5 year old niece's concern about eating animals is inconvenient to her mom - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 02-23-2011, 08:00 AM
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This last Thanksgiving, my niece put together the connection between "turkey" the food and "turkey" the animal. She said that she was eating turkey, but not turkey like the animal. Her grandmother informed her that she was in fact eating a turkey. My niece said that's silly because people don't eat animals (and kind of laughed). She said that [family dog] is an animal and we don't eat her. She looked very concerned and sad when she realized her grandmother was serious about the turkey. Her mother saw where this was going and intervened. She said she WILL NOT have a vegetarian child. She explained to her daughter that God put animals on the planet for humans to eat and that it's ok. She said that we eat certain animals, but not others. This made no sense to my 5 year old niece. An animal is an animal in her mind, and she had not realized that people were feeding her animals. Her mother does not want her to be a vegetarian because the rest of her family are heavy meat eaters. She knows that I don't eat animals. I don't advertise it. It is just known. When she asks me about eating animals, what am I supposed to say? I can't NOT answer her questions. I can eat veg food with her without volunteering my point of view just fine, but when she asks about it, I don't know what to say. I don't want to make her mom mad by "brainwashing" her into thinking eating meat is wrong. She's already headed that direction on her own and I want her to decide for herself if eating meat is wrong. I want to give her all of the resources to make her own decision without influencing her. I just wish someone had told me as a child that "chicken" was an actual chicken.
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#2 Old 02-23-2011, 08:27 AM
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When she asks me about eating animals, what am I supposed to say? I can't NOT answer her questions.

Sure you can. Simply tell her that you don't eat animals and if she asks anything that her mother doesn't want her to know about or have discussed with her, simply tell her that (your mommy doesn't want me to discuss this with you, speak to her about it.).

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#3 Old 02-23-2011, 01:17 PM
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...She said that we eat certain animals, but not others. This made no sense to my 5 year old niece. An animal is an animal in her mind, and she had not realized that people were feeding her animals.

It's both beautiful and sad that a 5-year-old child grasps this, yet so many adults don't. You may well wind up being your niece's veggie mentor, even though you weren't responsible for her taking an interest in vegetarianism.

I hope her family doesn't try to put the blame on you! My family was animal-friendly, but wasn't vegetarian. It would have been great if I'd had a vegetarian aunt or uncle...

I agree with *AHIMSA*'s suggestion if your niece brings it up with you for now. You and your niece are going to be in each other's lives, and she'll be able to see what you're doing.

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#4 Old 02-23-2011, 01:22 PM
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This last Thanksgiving, my niece put together the connection between "turkey" the food and "turkey" the animal. She said that she was eating turkey, but not turkey like the animal. Her grandmother informed her that she was in fact eating a turkey. My niece said that's silly because people don't eat animals (and kind of laughed). She said that [family dog] is an animal and we don't eat her. She looked very concerned and sad when she realized her grandmother was serious about the turkey.

Oh wow this was me at her age. I wish I had had another vegetarian in my life then. At least my parents eventually relented and stopped forcing me to eat it.

I'd follow *AHIMSA*'s advice as well.

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#5 Old 02-23-2011, 01:26 PM
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It bothers me that children aren't taught this connection sooner, that the meat on their plate comes from the animal outside. We're very vocal with our child that beef comes from cows. She can make her own choice on what she wants to eat (both her and my partner are omni's), but I want it to be an informed choice.

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#6 Old 02-23-2011, 02:03 PM
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When she asks me about eating animals, what am I supposed to say?

It depends on what kinds of questions. I wouldn't go into slaughter practices with her, but I WOULD tell her that I did not eat animals because I did not want to hurt them (or you can say some supposedly child-friendly crap like, Animals are my friends and I don't eat my friends - even though anyone with the tiniest shred of honesty could admit that eating animals not only hurts them, it kills them). There's a limit to how anyone should have to hide who they are.

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#7 Old 02-23-2011, 03:36 PM
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Well, it's really tricky because no matter what, if she tries to go vegetarian you will be blamed as a trouble-maker and they will say you "brainwashed" her. It's ridiculous, but there it is.

Just be really careful about what exactly you say and keep it very simple, "You asked why I don't eat animals? Well I don't eat animals because animals are my friends." Try not to make people who do eat animals seem like bad people or anything like that, just answer questions honestly in an age-appropriate manner and change the subject so things don't get too complicated. Don't bring up other issues like religion or activism or politics. Be sure to say things like "your mom and dad are really nice people" so she doesn't think that meat-eaters are evil. If you can, try to just make it about trying new, fun healthy foods rather than about anything negative.

Good luck!
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#8 Old 02-23-2011, 07:41 PM
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I think you should only answer the questions she asks, you can not lie to her. If they have a problem with her coming to you and asking, it's their problem not hers or yours. Keep it simple, straight to the point. She is lucky to have you that she can come to.

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#9 Old 02-23-2011, 11:11 PM
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That is a really tough spot to be in. I agree with Ashima's advice. We have had a few of these encounters and they are always awkward. My daughters friends have asked (in front of their parents) and then the parents watch us VERY closely to see what we say.
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#10 Old 02-24-2011, 05:41 AM
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Good advice here. Keep in mind that it is not at all reasonable for a 5 year old to become vegetarian without the support of her parents.
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#11 Old 02-24-2011, 06:22 PM
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Why cant everyone be more child like. Childdren see things in black and white.

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#12 Old 02-24-2011, 06:44 PM
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With all delicate issues simply answer children at their age level as detailed as they ask and in a matter of fact tone. Same with sex questions.

I was like your neice and she has a good chance of making up her own mind when she's a bit older likely because of you being involved in her life.

So if she asks if you eat meat, you answer no. If she asks why not, you answer, for example if it's for health reasons you say so, or if it's because you think it's cruel, you can say "I don't want to hurt the animals". If she asks if you think she is a bad person or other people who eat meat, you say no and that you love her very much.

In time it may be you are the only one she will be able to open up to about this, and perhaps other things. It's so great how caring you are about your neice.
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#13 Old 02-26-2011, 05:43 PM
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You know what stands out here to me as a Christian I am upset that people are using God put Animals here to be eaten. You know if I am correct Man was put here to take care of the animals and to watch over them not to eat them. It was many years down the road that God said it was ok to eat meat. It was never ever intended to have meat all the day of our lives. I am so upset that whomever told this 5 year old that about God putting animals for us to eat is plan wrong. They are confusing this child and she wants to not eat it.
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#14 Old 02-28-2011, 12:51 PM
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It's such a shame that her mother would find it an inconvenience, especially as it would only take a little extra effort to adapt the meals. It's also a shame she didn't ask you for advice on what would be an easy way to make her daughter a vegetarian meal. Do you mind me asking if the mother is your sister or your sister in law?
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#15 Old 03-18-2011, 09:58 PM
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The mother is my stepsister. Yeah, adapting meals would be way too much trouble for her. It's easier to throw the kids a hot dog.
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#16 Old 03-20-2011, 10:48 AM
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The mother is my stepsister. Yeah, adapting meals would be way too much trouble for her. It's easier to throw the kids a hot dog.

Obviously, kids that think for themselves are so much work and so not worth it. (What a sad attitude.)

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#17 Old 03-25-2011, 03:49 PM
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How is "brainwashing" her into becoming a veg any different than her parents brainwashing her with this "God makes some animals for eating and some for other things" crap?

As peaceful said, that's not even a factual Christian mindset, so saving her soul isn't a good argument here.

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#18 Old 03-27-2011, 12:44 PM
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The problem with answering her questions honestly is that her parents may decide she shouldn't see you at all and then she'll have no one to talk to.

Definitely let her know that meat-eaters are good people with different opinions than hers and your own. I stick with, "animals are my friends and I don't eat my friends." That usually illicits a giggle out of small children, but gets the point across clearly.
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#19 Old 03-27-2011, 01:00 PM
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Why cant everyone be more child like. Childdren see things in black and white.

How is that good?

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#20 Old 03-27-2011, 01:03 PM
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How is that good?

This child saw the animal on her plate and equated it to the animals she loves! Most grown ups cant even do that.

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#21 Old 03-27-2011, 01:47 PM
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This child saw the animal on her plate and equated it to the animals she loves! Most grown ups cant even do that.

Well, I would be more inclined to blame that on social conditioning rather than the ability to perceive moral matters in other colors than black or white.

"Hell exists not to punish sinners, but to ensure that nobody sins in the first place."
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#22 Old 04-05-2011, 08:52 AM
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This child saw the animal on her plate and equated it to the animals she loves! Most grown ups cant even do that.

I agree.

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#23 Old 04-05-2011, 11:32 PM
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The mother is my stepsister. Yeah, adapting meals would be way too much trouble for her. It's easier to throw the kids a hot dog.

To make it easier for your stepsister, why don't you show her some simple vegetarian recipes, for all three meals. I know grilled cheese , mac and cheese, (L&D) oatmeal with milk, and peanut butter toast (B). You might try enchilada, lasagna, soup and chili recipes, (L&D) too. I even found a pizza recipe that sounds delicious. You could share with your sister, too. You might even say, "I am bringing (name of dish) to the next family gathering. Should I bring a little extra for Suzie?" and see how that goes. Good luck.

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#24 Old 04-24-2011, 07:19 PM
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I find it awful that adults would hide the truth from children!

I think you should answer her questions but not elaborate. The simple truth is that animals are killed, in an inhumane way, for the sake of meat. So once she knows the truth, how many more questions could there be?

She may ask whether certain animals are eaten, but aren't all animals eaten somewhere in the world?
She may ask why everyone eats animals if it is so cruel, but you could just tell her some people do not think about the harm it is causing the animals.

I think if she sees you as vegetarian, this could be a very positive thing for her.
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#25 Old 05-05-2011, 01:09 PM
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[QUOTE=Tom;2821348]It's both beautiful and sad that a 5-year-old child grasps this, yet so many adults don't.

i love this! but its SO true
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#26 Old 05-13-2011, 10:36 PM
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I raised meat birds when I was little, so I never suffered that misconception. It's one of the reasons my mom didn't mind me going vegetarian, because not only had I done my research, but I had also lived in humane farming situations.

I'd say anser her questions shortly, or just go with the 'I'm not allowed to discuss it' route.

Also, if you get the chance and she's more open, talk about meal plans that exclude or cut back on meat with her mother
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#27 Old 05-13-2011, 11:03 PM
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Sure you can. Simply tell her that you don't eat animals and if she asks anything that her mother doesn't want her to know about or have discussed with her, simply tell her that (your mommy doesn't want me to discuss this with you, speak to her about it.).

I like this answer, but you're on thin ice. It would suck for her mother to get offended.
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#28 Old 05-14-2011, 07:39 PM
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Also, although her mother might not appreciatge it, at five years old she's somewhere between kindergarten and grade one, I assume? Tell her she should ask her teachers about where meat comes from- they might sugarcoat how farms are, or not know, but they probably will have the sense to tell her it's from animals. Or you could even call and see, they teach some nutrition in early grade classes (to make sure that kids who get to pick what they eat have some idea what they'e doing), you could ask her teacher to touch on where meat comes from.

If you think her mother's lying to her to a harmful extent, you could talk to her father about why it concerns you, or even, again, call her school and explain it- I doubt that would go over so badly, it's not any different than informing them of another good/bad/awkward situation at home. It's like how some kids aren't taught anything about puberty at home, then unless they're told at school, girls especially have confusing changes happen without understanding (think Carrie, but it actually happens).

Of course, that's a lot more extreme and I'd only suggest it if, as I said, her mother's being completely harmful in her lying- you don't want to change her kid's morals through the school, but facts like that meat is animals are true, not anything to do with morality.
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