. When DS was about 2 I explained to him gradually about why we eat the way we do - we love animals and eating meat hurts animals and he understands to the point where he gets upset when he sees people eat meat - he asks why do they want to hurt animals and it's hard to explain (hard for me to understand actually too) that some people don't think about or care that animals were hurt to provide their meat. He gets grossed out by the smell of meat cooking and this past weekend we were at my mom's house for easter and he was helping my mom make rolls that had eggs in them. He had had the same rolls the week before and didn't know they had eggs and at easter dinner time he asked for a roll and then said but they have eggs - I don't want to eat them with eggs and he wouldn't. I buy soy cheese and soy dogs and soy ice cream and we get awesome chinese food made with wheat gluten, and when we are at birthday parties I just don't tell him there's eggs and butter in the cake, because it's just a little and I don't want him to feel too left out. but I guess if he asked and got upset about eating it I'd bring a vegan cupcake for him. I think there are some kids books about being vegetarian, but most kids love animals and if you explain to your dd where meat comes from and how it hurts animals and show her pictures of the different animals that compose different meats, she might understand , especially if you bring along meat substitutes of whatever the meat being served is. Good luck!
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Old 04-27-2003, 01:49 AM
 
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We are vegetarians too. My daughter never has wanted to eat any meat. We were very open with her from a young age (she's 6 now) about why we don't eat animals. She started saying she was vegetarian when she was two (it was adorable to as you can imagine she didn't pronounce it perfectly). She now will ask if the food we are served at other people's houses is vegetarian.
My son is 20mths and we talk to him about it but I'm not sure how much he picks up, he isn't as verbal at this age as my daughter was. For now they don't have the option to eat meat and so far everyone in our life has been respectful of that.

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Old 04-27-2003, 02:06 AM
 
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whenever the subject of meat comes up, i have always just said to my son (3) "that's made from dead animals" and make a sad/yucked-out face. i think he gets this, as he has started talking about mcdonald's out of the blue (my mom used to take him there for fries before i told her the fries had beef tallow in them) and says things like how the cows are hurting and "die-ding" at mcdonalds and looking sad. i think i will continue to call any meat product 'dead animals', because, well, that's what it is! and it brings the reality/sadness/yuckiness of it more into focus, yk?
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Old 05-01-2003, 11:24 AM
 
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There are some decent children's books that explain vegetarianism to small children. Victor the Vegetarian is all about a little boy who begins to realize that the meat he eats comes from animals he loves. I bought it for my daughter when she was 3, and she really understood the message. Babe and Charlotte's Web are two children's movies that center around animals being eaten too.
I have always been really honest that meat comes from killing animals, and that if she wants to eat meat, that would mean more animals would die. My daughter has never ever asked to eat meat understanding this. The big problem I run into is that it really distresses her when we go places, and she sees her family and friends eating meat. She has tried many times to question them about their choices, which makes many people very uncomfortable. I am trying to handle it as another aspect of diversity, "everybody gets to decide for themselves what they eat"
Maybe preparing your daughter before you go places would be helpful to? I always tell dd that there might be foods that she cannot eat, but we will find her yummy foods that she likes to eat instead. And I try to bring along foods that I know she likes whenever we are going to family or friend's houses so that I know there will be choices that she loves.
And constantly use these experiences to teach her. She might not be interested in lunchmeat if she knew that it was made out of pigs, you know? My daughter also loves to roleplay that she is animals locked in cages (she came up with this game herself!!), and I have to free her. But I use the game to ask her how she felt when she was in the cage, and how she felt when she was free.
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Old 05-02-2003, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks everyone for your replies... I am trying to explain to my dd that we dont eat meat. since she loves to visit the pigs nad sheep in our neighborhood I explain that meat comes from pigs. but I dont think she understands since she loves pigs.

other day my sis had some pork in her soup and dd loves soup so she helped herself to my sis bowl (we were at restaurant) and she had this trail of pork on her fork. My sis explained to her that she doesnt eat meat, that mama and papa dont eat meat too. Then dd said to her... 'I eat meat!'. My sis put it on the side of her plate and offered her another veggy from her bowl of soup, but my dd picked up the meat and proudly ate it.

oh dear... not going to be an easy one to work around. My dd loves all food and eats her salads and anything we put in front of her, unlike our vegetarian neighbors where the kids are so picky and parents have to make only 'starchy' food for their kids.

I am going to check out those books you mentioned.

MY dd also killed some ants and bugs while following them around the yard and my parents and my friend laugh and tell me 'that is your vegetarian daughter??'. I was surprised too since we love to admire the little creatures especially slugs after a good rainfall.

thanks again for your tips. its all new to me and I guess was easier to control the first few years but harder now. Always a learning experience everyday.

stephanie
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