How do I explain it to my kids? (being vegetarian) - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 09-18-2006, 06:07 PM
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I have a lot of problems being vegetarian. There aren't any other veggies in my area and I know that my 6 year old, Torri, thinks it's very strange. Her father has been trying to feed her meat behind my back. She knows that I don't like that, so she always comes home and tells me about it.



What I need is some advice as to how I can explain why we don't eat meat without traumatizing her for life or making the meat-eaters look like absolute monsters!



It's very frustrating. I've told her that we don't eat it because the animal has to die. She doesn't seem to fully understand, though. Torri has some behavior problems and I don't believe that she has fully developed a sense of empathy yet, so understanding 'right' and 'wrong' like we do is something she just can't do.



She stole some meat from grandma's plate once and said, "Oh! What's this? I like this!" When it was explained to her, she just didn't seem to really care and she asked for more.



I had a person suggest taking her to a butcher shop, but not only do I believe that that's too extreme, but I don't think I could handle it myself.



Any advice?
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#2 Old 09-18-2006, 07:26 PM
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Well your child is not the issue here really IMO, her dad sneaking her meat and you saying it is wrong is sending the poor kid some pretty big mixed signals which I'm sure you already know but being so young it will be hard on her to understand about the animals dieing.



My advise to you would be feed her as you personaly see fit and have a talk with her father!

In the end though she is going to choose for herself.
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#3 Old 09-18-2006, 08:07 PM
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Her father and aren't together. She was going over to his house for some weekends. I'm not allowing that anymore for the simple fact that he had agreed not to do it and then he did.



I don't even cook meat in the house. I'm just worried that her point of view will be that I'm crazy because I'm not like everyone else. I thought she could at least have a vague understanding of why we say it's wrong, but I really don't think that she does...
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#4 Old 09-18-2006, 08:33 PM
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She won't think you're crazy. Parents define values for their children; that's your job. I wouldn't worry about her opinion of you in that sense.



There are so many ways that individuals don't "fit in" with "everyone else." It's a myth that most humans are somehow the same, and there are just a few oddballs. She may as well learn that lesson and how to deal with it now (before "everyone" in her group starts doing drugs or smoking, or she meets gay people or different ethnicities, etc).



I don't think a butcher shop is traumatic for most kids, especially ones who are somewhat insensitive. Butcher shops are normalized for many kids and they go there with their parents regularly.

"If you want to know where you would have stood on slavery before the civil war, don't look at where you stand on slavery today, look at where you stand on animal rights." - Paul Watson.

 

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#5 Old 09-18-2006, 08:35 PM
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Oh I would not worry about her thinking you are crazy, most children really idolize thier mom's.

My little girl who just turned 7 years old gets offended for me if someone offers me meat.

She is funny and will pipe up, my mommy is a veggertarin ( thats how she says it) )



Do not worry about things being normal, normal is overrated anyway.

I live in Texas , meat country and yeah we get funny looks but kids are pretty neat and they listen more than you think they do and tend to want to at least at that age be like mommy.



My oldest is high functioning Autistic, she does not get ethical or moral reasons for not eating meat but she does get the health aspect, you can of course try another angle of attempting to tell your child why you do not eat meat.

Ethical is hard for a child to understand but health often is not.
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#6 Old 09-18-2006, 10:27 PM
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Honestly I don't think you should keep her from visiting her dad on weekends just because he eats meat and offers it to her. That in my opinion is extreme. It sends a message that daddy is doing something wrong or bad. I have a 6 yr old. I am married to an omni, I just let my kids choose for themselves. we eat vegetarian in the home, when we go out to eat all bets are off for them, my hubby will eat animals, my dd sometimes will, most times doesnt, my son never does. so i just let them eat what they want, they know the deal, mommy doesnt eat animals daddy does sometimes, no one is more right or wrong than the other, at least thats the message i send. its a choice. i would never tell them daddy is wrong or mommy is right, etc.

i would just live vegetarian at home as always and when she is with her dad let her choose.
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#7 Old 09-18-2006, 11:22 PM
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my daughter is 6 and doesnt eat meat at home, but probally eats a bit of chicken at grandmas. she wasnt raised vegetarian, so i am letting her make her own choices. she has stopped eating most meat on her own. i basically tried to explain that meat, dairy and eggs are full of things that can make her sick. (she wanted to know why me and her little brother dont eat it) that turned her off and she loves our chickens, and once she found out that chicken breasts were once like the chickens in our yard, that was it for her. she does slip and order chicken tenders at a resturant but im trying to leave it to her. i dont serve any animal products at home though.
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#8 Old 09-19-2006, 02:04 AM
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Heh, that'd be hard.



You're all pretty much saying kids will idolize their parents to the point, which isn't always true. A lot of kids get all embarassed and emotional if someone in their family, notably a parent is "weird" or something. Thought that's usually when they're a bit older, teens.



Since, as you say, your daughter hasn't full on empathy maybe you should do something that's a bit "more", a little extreme. Taking her to a butcher shop might not do much really. I mean, seeing dead meat isn't exactly that interesting, nor heartfelt. It's dead. Now if you see a real live animal, connect with it, play with it and then you see it hurt or dead, now that would be make a huge deal. Hehe, however no one would be willing to do that. It was just a point.



Is your daughter around animals? I think being around animals is very important for children. It sets a point to them that animals do have feelings, they feel pain, they are loving, they're family. Children do not want their family to be hurt, therefore they do no want their animals to be hurt. Letting them get to know animals that are most commonly used as meat, chickens, pigs, cows, would be great. They are great animals. Baby ones especially. So cute. ^_^



Anyway, letting your daughter know them, and telling her that this is what meat is, that people eat them, that they die to be food might be a decent way to put it. Making a connection, eh.



As for the dad... taking her away was pretty insensitive itself, but him doing that was pretty rude as well. Give him bounds. Tell him not to give her meat, but you can't force her not to eat meat. That might make her resent you. You know, the whole rebellious thing. I'd say have a talk with the dad. Whatever good that might do. =/



Good luck with it! I hope it goes well.
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#9 Old 09-19-2006, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonoluvr View Post

mommy doesnt eat animals daddy does sometimes, no one is more right or wrong than the other



I understand the pragmatic difficulty that you face. However, for those who value animals in the slightest, it indeed is "wrong" to create the market for factory farmed restaurant meat. Those animals suffer every freaking minute of their lives. Family harmony is a great goal. But forcing an animal into lifelong torture because someone likes the way that bacon tastes is wrong (at least by my ethics).



It's possible to love someone who makes unethical choices, but I wouldn't whitewash those choices. I don't know how people make factory farming "not wrong" ethically in their own minds.

"If you want to know where you would have stood on slavery before the civil war, don't look at where you stand on slavery today, look at where you stand on animal rights." - Paul Watson.

 

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#10 Old 09-20-2006, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
What I need is some advice as to how I can explain why we don't eat meat without traumatizing her for life or making the meat-eaters look like absolute monsters!

...

I've told her that we don't eat it because the animal has to die.



That's what I tell my daughter. That and that we don't need to eat meat to be healthy. I don't see a more gentile explaination.



Quote:
She doesn't seem to fully understand, though.



I'm sure she will in time. My daughter seems to get it but doesn't seem to have her own opinion yet.



Quote:
I had a person suggest taking her to a butcher shop, but not only do I believe that that's too extreme



I don't think you need to do that. Just give her more time. When she gets old enough to understand you can teach her more about vegetarianism. Maybe your daughter won't see many other vegetarians in her life but she will learn that there are many other vegetarians in the world (I'm sure there must be 100s of millions).



As long as she is living with you you can give her vegetarian food but you never know; it's possible your daughter will later choose to be an omnivore. There really isn't much you can do about it if she does. She sees just about everyone else eating meat and she might choose to eat meat.
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#11 Old 09-20-2006, 07:15 PM
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I know some children don't get that meat is the actual animal. As in, "Some cows give us milk and some cows give us meat."



Maybe your daughter doesn't realize that meat is the animal's actual body part. I think that I'd explain that to her, if she doesn't already understand.



You don't have to make all that graphic, either.
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#12 Old 09-21-2006, 12:04 PM
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Does your daughter have a pet, or like any animal in particular? Take her to a pet store, or drive by a farm or anywhere with animals of any kind.. My son is 4 and it helps him when I explain that our dogs/cats/horses and bird are just like chickens/cows/and pigs. They have feelings when you accidently step on them or close their tail in the door or whatever. They get sad when we have to leave them and go to work or school and they get happy when pet/love/ or feed them. I tell them they cannot protect themselves or take care of themselves and that it is our job to help our furry friends. We obviously do not eat or hurt our friends. Then I explain that meat comes from animals and I think its sad that people eat them , when they could be healthier and the animals happier by eating veg! This may be a little young for your daughter, but it has worked with my son, and now he is always telling people that he does not eat his friends!!!! Hpoe this helps. Try using empathy for animals that she knows, or can see. Pictures of aniamls help too!

April
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#13 Old 09-28-2006, 02:05 PM
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Maybe explain that animals have families and when one gets taken away to be killed for meat, that the other famliy members really miss them and they're sad.



Is there a Vegan Meetup thing like that around you? I know you're not vegan, but if you could at least meet one other family with kids who are veg, it would help.



You could visit a Farm where they take in animals and care for them. If your daughter could hang out with farm animals, learn to like them, maybe she won't want to eat them.
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#14 Old 09-29-2006, 12:22 PM
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I must be an odd ball but I would be furious if someone gave my child meat. Meat to me is equal to poison. That said I have explained it very gently to my 3 year old daughter why we don't eat meat. I told her that meat comes from animals and they have to die for people to eat it. I explained that you don't have to kill animals to eat healthy and we "our family" believe it is wrong to kill animals because they have souls just like us. If you ask her why we are vege she says because meat is disgusting and dead. lol. We have playdates with non vege children and I just explained that other families have different ideas about animals and food. She hasn't been rude or mean about it to her friends.
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#15 Old 10-01-2006, 04:49 PM
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I would be furious too. But there is nothing you can do about it. Just be consistent with your own beliefs at home and maybe if you minimize it with your ex he won't use the meat to get to you...I am guessing this may be his motivation?
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#16 Old 10-01-2006, 10:57 PM
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You are in a tough situation. I think rjensen is right, and you should stick to your ideals at home. I also think you should be careful not to be judgemental of her father in front of her - that will only force her to take sides between the two of you when she gets older, and that's a great way to screw up a kid.
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