Even though I’ve chosen not to eat meat, I’m letting my son decide whether or not he wishes to himself. Yes, I’m vegetarian but my son is not.
Even though it appears to be trending, it was difficult to find statistics on the number of vegan and vegetarian children in our country. One report I found estimates that 1 in 12 parents in the UK are raising vegan children, while 13% of parents are raising little vegetarians. Out of these numbers, I am curious as to how many children made the decision to dine completely on plant-based foods themselves. Personally, I’ve struggled with the decision for my own children. In most cases I’m not convinced there is a right or wrong choice as to whether or not little ones should follow a vegan or vegetarian lead.
I am a vegetarian. Mostly. To be honest, I am not a fan of labels when it comes to my food choices. I choose to nourish myself intuitively and follow an eating pattern that places primarily plants into my own personal food pyramid. This does mean I will, on the rare occasion, consume bone broth or sample turkey over the holidays.
My husband and son, however, both regularly eat meat. We very seldom prepare meat in our household. This results in their take-out meal of choice being a non-vegetarian option. While I am not enthusiastic about this, I am encouraging my son to make many of his own choices, and this decision, I finally decided to let him make on his own.
I have explained the reasons behind this dietary preference with my son. The first time I shared he was still a toddler. While cruising down the highway our car pulled up beside a truck packed full of pigs, in my mind, likely destined to become porkchop. My son turned to me and uttered, “Piggy sad.” It was like he knew! I explained to him this is one reason I chose to eat the way I do—so animals would not be sad. While I am not sure this fully resonated with him at the time, he is aware of all the reasons driving my decision now.
Even so, he has let me know he does not wish to be a vegetarian like me. His exact words when recently asked were “I am a little bit vegetarian, I love spinach and broccoli, and salads……….” His reason for not giving up meat? “It tastes the best ever.”
As with all actions, I feel it’s important to know why we do what we do. I desire my son to have this motivation too. “Because I said so” is never something I’ve said. I do not see this decision as completely detrimental to him, therefore I have let my need to control this particular aspect of his diet go.
I know that I aspire for a plant-based diet for myself and my family, although I’m not hung up on labeling ourselves as a vegetarian family. I pack as much nutrition as I can into the meals I prepare and we are conscious of the food choices we make and how—even when animal products are consumed.
My hope is that one day will feel empowered by this choice and remember the benefits of eating plenty of plants. As to whether or not he will be vegetarian one day, there is no way to know. His current answer “yeah, maybe I will try it one day mama.”