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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
as my toddler amasses more and more board books, as we memorize more and more nursery rhymes, and as we become more and more immersed in pbs's morning line-up, the vegan AR mama in me becomes more and more alarmed by the way animals are portrayed and presented to young kids. ever notice how farms specifically are everywhere in kid's literature and songs? ever notice the dominant assumption that cows exist to be milked, and that hens exist to have their eggs plucked out from under them? and further more, that these animals are happy that this is the case?<br><br><br><br>
i have been getting very bothered by all this, and have been thinking about the functions this particular brand of mythos serves, specifically, how it naturalizes the exploitation of animals for very young children. how it all romantizes, reproduces and perpertuates very erroneous conceptions of what farming is like, how it helps sustain (for children and adults alike) the falsehood that Old Macdonald still has his farm, and on it happy animals smile and frolick in sunny, clover sweet meadows, when the reality, the industrial horror that is modern corperate farming, is so very different.<br><br><br><br>
the thread on vegan kids got me thinking about how raising our children vegan has so much more to do with what we give them to eat and wear, etc. that it has to do with combatting so much dominant ideology. i know that studies have concluded that something like 80% of what children under 5 dream about is animal related, so it serves to reason that the popularity of agrarian themes has sustained the test of time because it appeals to what children love. but i can't help but be dismayed by the feeling that all this stuff serves a larger, almost propaganda-like function. it seems to me as though consuming flesh and exploiting animals for human profit and convenience are, in fact, very unnatural and thus children, starting from infancy, must be indoctrinated into a mindset that justifies and naturalizes said exploitations.<br><br><br><br>
alright, i am getting redundant and rambly here and basically just thinking out loud, so i'll stop. anyone else have any thoughts one this?
 

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Very good, observant thoughts miss gulch. Thank you for pointing this stuff out. I have always believe that we need to give our children our own stories, rather than mindlessly transmit the stories of the dominant, and animal-dominating, culture.<br><br><br><br>
I don't know what "board-books" are but I was very selective about what books I got for my son. And it never occurred to me to sit around and memorize nursery rhymes. What is the point of going over "Jack and Jill" ad-infinitum? If we want our children to memorize verse, I think we should have our children memorize the Dhammapada. Much of it is quite simple enough for young children. I've read that this is what is done, in some places.<br><br><br><br>
==========<br><br>
What we are is the result of what we have thought. Pain follows bad thoughts the way the wheel of a cart follows right behind any draft-ox that draws it.<br><br><br><br>
What we are is the result of what we have thought. Happiness follow good thoughts the way your shadow always and ever follows you.<br><br><br><br>
Whoever, seeking their own happiness, hurts another being who also longs for happiness, will not find happiness as a result.<br><br><br><br>
Whoever, seeking their own happiness, does not hurt another being who also longs for happiness, will find happiness as a result.
 

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I too, noticed how much is disinformation is put out to our kids. I am a mother of a 3yr old and whenever there is a "milk" reference in one of his books, I say soymilk. As far as TV goes, ugh. It's horrible. We don't have cable, but at my in-laws, when he watches cartoons, every commercial is geared toward processed foods and dairy products. There are so many fast-food commercials. That is a big reason we don't have cable. Even PBS now has "commercial" endorsements from Spagetti-o's and Dannon Yoghert. I trd explain to my son that what they show on tv is from animals, and we have vegan kinds that we eat, and he's been fine with that.<br><br><br><br>
There are a few vegan-based kids books out there, check out <a href="http://www.vegfamily.com" target="_blank">www.vegfamily.com</a> . There's one about organic gardening, one about a vegetarian dragon, ect. Also check out <a href="http://www.veganbooks.safeshopper.com" target="_blank">www.veganbooks.safeshopper.com</a> they have a selection of vegan kid's books and music.
 

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because dr seus is so good in so many ways and so universally popular, it was particularly sad to see his ending to How the Grinch Stole Christmas.<br><br><br><br>
After the Grinch has a change of hearts, and wants to give presents instead of steal them, the last line, exemplifying his change of heart, is close to this:<br><br><br><br>
===============<br><br>
and he, the Grinch, <b>he</b> carved the roast beast!<br><br>
============<br><br><br><br>
symbolizing passing out presents, and love, to those around him, in the form of passing out slices of beast. Wouldn't it have been nicer to have he, the Grinch, <b>he</b> scooped out the squash meat?
 

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Good point, Soilman.<br><br><br><br>
There's a really cool book by Dav Pilkey called "The Night Before Thanksgiving." A bunch of schoolkids go on a field trip to a turkey farm and they all end up taking turkeys home with them for Thanksgiving dinner. Not to eat for Thanksgiving dinner, but to share a meal with. Very cool.
 

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i've had this problem with my kids, too. it's not just books. it's everything. thank goodness for the movie "babe". <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/wink3.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=";)"><br><br><br><br>
dr. seuss is particularly insidious because his stories are so catchy and otherwise wonderful. curse you, green eggs and ham!<br><br><br><br>
i try very hard to explain to my son (and i will to my daughter, too, as she gets old enough to understand it) that these books and movies simply mirror the way the world is (in that exploiting animals is considered normal and even the 'natural' way to do things) but that they also lie to us.<br><br><br><br>
i think he gets it.
 

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Here is a story for you to share with your children, if you like. It is a TRUE story and my children like it a lot.<br><br><br><br>
When I was a young girl I had a horse named Kilo. He was an older horse and he didn't run very fast and because of this my brother called him "The Plug" but he was very gentle and sweet and I loved him more than I could have loved any other horse. Food was the most important thing in the world to him. He loved his oats so much that he would lick his bucket to get the very last oat.<br><br><br><br>
Kilo spent his days grazing in the pastures or standing under the shade trees. The only time he would run was when I called him for his oats...and really that was more of a trot.<br><br><br><br>
Then one day there was a storm. It rained very hard and there was thunder and lightening, but it was a school day, so I had to go.<br><br><br><br>
Later that morning, while I was in school and my mother was home she heard Kilo start to whiney. He whinnied again and again and she thought to herself "I wonder why he is doing that.<br><br>
What a silly horse." But, he didn't stop, so finally she went to check. He looked fine, so she started to go back in the house, but as soon as she turned around he REALLY WHINNIED LOUD and then took a few steps away from her.<br><br><br><br>
He was acting like he wanted her to follow him. JUST LIKE LASSIE! She thought it was silly, but because Kilo was normally such a calm horse, she deiced to follow him.<br><br><br><br>
He trotted down the lane, urging her to hurry to keep up with his whinnies. She followed him until suddenly he stopped and she couldn't believe what she saw! Another horse had fallen into a drainage ditch and she was almost totally under water, just her head was out!<br><br><br><br>
All of the other horses stood grazing nearby, as if nothing was wrong, but Kilo alone had gone for help!!<br><br><br><br>
My mother called a man with a crane and they hoisted "Bonnie" out of the ditch and her life was saved. But we all knew Kilo was the real hero, because if he hadn't called over and over to my mother no one would have found Bonnie until it was too late.<br><br>
Kilo was a hero!<br><br><br><br>
When I got home from school and heard what Kilo had done, I ran out to see him. I hugged him and of course I gave him a big bucket of oats. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This may be getting too off topic, but this seems a lot like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and those things. You have to take the same approach, anyway, if you're a non-Santa family. Explain to your kids that sure, the kids next door believe that Santa gave them their presents, but that's just a story that people made up and now parents tell it to their kids. They aren't TRYING to be mean, they just don't really know any better. I guess that's how I'll explain it, anyway, lol.<br><br><br><br>
I think since most kids DO love animals so much, like Miss Gulch pointed out, it's probably easier to teach your kids that the farms aren't nice to animals than it is to teach other adults. But I can imagine it's still pretty hard.
 

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I have nothing really to contribute to this thread, I just wanted to say that it's interesting to read this.<br><br><br><br>
I'm very interested in way ideas and memes spread in societies and this is I think indeed a prime example of it and explains why and how humans get the idea that it's OK to abuse animals, at an early age.<br><br><br><br>
Thanks muss gulch for starting it and your good post.<br><br><br><br>
Beautiful story, mushroom <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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"Food was the most important thing in the world to him. He loved his oats so much that he would lick his bucket to get the very last oat."<br><br><br><br>
Sounds just like me.
 

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Actually, fairy tales and folk tales very much are a tool to teach a child what is acceptable in society, how to behave, think, accept gender roles etc. Part of my studies look at the treatment of the wolf in folktales and the wider symbolic implication of tales like Little Red Riding Hood. It is very much an ideology machine. Many of these tales were around in some form or other before the big corporate nasties set up so I doubt it's a planned thing as such but more of a way to justify the exploitation of animals to little children who probably asked about it. As such beliefs are internalised they are harder to be rid of.<br><br><br><br>
So you're definitely onto something... maybe you should do some research on it? It'd make an interesting paper...
 

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He he, this thread reminded me on that song Phoebe sings to the schoolkids in Friends:<br><br><br><br>
"Oh the cow in the meadow goes moo<br><br>
Oh the cow in the meadow goes moo<br><br>
Then the farmer hits him on the head and grinds him up<br><br>
And that's how we get hamburgers"<br><br><br><br>
Cracked me up even before I was veggie.
 

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But aren't there just as many stories and movies that portray animals with human characteristics? Which is more accurate, Old McDonald having a farm with cows, pigs, horse, geese, zebras, etc. or a pig and a duck conspiring to destroy an alarm clock?
 

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LOL, Moomin. I sing that song to the kids at church. They think I'm kind of weird.<br><br><br><br>
Vick--I've seen a pig and a duck conspiring to destroy an alarm clock more times than I care to remember.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
vick vega, absolutely. and mainly, the anthropomorphic angle only adds to my distress. yes, there are certainly tales of animals who rebel against slaughter, but they are few and far between. often, the underlying message is that these creatures are cognizant of their fates and functions (esp. the happy milk cows and the smiling hens who lay eggs) and except this as the natural order of things. the cow delights in the farmer's squeezing of her teats, the hen cheerfully relinquishes her eggs. if anything, i think it could be said that the lean towards anthropomorphisism underscores not our sameness with other animals, but rather, our (constructed and construed) <i>otherness</i>.<br><br><br><br>
edited because i made an analogy that didn't sit well with me.<br><br>
as much as i believe in the liberation of animals, equating animal exploitation as analogous to the plight of human beings who have been brutalized and oppressed by other humans still seems to degrade and belittle the history of oppressed peoples.
 

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But if a more accurate and realistic view of farm life were to result in more compassion for farm animals, I would expect to see a lot of veg*ns that were raised on farms. Is this the case? What percentage of the members on this board would you guess grew up on a farm?<br><br><br><br>
I think the anthropomorphic aspects allows kids to relate better with animals which results in a more compassionate view. Perhaps this is offset by the sanitized view of the barnyard, but I feel the overall effect would still be slanted towards animal rights, not propaganda opposing it. At the very least it lays the ground work of empathy when the child is ready to be confronted with some of the disturbing aspects of farmlife.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by vick vega</i><br><br><b>Muppetcow,<br><br>
I have too, but that's only because my kid loves the movie.</b></div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
Smart kid.
 

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whats wrong with Santa Claus? I am just curious why some people ban his story from their homes. I don't think its a big deal, and believing in him was always so fun as a kid!!
 
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