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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My four year old and I have been vegetarian since he was two years old (so that makes it about 2 1/2 years since he's eaten meat). He has no memory of eating meat, and has been a confident and content vegetarian ever since. Except until last night.<br><br>
Let me preface this by saying my sister in law and her daughter are living with us temporarily. My SIL asked if it was okay to bring lunch meat into the house to feed to her daughter, and I agreed. My ds knows they eat meat, and he knows my husband occasionally eats meat.<br><br>
So, last night, ds decided he was going to start eating meat. He said that his cousin, aunt, and dad all eat meat, so he wanted to start eating it too. He tasted a piece of his cousins turkey and said it tasted "yummy." As silly as this may sound, it really broke my heart to witness, and i'm still feeling pretty emotional about it.<br><br>
I began feeding ds a vegetarian diet because he's has a sensitive digestive system. He had constipation problems and was already developing fissures, so we stopped eating meat and most dairy. Since we've become veggie, he has not been constipated at all, nor has he had any related problems. I became vegetarian to support him; we've been doing it together.<br><br>
Since we've become veggies, I've researched more about vegetarian activism, political/environmental reasons to be vegetarian, etc. and it's become a more important way of life for me that I've realized before last night.<br><br>
Today I tried to remind him of all the great reasons to stay vegetarian. We went to our local natural food store and picked out some veggie lunch "meat" and other fun snacks. But he's still convinced he wants to be a flexatarian "like daddy." I agree with following a child's lead, but I don't think he's mature enough to make this decision for himself. Especially because he only wants to eat meat because his dad, aunt, and cousin whom he adores all eat meat.<br><br>
What do you think? How would you handle a situation like this? I also have a 10 month old dd who is going to be vegetarian.<br><br>
All reactions/responses are welcome!
 

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My 4 yo has also been vegetarian since he was 2. My DH eats meat when we're out and DS of course wants to be like him. He goes back and forth between talking about not eating animals and healthy food and then informing me of how he loves meat. With his personality I choose not to push it. Its not what I would have in my perfect world, but I really don't want vegetarianism to seem tyrannical or forced and eclipse the real reasons for it.
 

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We're facing this issue now. DD now goes to school and sees the other kids eating meat and wants to also. We've had long discussions about this. She loves fish thanks to a friend offering and her eating before I had the chance to step in. Is four really old enough to make a decision? I really don't think so.
 

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My DS1 will be 3 next week. My husband eats meat occasionally, so I don't have a problem with DS eating it occasionally too. He really likes it when he does eat it. My personal feeling is that I want vegetarianism to be a decision that he makes, or doesn't make, for himself. I am afraid that if I impose vegetarianism on him as a rule, he will someday rebel and be an all-out carnivore! He knows that I do not eat meat, so my hope is that I will have modeled for him a viable option.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>jkg</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10261328"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">My DS1 will be 3 next week. My husband eats meat occasionally, so I don't have a problem with DS eating it occasionally too. He really likes it when he does eat it. My personal feeling is that I want vegetarianism to be a decision that he makes, or doesn't make, for himself. I am afraid that if I impose vegetarianism on him as a rule, he will someday rebel and be an all-out carnivore! He knows that I do not eat meat, so my hope is that I will have modeled for him a viable option.</div>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that">:<br><br>
i guess i would also tell all those he loves and adores, if they don't already know, that he has had digestive problems in the past, and any possible meats, etc should be checked out first and keept to a bare minumim. Since he isnt use to it - it could be an issues since he is already sensative like that. I know for me, when i switched between being vegan and back to eating meats and having dairy - it was killer on my stomach cause i jumped in with having something i totally was not use to eating.<br><br>
but yeah, i wouldn't totally disallow him trying it, it's new for him and i think the newness of it will wearoff.
 

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If my kids want to eat meat, they can. I think vegitarianism is a personal choice. All I can do is educate them. 4 is WAY to young to talk about this stuff in depth. Keep the education simple.<br><br>
My oldest who is 11 will not eat meat <i>by his choice</i>. However, when he was younger he did. My youngest 5 will, and I let him. I don't bring it into the house, but if we eat at a restaurant (the 5 times a year we do) or he is at a friend or relatives house and wants meat I don't make a fuss over it.<br><br>
Youngest ds doesn't understand that meat is animals. I buy the litelife stuff and so he can't even conceive the notion that people really eat animals.<br><br>
Also, it is very natural and healthy for your ds to want to be like Daddy. If you have a real issue with the meat you better talk to Daddy about changing his eating habits, or let it go.<br><br>
My dh is vegetarian, but he will eat meat occasionally when we are at friends or with family who are serving it. On the other side of the coin I'm strict vegan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you all for your helpful advice. I think I'm going to let eat a little meat every now and then, though I won't cook it or keep it in the house. Though it pains me to see him eating meat, it would bother me more to forbid it. He is a curious little guy, and I really do think it is yet another exploratory phase he's going through.
 

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I agree with most of the posts here. Forcing it might make it more of an issue than it has to be. Just tell him that you weren't eating it before because of his "tummy ache"s and if he gets a tummy ache after he eats it that he should tell you just in case.<br>
I'm not sure if you have explained that meat is an animal yet. But I think by 4 it is old enough to understand that meat is an animal. I don't think you have to go into detail, but just saying "Mommy doesn't want to eat meat because I don't want to eat animals, meat is an animal".<br>
I haven't been through this yet. my strict vegetarian (90% vegan) 2 yr old is not quite there yet <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/innocent.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shy"><br><br>
good luck!
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>jkg</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10261328"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">My personal feeling is that I want vegetarianism to be a decision that he makes, or doesn't make, for himself. I am afraid that if I impose vegetarianism on him as a rule, he will someday rebel and be an all-out carnivore!</div>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that">:<br><br>
I was such a rebel growing up, I don't want to push my child the other direction like I did with my parents. I am also afraid that my hardcore vegan DH WILL push it that far <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"><br><br>
-----<br><br>
Maybe you can get some of those children comics from PETA that explains where the chickens and pigs come from. I think a 4yr old would understand that.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"> I would feel sad if my ds decided he wanted to eat meat too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have explained to ds where meat comes from, and i've even gone into minor detail about how some of the animals are killed (upon his inquiry). The fact that daddy eats meat overpowers all and any age-appropriate explanation of why he shouldn't eat meat (health, cruelty to animals, etc) <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shrug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shrug"><br><br>
I am hoping that one day soon, after his curiosity is sated, he will again choose not to "eat his friends."
 

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i would ask everyone to stop eating meat in front of your son. if SIL and her dd want to eat meat, they can eat it away from your son. i think that's just being courteous b/c you are being nice enough to let her stay there.<br><br>
as for your dh, have a talk with him. i'm sure that he knows about the digestive issues your son has. (not to mention all the crap that they put into the meat- hormones, antibiotics, nitrites, msg, etc.) you said he doesnt eat meat often, so maybe he could stop for now so that ds could see that daddy no longer eats meat. hopefully he will forget about the whole thing.<br><br>
oh, and these close up pictures of lunch meat will gross you out so much you wont even want to walk past them in the grocery store:<br><a href="http://www.newstarget.com/PhotoTour_Mystery_Meat_1.html" target="_blank">http://www.newstarget.com/PhotoTour_Mystery_Meat_1.html</a><br>
(i couldnt imagine something like that going into my or my kids' bodies.)
 

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For the ethical reasons alone, I would try to educate him a little more on why you don't eat animals. Maybe take him to the park, or take him to a sanctuary where he can see animals and re-educate him that animals are your friends. Do you have a cat or dog? Make him see that all animals deserve to be alive and not be eaten. He may get it, he may not, but I think at 4 years old he should be able understand that. Books are a great way too, if you read to him and have him point out the animals and gently suggest that they aren't food - they are meant to be friends - he might change his mind. I see how you're torn with this decision, but add this to the tummy aches he might get (gee, wonder why - dead carcass in his digestive system?) I believe it's still your place to set the rules at this point.<br><br>
Given that the relatives are eating it in front of him, you can't judge and say that "bad people" eat meat or anything, but you can steer him in a direction that he will understand and want to be part of.
 

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I am honestly surprised by all the vegetarians answers. I can't find the right word, but I'm surprised by the attitude that it's no big deal to eat meat, if your child wants to; go ahead attitudes. Seems strange comming from vegetarians. The majority of you must be veg because of purely "health" reasons.<br>
My best friend and I have had conversations about this, we take it seriously in all aspects. Have any of you seen the CNN slaughterhouse hidden camera video of treatment of "downed" cows on their way to slaughter?? It is HORRIFIC and everyone who consumes meat contributes to it.<br>
I look at it like a religious belief, we don't eat meat in our house at all ever. My children were born and have been raised veg, and I don't believe in the rebel and eat meat thing either. My son is 11 and is disgusted by the sight and smell of meat. That's what happens when you are not around it, it disgusts you.<br>
I'm surprised there are no more veg folks with a more serious attitute speaking up.<br>
And YES I LOVE PETA!! GO PETA!!<br>
Shannon
 

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My kids are raised veg too, and our house is a no meat zone, ever, no way.<br>
However.<br>
When I went veg my mother did not cry, or yell, or harangue me about eating hte foods she thought I should eat. She did not set rules or regulations about what choices she wanted me to make. Rather, she took teh opportunity to educate herself about vegetarianism and learned to cook more meatless meals. I appreciated her open mind and it made us both more at ease in our relationship; I trusted her.<br><br>
Now, if DS were to tell me he eanted to eat meat, (which I'm sure he will at some point; he's only 2) I could easily and confidently tell him, "Not in my house."<br>
But how respectful is it to force him to eat in a way that he does not want to, if others at the table are allowed to make those choices?<br>
How is that morally different from our parents forcing us to eat meat when we didn't want to?<br><br>
Ah, the ease of a hypothetical situation. OP, when there are others eating meat in your house, at your table, you are in a real tough spot. I would play up the "it will make you sick" factor, since it WILL.<br><br>
good luck! hope everyone involved can come to a respectful (to your son and to you) solution.
 

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Pepperdove,<br><br>
Why do you think your son will eventually want to eat meat? My son is 11years old and is repulsed by all aspects of "meat", he hates the sight and smell and he hates that people think they have the right to kill animals to eat them. My daughter is just 4, so she has no idea what meat is yet.<br><br>
My son feels the way he does with minimal age appropriate answers to his question about meat and where it comes from. He's an extremely sensitive child too and loves all of our pets. When he was younger he used to ask me "why do they put meat commercials on our T.V, Mom, don't they know we are vegetarians?'<br>
He didn't get that everybody sees the same T.V....<br><br>
I am going to answer the moral difference question as honestly as I can. It can not be compared, we are not eating a dead tortured carcass at the table, the choice should be morally clear. Do you put death in your body or not, think about all the chemical body reactions these tortured and slaughtered animals have in their flesh.<br><br>
Did I mention the farm video of abused cows on the way to slaughter, isn't that much more morally wrong? Everybody go watch it before it's gone. It will open your eyes to meat eaters "simple" choices. It's not like choosing what shirt you are going to put on your kid today. It's way bigger than that.<br><br>
Best intentions only on my part ,<br>
Shannon<br><br>
P.S Can you tell I'm a Buddhist? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1"><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Pepperdove</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10468274"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">My kids are raised veg too, and our house is a no meat zone, ever, no way.<br>
However.<br>
When I went veg my mother did not cry, or yell, or harangue me about eating hte foods she thought I should eat. She did not set rules or regulations about what choices she wanted me to make. Rather, she took teh opportunity to educate herself about vegetarianism and learned to cook more meatless meals. I appreciated her open mind and it made us both more at ease in our relationship; I trusted her.<br><br>
Now, if DS were to tell me he eanted to eat meat, (which I'm sure he will at some point; he's only 2) I could easily and confidently tell him, "Not in my house."<br>
But how respectful is it to force him to eat in a way that he does not want to, if others at the table are allowed to make those choices?<br>
How is that morally different from our parents forcing us to eat meat when we didn't want to?<br><br>
Ah, the ease of a hypothetical situation. OP, when there are others eating meat in your house, at your table, you are in a real tough spot. I would play up the "it will make you sick" factor, since it WILL.<br><br>
good luck! hope everyone involved can come to a respectful (to your son and to you) solution.</div>
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I agree with Shannon Poe. My house is meat free and will always be so. Both DP and I are vegan and are raising or son this way. Of course, ds is only 1 and I haven't had to deal with anything like this yet. However, my veganism is a deeply moral and ethical decision. if other people were living with and/or staying with me they would have to agree to the "no meat in my house" policy. It may be a little hard line for some folks but that's my take. When my son becomes older and for some reason decides to eat meat it will have to be done outside of the home. I will never compromise my beliefs at the dinner table. Or anywhere for that matter.<br>
You mentioned that your son's digestive issues have become much better since becoming veggie. Why would you want to compromise that? I know it is hard but maybe you need to talk to your family members around you and explain these issues to them again. A four year old is still quite young to fully grasp all of this...it sounds like there is just too much temptation in your household. A little one is bound to become very confused if he is being sent all of these mixed messages.<br>
I don't judge you at all, I know this must be tough. I have just been lucky to be surrounded by those who live in a similar manner. I know I have a unique situation. Good luck and listen to your heart~
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Shannon Poe</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10461842"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I am honestly surprised by all the vegetarians answers. I can't find the right word, but I'm surprised by the attitude that it's no big deal to eat meat, if your child wants to; go ahead attitudes. Seems strange comming from vegetarians. The majority of you must be veg because of purely "health" reasons.<br>
My best friend and I have had conversations about this, we take it seriously in all aspects. Have any of you seen the CNN slaughterhouse hidden camera video of treatment of "downed" cows on their way to slaughter?? It is HORRIFIC and everyone who consumes meat contributes to it.<br>
I look at it like a religious belief, we don't eat meat in our house at all ever. My children were born and have been raised veg, and I don't believe in the rebel and eat meat thing either. My son is 11 and is disgusted by the sight and smell of meat. That's what happens when you are not around it, it disgusts you.<br>
I'm surprised there are no more veg folks with a more serious attitute speaking up.<br>
And YES I LOVE PETA!! GO PETA!!<br>
Shannon</div>
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If only it were that black and white.<br><br>
I'm an ethical vegan. If my 4 year old had been born and raised veg, it would be one thing. But for me to decide out of the blue that she can't have some of the things that she likes because of a personal decision that *I* made for myself - well, that goes against my ethics as much as eating meat does. We also live in a home with unreprentant omnis, so there is no getting away from meat/eggs/dairy here.<br><br>
My DD doesn't eat meat, by her own choice. She does still eat dairy, and she knows that I don't, and she knows why I don't, but she is not ready to make that leap yet, and I'm not going to force it on her. She also knows that if she wants to eat meat, it is entirely up to her, and I won't be mad at her; I also won't bring it into the house or prepare it for her, but it is here already, which can be confusing for her.<br><br>
For really young kids, especially kids who are newly converted to veg*nism, it can be really confusing. On the one hand, there is the desire to do "good", to not eat animals; on the other hand, it is really hard to give up things that you love and that you have always eaten. People occasionally offer DD meat, because she "needs" it. Most of the time, she is very resolute about the fact that she does not eat animals. But occasionally, she struggles, and it is very clear that she *wants* to eat a little bit of meat, but she is afraid of dissapointing me. In that case, I'll always encourage her to do what she wants. I want my daughter to be veg because she wants to be, not because she's afraid that I won't love her if she's not.<br><br>
My job as a mother is to guide her, to set examples for her, and to support her own personal choices. It is not to force my own choices on her. It doesn't mean that I will always agree with everything that she does, but I will always love and support her no matter what she chooses.
 

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Excellent post,Shannon Poe<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I am going to answer the moral difference question as honestly as I can. It can not be compared, we are not eating a dead tortured carcass at the table, the choice should be morally clear. Do you put death in your body or not, think about all the chemical body reactions these tortured and slaughtered animals have in their flesh.</td>
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This is one of the reasons that tipped me over to the veg side, more then a decade ago.<br><br>
If it were me and my family, no way would my 4 yo be eating meat. But then again, we are a veg family, and being veg encompasses so much more than just being a "choice." It is really a huge part of our lives.<br><br>
And I think that a 4 yo is ALOT different then say a 13 yo who chooses to eat meat. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"> I think you have the final say. I mean, do you let your kids devour candy/ junk food/ soda because their aunt/ cousin/ whoever does? That is just not a good reason, imo.
 
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