Can anyone offer advice/ wisdom here. My nearly 3 year old daughter who we’ve brought up veggie pointed at a ham sandwich in the supermarket and said I want that mummy! I explained we didn’t eat ham and swiftly moved on. Since then she has twice asked for a ham sandwich to which I have explained that ham is a pig and we don’t eat pigs! To which she has replied I do mummy, I want to eat it! My dilemma here is how much information to expose her to as I don’t feel like I’ve explained the meat situation very well to her and it goes against everything I believe in to allow her to try meat BUT also I don’t want to create a situation of the forbidden food is attractive and therefore desirable. Has anyone been in this situation? I fully expected her to find the idea of eating animals disgusting so I’m floundering a bit!
Can you take her to a farm park maybe so she can see the animals and make the connection?
We are not veggie but have always made sure the kids know exactly what they are eating and where it is from. We try to source all our meat locally and organically from small producers so want them to be aware of our ethical stance and why we have made that choice.
Hmmm, I’m wondering if she has been given ham to eat without your knowledge, and now knows what it is, which may explain why she is asking for it by name.
I agree that I personally would expect young children to be upset by the idea of eating animals (after all I was).
I have not been in your situation yet so can’t really help but I would think there are plenty of books and stories which would support your values.
Charlottes web is one I have put aside for future, and there is a series of books with a title character called Tamworth pig, I think one of them has a vegetarian theme.
Good luck with finding an answer to that problem.
Before I start, I’m not vegetarian. In fact, I’m a voracious carnivore. I’m sorry but it’s too delicious to not eat! I know this is a kind of veggie question, but I thought maybe a different view might be interesting…
“it goes against everything I believe in to allow her to try meat”
It doesn’t go against what she believes. *shrugs* Why not let her try it? The more you say no, and make a ‘thing’ out of it, the more it might draw her attention to it. She’d getting to a point where she can make her own decisions, to some extent. If it’s the ethical problems you have (their living conditions, method of slaughter etc), could you find a local butcher whose meat is free-range, and eats it at someone else’s house, thus not bringing it into your home? It’s a slightly happier medium. It raises the interesting points though of when CAN she eat meat if she wants to try it, and at what point does she gain the right to try meat if she wants to?
Surely vegetarianism is a choice? By all means, as her Mama, you can make these kinds of decisions for her, that’s your right, but the pig’s already dead at the sandwich point, and if she doesn’t eat it, someone else will.
Slightly different point though, at least she’s actively willing to try new foods, so there’s kind of a positive in there! :D
With the knowing-the-ham-comes-from-pigs thing, at 3, I helped raise a pig, and me and my grandad slaughtered it together (I say ‘we’, he and I watched and learned). We raised it knowing that that is what the pig was for, and that we were going to take care of it very well until then. My grandad used to give them whisky for their last meal ‘As a treat.’ he would say.
And for waaaaaaaaaaaaay in the future and a bit off topic, we all know those teenagers who suddenly ‘become’ vegetarian because it’s the done thing, what will you do if she does the opposite and turns around at fifteen and announces at the dinner table, “Mama, I can’t eat this. I need MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAT!” ? lmao
I actually don’t think that most children are horrified about eating animals. We are living in the middle east atm where many people keep animals for a period of time then slaughter them and eat them. We had a sheep (well it was my bro-in-law’s) and it was kept on the roof terrace and the children played with him (and became very fond of him!) and the day came when he slaughtered him (all of the children saw this) but no one seemed concerned at all. Then children helped to cut up the meat, and we ate it shortly after, and I do think the children appreciated the process. We only eat halal/kosher anyway which when done properly holds the animals welfare extremely high.
I agree, I don’t think meat-eating is an anathema to littlies, even when they do grasp where meat comes from - it’s part of our evolutionary make-up, so it doesn’t make sense to be disgusted by it. The issue to grapple with is, as Amorinstar says, when does she get to make the decision? It’s one I’m having with my daughter, who’s nearly three - she doesn’t eat sugar, I know that it sends her a bit loopy - she’s starting to get some awareness of that, but doesn’t always know whether something has sugar in or not, so we get these kinds of problems. Right now, I am taking the stance that I am the adult and have more life experience (and have to deal with the consequences) but when I know she is aware that something has sugar in and what the consequences are, and she still wants to eat it, I will have to let her.
Most veggies I know have simply explained the ethical situation (every time the question comes up) and served veggie meals at home, but let their child decide at other places (parties etc). We only eat free range meat, so I’ve also had the “ham sandwich in the supermarket” dilemma, and my response was that we don’t buy meat where the animals aren’t cared for properly. Could you maybe explain that you don’t *buy*, cook or eat meat because of your ethical concerns, but that it is ok for your daughter to try it at friends’ houses?
It’s a minefield, but I wouldn’t worry that your daughter doesn’t have any concerns about eating animals - I really think that comes later, when the “thinking” brain overtakes the “biological urge” brain!
We are raising our ds as vegetarian and he is three also. I am a vegan and my husband is a vegetarian. For us, in situations like this we talk about how the meat is a dead animal, and how it is not nice to kill animals for us to eat. He will always tell people he is vegetarian and will always check before eating anything with me that its ok to eat. He seems satisfyed with this response as for his whole life we have been teaching love and respect for all creatures, and we have animals here too. I don’t know if its different for a boy, especially living in the countryside, as he is exposed to dead animals and knows what death is (we have a lot of poor birds flying into windows here :( )
My boys are quite happy to know they are eating a pig, a chicken etc and don’t seem bothered at all about things dying. I am vegi and I explain to them why, but have always allowed them the choice- they love meat so I provide the best I can (free-range/British/organic or whatever I can afford) and explain why I choose that.
I’ve always wondered how you would explain us-killing-animals-for-food-is-bad-but-animals-killing-other-animals-for-food-is-natural thing… Sorry, taking this slightly off topic! :D
Yes exactly - we have been watching frozen planet with the girls which is brilliant but they have got really upset over some of those scenes where an animal is being chased to be killed, but they haven’t known which side to take, they want the animal to get away when they are watching the chase, but seeing the hungry polar bear go back to it’s cubs without anything to eat, also makes them sad.
Thanks for all your replies, lots of food for thought (scuse the pun I think a lot of people have mentioned the fact that the issue is probably around the dilemma of when a child is capable of making decisions around food. As I said earlier i expected a different response from my daughter regarding meat and I am struggling with this. I have considered that maybe she will want to try meat and end up being a carnivore and I truly believe that she has a right to that despite what I think and feel. To eat meat or not is such a personal thing and I do not think there is right or wrong as people are on different journeys in their lives. BUT my role as guide, teacher etc is to help her with the difficult decisions in life but at 2 1/2 how do you do that? There are lots of families who deny certain foods to their children eg sweets, processed food etc is this going to make them sugar junkies or fast food addicts because they haven’t been allowed to try it? I want to deal with this sensitively without villifying anyone and I do think the main problem for me here is what information to give. As far as us killing animals and other animals killing other animals and explaining this, I have always seen it as a survival issue. We simply don’t need to do it to survive (in our house anyway). We may have in the past and we may need to again in the future if the world as we know it changes.
That’s how I see it too - we don’t need to eat animals, therefore we have the luxury of choice - wild animals don’t get a choice and don’t think the way we do, so that’s very different - they aren’t a civilized society, they are wild.
Anyway, just wanted to add my thoughts as my dd1 did this too - she was intrigued by meat, especially as she was at nursery where others ate it. I used to explain where it came from and get a mixed response from her. I think when she was about 4, I said that if she wanted to try it that was fine, as long as it was good quality and that she understood where it came from - I explained that I don’t eat meat because I don’t want to eat animals but that if she chose to do so, that was up to her. She ate sausages (hmm, great quality?!) for a couple of months, just to be like her friends, I think, and then ate turkey occasionally for the next couple of years. She said she wanted to eat meat, then modified it to white meat only, now she doesn’t eat either - although is sometimes keen because she’s very keen to copy her friends.
I think in the long run, most children do take on their parents values (or totally rebel against them!) to some extent. My parents raised three of us veggie, my sister and I still are, my brother started eating steak at the age of 18 and still eats meat now, but most of his meals are veggie and he’s a great cook with a real awareness of healthy food and how to cook it, which he attributes to the consciousness about food that we grew up with.
I think I’d be wary at 2.5 about whether she really understands what is meant by it - my ds is 3.5 and just laughs at me when I say that’s a chicken in the shop, he tells me not to be so silly, there aren’t any feathers on it. I think children do need to understand where it comes from to have a real choice and I honestly think it’s ok to feed her things that you feel are good, healthy food that fit with your values until you think she’s old enough to choose for herself.
And, of course, I got distracted and forgot what I actually intended to say, which was that although I, too, was really surprised (and a bit horrified, tbh!) by my dd choosing to eat meat and not just accepting my values, I also felt really proud that she was confident enough to speak up and to form her own opinions. Independence, and all that…;)
tbh I think she is 3 and so not really capable of making an informed decision here. I let my older kids (8 and 6) decide if they want to eat meat, but I would not let my 3 year old. I don’t really see that much point. I would just say no, and tell her she can make a decision when she is older. With my older kids I do also check that they actually know that the food contains meat.
I do think it means that meat might end up being a forbidden fruit, but I don’t know how much that matters really. A lifelong decision not to eat animals is based on a moral stance, not a psychological one. If your daughter is going to spend a lifetime not eating meat, she will need to make a moral decision for herself at some point, and there will probably be more to that than whether she likes the taste or is curious about the taste.
I tend to think that once a child is old enough to make an informed choice about meat eating,its not fair to stop them from eating meat.
Both myself & dh ae veggies (as we dont like meat rather than the animal issue) & have been since we were 12 (now 34 & 38). We brought dd & ds up veggie but when they got to 4 they became curious at birthday parties, other peoples houses,shops etc. Initially we did tell them we don’t eat meat but then after a while thought that they are their own person & it is essentially up to them whether they decide to eat it or not.
Dd tried it on a few occassions but only a bite & really dislikes it. ds on the other hand LOVES meat.
What we do now is I cook veggie in the house & OCCASIONALLY buy in chicken,ham etc for sandwiches for school. It is not often mine have cooked school dinners but if they do, ds chooses the meat option. If we eat out or on the odd occasion we have bought a sandwich he chooses meat. He doesn’t moan that there’s no meat in the spag bol etc he just accepts this is the way it is & that he can have meat when the opportunity arises.
I believe that children should respect your values but I also think we should respect their choices.
To me the issue of whether kids should be allowed to choose to eat meat is quite similar to other ethical consumer issues. If our kids want to buy non-recyclable plastic tat, do we allow them to with their own money? How about if they want to spend their pocket money on plastic tat? How about if they are in a shop (ie restaurant equivalent), and, say, school supplies are being bought-do we give them free reign, or do we guide them towards ethical choices, or do we simply tell them that we are not prepared to buy it?
I think an awful lot of this comes down to why you are vegetarian. We as a family don’t eat meat for political and moral reasons, and so its important to me that our family’s money does not go on meat as far as possible. To me its not an individual decision, which can be directly related back to benefits for us-I don’t believe that a vegetarian diet is necessarily healthier. I’m not happy about putting money into the meat industry in exactly the same way that I’m not happy about putting money into sweatshop clothes. This is something I’d be prepared to negotiate with my kids as they get older, and its why I’m not too bothered if they eat meat at someone else’s house.