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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If you are raising your children vegan or vegetarian, when will you allow your child to try meat, if ever? As in, when will they be able to make the choice for themselves?

My opinion is that now, DD (2yo) is not old enough to understand what she is eating and why we don't eat meat. So for now, I'm making that choice for her. But once she understands that the chicken served at a restaraunt was once a living, breathing creature, I think it would be fine for her to decide for herself. Not sure how old she would be when this happens, and I still wouldn't buy meat for her, but if she chose to eat it at a friend's house, I would feel wrong to stop her.

My reasoning for this is that I don't want her to become addicted or dependent on eating animal products (as people tend to get) before she's able to fully understand all the reasons we don't eat them. Some people think I'm taking the choice away from her, but IMO, I'm giving her more of a choice than I had growing up eating meat to begin with.

What do you think?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by angelamariebee View Post
If you are raising your children vegan or vegetarian, when will you allow your child to try meat, if ever? As in, when will they be able to make the choice for themselves?
I don't see this decision to be much different than say - letting my children play in the street, be mean to other children, throw out plastic bottles on walking trails, make racist comments, or any other decision we make for ethical, health, or environmental reasons. Vegetarianism in our house is not only an ethical decision, it is also a health decision and an environmental decision. It's not something we take lightly. Just as I wouldn't say it was okay for them to go play with something dangerous - I'm not going to say - sure go eat dead animals that will affect your health. I wouldn't say it's okay to call people names just because you're old enough to realize that person isn't a nice person - I'm not going to say - hey, sure go do something I find unethical. Does that make any sense? Vegetarianism, for us, is something important and we haven't made the decision lightly. I don't see why it is all that different than other things we choose for our children. When our children are old enough to make adult decisions - well, then they'll make their own decisions. Until then, as their parent, it's my responsibility to do what I think is right for them.
 

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there will always be a no-meat rule in our home. as for outings, as long as my boys are still young enough that i am with them all the time, i will make sure they eat vegetarian food. like you said, they are too young to know what they are eating!

but once they're beyond that, i assume they will at least want to try it at some point. i won't freak out about it, but if it becomes a habit i'll start slipping them PETA videos & the like! if they grow up understanding that animals are living, thinking, feeling beings, then perhaps they'll have a hard time just viewing them as detached food. i'm hoping at least!
 

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Originally Posted by ColoradoMama View Post
I don't see this decision to be much different than say - letting my children play in the street, be mean to other children, throw out plastic bottles on walking trails, make racist comments, or any other decision we make for ethical, health, or environmental reasons. Vegetarianism in our house is not only an ethical decision, it is also a health decision and an environmental decision. It's not something we take lightly. Just as I wouldn't say it was okay for them to go play with something dangerous - I'm not going to say - sure go eat dead animals that will affect your health. I wouldn't say it's okay to call people names just because you're old enough to realize that person isn't a nice person - I'm not going to say - hey, sure go do something I find unethical. Does that make any sense? Vegetarianism, for us, is something important and we haven't made the decision lightly. I don't see why it is all that different than other things we choose for our children. When our children are old enough to make adult decisions - well, then they'll make their own decisions. Until then, as their parent, it's my responsibility to do what I think is right for them.
When you put it like that, it makes me feel like letting DS have meat as soon as he asks for it would be like letting him have cigarettes as soon as he can ask for those.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
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Originally Posted by dziwozony View Post
if they grow up understanding that animals are living, thinking, feeling beings, then perhaps they'll have a hard time just viewing them as detached food. i'm hoping at least!
This is my hope too. I hope to slip in some age-appropriate information about factory farming and the like. Not to scare her but to inform her, you know?

Not too long ago at a friend's house, another two year old was eating chicken taquitos. DD wanted one SO bad. I tried telling her, "Those have chicken in them baby. We don't eat chickens." And she said, "I eat chicken! I eat chicken!"
haha
 

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Well I'm going to go against the grain a little here, and say that it's a priority to me that DD make her own choices about meat eating.

Some background: I have been a vegetarian for 23 years, and have not once in all that time missed eating meat or wanted to eat meat. However my DH does eat meat as do most of the people I know--I don't have a problem with that. I know many folks who post on this board may not feel the same way and I respect that. But for me being a vegetarian is a highly personal life choice and I've found that if I want the people in my life to respect and accept it I have to show them the same respect. So I don't share factory farming info, comment on what they are eating etc. And I expect the same back; no "where do you get your protein from?" questions and no jokes from my dad about eating "green glop" or whatever.

In our house I am the cook and since I've been a veggie since I was in my teens that means that no meat gets cooked in our house--because I have no idea how to cook it (plus I don't want to touch it). But DH eats meat in restaurants and if we are at a friends house and they serve it he eats it. DD is 3.5 years old. The first 2 years of her life she ate no meat. Since she turned 3 she has occasionally asked to try meat and that's fine with me. Whenever she asks to try it I say go ahead. She often doesn't take more than a bite and will occasionally spit it out--the decision is hers to make without comment or judgment from me. That being said, I have faith that by modeling a vegetarian diet for her I am having a positive impact no matter what she winds up doing.

ETA: Just want to quickly add that DD does understand that meat is a cooked animal. She has asked and we have explained it as best we could. So when she chooses to eat a bite of chicken she knows what she is eating (at least as much as a 3 year old can)

Wishing you and your children the best in whatever decision you make.
 

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I feel the same way about it as ColoradoMama.

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Originally Posted by eepster View Post
When you put it like that, it makes me feel like letting DS have meat as soon as he asks for it would be like letting him have cigarettes as soon as he can ask for those.
It may be extreme, but this IS how I would feel about it. I wouldn't give my young child cigarettes, why on earth would I give him meat? In my research, meat is more harmful than tobacco products (not up for debate, it's just what I have found while researching the subject for MANY college essays I have written), so it makes sense to me not to let him have it until he is an adult and can make up is own mind about it.

It might be extreme to not let him have it until he is an adult, but really he can make up his mind about it when he is old enough to really understand what it is he is eating. I will NEVER buy it, not even in a restaurant, never have it in our home, but if he is spending his own money while he is out with his friends, I really have no control over that, and I really don't want to be mean about it, we just feel VERY strongly about it in our home. We kind of treat it like religion too.. for now he will practice our "religion" but when he is older he can decide for himself if that is what he wants for himself.

Did any of that make sense?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I guess it all depends on your personal reasons for being a vegetarian in the first place. And in a way, I agree with all of you (except for bits and pieces, heh) because they ALL make sense to me! I can see all sides of this issue. I feel more comfortable letting her choose for herself when she's older, maybe tween/pre-teen (are those the same thing? I'm not sure now that I type it out) age, or maybe a couple years sooner. Because like you said Lizzy, it IS kind of like a religion for me too.

Quote:
That being said, I have faith that by modeling a vegetarian diet for her I am having a positive impact no matter what she winds up doing.
Shaki, I agree with this statement 1000%!! The typical American diet (assuming you are American, you don't have your location listed) is pretty pathetic, and you are showing her: Yes, there ARE other things besides meat to eat! I'm always amazed at how confused people are when they find this out (myself included, a few years back). lol
 

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Being vegan is my personal choice and I'm well respected for it because others eating meat is their business. My son has never really wanted meat. He'll eat chicken. I'm a new to this lifestyle. I've never been a big meat cook and never wanted to really learn to do it well. DH will never give it up but he rarely cooks at home so no biggie. I made the decision to go vegan based on the fact dairy makes me feel very flemmy and I'm just not that in to meat. it put me over the edge when we took a preschool field trip to an organic dairy. The animaly are treated very, very well considering but I still did not like it so I made the decision. naturally, my sons don't lean towards meat. DS1 will live on fruit given the choice. DS2 tries everything once. I will not say no but I'm not going to provide it unless it's a happy meal on a play date. I chose to be a raw vegan because I actually think it's the easiest lifestyle to live in public. You can pretty much fine fruits and green salads everywhere. Being raw, I'm used to that so it effects my appetite less. I want to show my kids that you can blend in even though you made an alternative lifestyle change. We are all equal but different. When they are older I will explain to them why I have made my decisions and then let them make their own.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by angelamariebee View Post

Shaki, I agree with this statement 1000%!! The typical American diet (assuming you are American, you don't have your location listed) is pretty pathetic, and you are showing her: Yes, there ARE other things besides meat to eat! I'm always amazed at how confused people are when they find this out (myself included, a few years back). lol
Yes I am American
. Yes, I've absolutely found the modeling part of being veggie the most effective way too open people's minds up...
 

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Originally Posted by LizzyQ View Post
It may be extreme, but this IS how I would feel about it. I wouldn't give my young child cigarettes, why on earth would I give him meat?
Yes, that is exactly what I was getting at. Actually, I think the cigarettes/meat analogy is a good one.
 

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Originally Posted by ColoradoMama View Post
I don't see this decision to be much different than say - letting my children play in the street, be mean to other children, throw out plastic bottles on walking trails, make racist comments, or any other decision we make for ethical, health, or environmental reasons. Vegetarianism in our house is not only an ethical decision, it is also a health decision and an environmental decision. It's not something we take lightly. Just as I wouldn't say it was okay for them to go play with something dangerous - I'm not going to say - sure go eat dead animals that will affect your health. I wouldn't say it's okay to call people names just because you're old enough to realize that person isn't a nice person - I'm not going to say - hey, sure go do something I find unethical. Does that make any sense? Vegetarianism, for us, is something important and we haven't made the decision lightly. I don't see why it is all that different than other things we choose for our children. When our children are old enough to make adult decisions - well, then they'll make their own decisions. Until then, as their parent, it's my responsibility to do what I think is right for them.
Pretty much all of the above for us too.
My 6yo knows he will be allowed to choose what he wants to eat when he makes decisions for himself about eating outside our home as he gets older, but as of now he has declared that he will only eat vegan food, but "maybe some more honey". I can accept that!
 

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I know what you mean when you compare cigarettes to meat. I respect that. But don't you think it's important for your child to understand that not everyone else is like them and it's OK for us all to be ourselves? Some people belive that being vegan is advanced spiritual thinking. I'm not saying it is but you are more at peace with the universe when you consciously try to live in harmony with it. You reallize the animals are living, breathing creatures with thoughts and feeling and lives of their own. Therefore I choose not to eat them or their by-products but since a great deal of people do would you prefer your child to sit in judgement of them or accept others and themselves for the choices they make? Don't you think it divides the world into us and them and absolute right and absolute wrong?

When I explained my personal choice to my friends, when the subject came up, I explained that I've never really like meat that much and they said "yeah, you're right, you don't eat much meat." Then I explained the trip to the dairy and one of my friends felt bad because she was the field trip coordinator! I explained it was a good experience for me to make my decision. I said I don't really like the way I feel when I consume dairy. They totally understood that. I explained I did it for my health. Yes I was avoiding those products but really just eating more processed crap and by making a formal decision I took my health in my own hands to educate myself on being a vegan that eats healthfully. It was mental, spiritual and physical decision. I told them I didn't care what they did and please, let's still get together for dinner etc... We were at Chick filet and I was eathing a green salad on a play date.

I was actually a little nervous about switching my kids to whole food based diet and tending more toward vegan but they took to it right away. My son loves the juicer and big, long carrots vs. the already cleaned little ones. That makes it fun for him and he doesn't really notice what he's not getting but looks at what he is getting. He already made the choice to have apples instead of fries in his happy meal a long time ago. He got mad when our friend didn't know and got him fries. He's making the best decisions based on what he knows and what is normal to him. He was thrilled and thankful when I bought him a fruit cup instead of fries the other day. He may try other things or not but he goes to what he naturally loves an that is what is natural. He doesn't think about what others are eating unless it's candy and that's understandable. He's 4. At some point, the questions will come up and we will answer them then. In the mean time, I will keep the house full of fruits and veggies within reach and give out a reasonable number of treats when asked. I think the rest will take care of itself.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by CharlieToaster View Post
I know what you mean when you compare cigarettes to meat. I respect that. But don't you think it's important for your child to understand that not everyone else is like them and it's OK for us all to be ourselves?
How does one exclude the other? I don't teach them that people who smoke are horrible people just because they're making an unhealthy choice. I don't tell them that SUV drivers are nasty people because they're driving something that is bad for the environment. I'm not going to tell them that most of the people in their life are awful because they make a choice we don't agree with. I'm also not going to sugar coat it for them simply because it's the cultural norm - so is circumcision, but I still tell them it's a human rights violation and sexual abuse.
 

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I was raised vegetarian. I haven't got a clue how to cook meat - the closest I've got to cooking meat is cutting up my own placenta (and swallowing the pieces raw)
. So cooking meat for my kids isn't happening under any circumstances
. Having said that, I went through a short period of "pretending" to eat meat when I started high school, to fit in. It was horrible and I was always nearly throwing up at friends' houses, so I stopped! I'll understand if my kids want to experiment.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ColoradoMama View Post
How does one exclude the other? I don't teach them that people who smoke are horrible people just because they're making an unhealthy choice. I don't tell them that SUV drivers are nasty people because they're driving something that is bad for the environment. I'm not going to tell them that most of the people in their life are awful because they make a choice we don't agree with. I'm also not going to sugar coat it for them simply because it's the cultural norm - so is circumcision, but I still tell them it's a human rights violation and sexual abuse.
:
 

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There are plenty of happy, healthy people who eat meat based diets. As are there happy, healthy people who smoke. Some people with SUV's really need them because they have very large families, jobs or responsiblities that require one. Therefore, in my opinion, we can't make any kind of judgement whatesoever because we haven't walked in the other person's shoes and know where there are coming from and why they do things. Accept all at face value and live your life they way you want to live it. All is of God. All is good. There are people for whom a vegan lifestyle does not work and they have to add meat or dairy prducts for their health. I'm sure we can all come up with documented proof that that shouldn't be the case but, for some it is. There are die hard raw vegans who have had to add raw meat or eggs to their diets to help heal their bodies etc... That SUV driver my have a wheel chair in the back or be delivering food to the poor.

I chose to teach face value and no judgement to my kids from the beginning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I don't have anything to add at the moment but I wanted to say that this thread is turning out more fascinating than I imagined. I can see all your points. It's exciting to me to connect with vegetarians/vegans because I don't know ANY in real life and anytime I've tried to join groups online relating to the subject I've been disappointed at the smugness of them all. You answers are all so well thought out and mature!
 

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For us, being vegan is an ethical/moral choice. Both kids will be taught that animals are beings all on their own, not something put on the planet for humans to use as they see fit. For me, harming an animal is no different than harming a human, and I will teach the kids that. So whether or not to eat meat is a choice that they will not be making for themselves until they are out of the house.

DSD is a little different, since she didn't become vegan until she was 5. DH is still figuring out the best way to really teach her about factory farming, etc without giving her nightmares. But at our house, she will be vegan until she is an adult. If her mom stays vegan, my guess is that it will be the same way at the other house, but her philosophies on parenting older children are a little different than DH's, so who knows?

As far as being judgemental, DH and I are a little judgemental ourselves on this topic. We definitely aren't in-your-face about it and don't bring up our reasoning in social situations unless someone asks directly. But in our conversations at home, we can be a little, "What's wrong with people?" We'll probably walk a fine line on this topic. Society has traditionally oppressed all sorts of living beings at different times over history and then realized that what they were doing was wrong, so we may take that approach with the kids.
 
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