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I am at that crossroad I have been dreading since giving birth. My DS, now 4, will be going to a large preschool in Aug, where healthy foods are offered, but veggie substitutions are the responsibility of the parents (in his small inhome preschool, my previous provider just made the substitutions for us).

I am trying to decide if it is worth the time, effort, and struggle of providing the veggie option (we do eat some poultry and fish, so it would primarily be red meat and pork we would substitute for). My DH thinks it is time for DS to try out some other foods and decide for himself (he is not vegetarian).

My personal reasons for avoiding red meat are enviro and health-related, but I have mixed feelings about when I should let DS decide for himself. Can anyone share opinions, reflections, experiences, etc.?
 

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Well, Dh and I are vegan, so we'll be facing this issue when we have children - although much more strongly since we are doing it for ethical reasons and your son still eats some types of meats.

That being said, if you are choosing to live this way for health and environmental reasons, I don't see any reason why your son shouldn't to. We all make choices for our children and this is no exception. I'm sure there are many other foods you wouldn't let him eat for health reasons - meat isn't any different. If you wouldn't buy him other things that were bad for the environment, then why "buy" him red meat?

At 4, he's certainly not old enough to understand the health and environmental ramifications of the US agricultural system.
 

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We are vegetarians and I rarely eat dairy/eggs. The only time my 4 yo (5 next week) tasted meat was accidentally at school when she did not understand what she was being offered. Afterward (when she had just turned 3) she insisted that the "delicious" bacon was vegetarian. She expresses that she does not eat or want to eat meat but I am not sure she would know whether a dish had meat in it or not. I think she would avoid meat but I would not yet give her permission to make that decision because she is too young to make an informed decision.
 

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Dh and I are vegan primarily for health reasons (that's not to say we don't appreciate the environmental and ethical implications too). Ds is 5.5 and has never been in a food situation where one of us wasn't with him and we didn't have appropriate food for him or we promised it as soon as we got home (we are also very strict about eating organic and not eating hydrogenated oils, dyes, corn syrup, etc.). He has always been very accepting of this. I explain to him that we believe in putting healthly food into our bodies to help us grow tall, run fast, and jump high. I also explain which "meats" are which animals. He's a sensitive little guy. I don't see him wanting to eat meat until and unless he hits those rebellious years sometime in the future! :LOL

Its hard when your spouse is not on board with your convictions. Good luck.
 

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Can you just send his lunch? I'm vegan and my dh eats meat, but our ds does not eat meat. I just explain to him what it is and he does not want it. I told my dh that when ds is 7 he can try meat if he wants to. My mil actually gave him chicken once and he was up all night with a stomach ache.
 

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My children are vegetarian. I tell people this and only purchase and prepare vegetarian foods. When they are older and have their own money and want to make the choice to not be vegetarian (as long as I don't have to purchase or prepare it), they can.
 

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First off.... eating chickens and fish makes one NOT a vegetarian. So, I would say simply, "we don't eat red meat". Then, look into how often red meat is served. It may be EASY to make a sub for the red meat once a week. Or it may not be worth it to you to have to make a sub daily!

We're vegetarians. I would make darned sure that I could sub my own veg options in whichever daycare facility my ds was to attend or we would find another provider! Can you send a bagged lunch daily for your child? That's what I would do and then I would know that he was eating what I WANTED HIM to eat.

jmo.
 

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I thought you'd be saying your son was 12 or something! Then there'd be a decent argument for letting them research and make their own decisions, perhaps. 4??? Um, what other decisions is your dh saying your 4 year old should be able to make for himself - annual dentists' visits, whether to wear that pesky bike helmet, slurpees for breakfast, videos 12 hours a day? Methinks not.
 

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Our son is in a preschool where vegetarian options are limited, so we pack a main course for him when he goes (he eats the veg & fruit sides at school). We plan to continue to do so until the day comes when he says he no longer wants to be veg. I hope this day never comes, but if it does, I suspect it won't be until he is much much older. Based on what information would you expect your young child to make this decision? On taste? On health information? On ethics? He seems to me too young to make a truly informed decision, so it will be up to you and your dp to make the decision for him. So you will have to determine how important your objections to eating cows and pigs are, and how committed you are to not eating them.
 
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