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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello there,

I am new to the boards and pretty new to being a veg (in my 4th month now). We started this journey at my 8 year old daughter's request. She came to me and told me that she didn't know if she felt comfortable with the killing of animals for food. I said I'd go veg with her as my new year's resolution and I began doing some research. After understanding the horrors of factory farming, I quite eating meat immediately and put my 6 year old on a veg diet, too. We're loving it!

Anyway, I love books and worked hard to find some great titles for my kids as holiday gifts. We're Buddhist as well, so what follows is an odd hodge-podge of veggie cookbook for kids, books about the social pressures of being a vegetarian kid, books that help teach children tolerance for other cultures, books for building personal ethics and my favorite Buddhist texts. I like to call it my list of favorite books for "free-thinking" children...hope that at least a few of these might appeal to similar families.

If The World Were A Village: An incredibly original book that presents an astounding amount of data in a fun way that appeals to young children. The perfect way to expand your children's horizons by helping them understand just how big a world they live in.

If You Had To Choose, What Would You Do: Designed for ages 8-12, this book presents a series of short stories designed to help children identify and define their personal values. Each tale highlights a dilemma and ends with a thought-provoking question designed to encourage discussion with your children. Great bedtime reading…

A Boy And A Bear: Sometimes all that thinking before bed can make the wee ones a tad restless. The treasure in this simple book will not be found in fancy text or wildly imaginative illustrations. The beauty of this book lies within the simple breathing technique it teaches your child; designed to help them relax and become more peaceful and centered, it's a great bedtime story when they need a bit of calming. I see endless nights ahead: just me, my 6 year-old and this book.

Children Just Like Me: This oversized volume uses colorful photographs of children from around the globe to educate children about different cultures. Each 2-page spread details a different child and highlights everything from what their houses look like, to how they pray and what their favorite playthings are.

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon: A wild tale about a lone vegetarian dragon that lives amongst the carnivores. Herb brought peace to the forest of Nogard by bringing together the vegetarians and meat-eaters to live in harmony. I love the colorful illustrations in this one…

Benji Beansprout Doesn't Eat Meat: Along those same lines, this is a great book for budding vegetarians. Brave little Benji endures a good bit of scorn at the lunch table thanks to his personal beliefs about eating meat. When Benji's mom serves up a vegetarian lunch for the class, the kids quickly change their tune. A wonderful tool for empowering children to handle peer pressure successfully while empowering them to articulate their beliefs.

Kindness, A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom For Children And Parents: More than 150 pages of short stories based upon the famed Jataka tales, these ancient tales take children on a colorful journey to learn the true meaning of happiness and kindness. It may take us all year to get through this large volume, but I think we'll enjoy every minute of it.

The Organic Farm: This simple tale belies its important message: that the quality of the food we consume is as important as what we consume. Curious little Brian takes an eye-opening journey to a local farm and learns a great deal in the process. The author sprinkles the book with eye-opening facts about nutrition.

A Life Like Mine: Sponsored by UNICEF, this gorgeous volume is a social studies unit rolled up in a veil of compassion. To quote the publisher: "children from around the world describe the simple and sometimes remarkable things that enable them to lead a good life." I think I'm looking forward to diving into this book more than any other.

The Coconut Monk: Written by respected Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, this beautifully illustrated tale highlights the life of an actual Vietnamese monk who sets a remarkable example of how the world can live in peace. Nhat Hanh has authored numerous books for children and I don't think you can wrong with any of them, but this is an inspiring starting point.

The Vegetarian Family Cookbook: In the same vein, this is the best vegetarian cookbook I've encountered thus far. It's chock full of fabulous recipes, including family classics and some more exotic fare. More than 300 recipes and a great reference section.

Hubert The Pudge: A cute tale of how a mythical creature known as a "pudge" convinces the farmer to stop killing his animals and raise veggies instead.

Kids Around The World Celebrate: My absolute favorite book of the bunch. Each chapter spends a few pages detailing a feast or festival from another culture- explaining the traditions and how they are special to the people. Each chapter concludes with 1 recipe for a traditional food used in the celebration and 1 relevant craft activity. My kids absolutely love this book!

Kids Can Cook Vegetarian: Super-simple recipes your veggie kids can make themselves.

So do I get an award for longest post ever?
 

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I cannot believe your story about your 8 year old! I wish my parents had been like you. It was at age 8 that I myself became very sad over how animals are treated on this planet (became vegetarian at 12). I would cry for hours on end, and I think one reason I ended up dysthymic (chronic low-grade depression) for the rest of my life is because my parents acted like something was wrong with me. NO OZNE in my life understood or truly sympathized, nevermind seriously considered my points. They'd say, "You can't change the world" and "Just do what little you can in your own way. What's the point of being miserable?" My parents refused to consider not eating meat (they still eat pigs, which they know are my favorite animals, in front of me all the time). They've always just argued all those lame, trite excuses that make no sense, and then got angry at me when they didn't work, saying over and over, "You just don't want to be happy; that's your problem." They did let me write letters to important people on behalf of animals, but that wasn't exactly enough. At least they bought me the ingredients, but I had to cook all my own vegetarian meals. In other words, I felt very, very much alone in my compassion and concerns (and like something was wrong with me) until I was a young adult! Mine weren't the worst parents for an animal-conscious kid, but the pain still lingers and I'm 35 now.

In therapy a couple of years ago, my therapist had me imagine "ideal parents" who would have dealt with me the way I needed. I imagined my parents writing letters *with me* and *praising me* for my compassion and concern and even my sadness (as opposed to blaming me for "not wanting to be happy" and "refusing to be happy"). I notice you are Buddhist. Interestingly, I also imagined my parents giving me some eastern type of philosophical advice, such as: "Perhaps you and we cannot make a huge difference, but we can act according to our own conscience, and that is a very important thing to do, in and of itself," or "We are responsible only for trying to change the world in a positive way, not for succeeding." I also envisioned my parents giving me some historical perspective about how all great ideas--women's suffrage, civil rights, etc.--take many, many years to develop into the societal mainstream, and how it was often hard for early proponents of those great causes to see they were making any difference at all during their own lives.

Gosh, it didn't even occur to me to imagine my parents becoming vegetarian or reducing their meat consumption! Talk about a fantasy! You are teaching your daughter that she is not alone in her concerns, that voicing her convictions can affect positive change in other people, and that she is valued. She will internalize these feelings of well-being, even in the face of rejection from others (which everyone experiences in life). In other words, she will be resilient. Had I not felt so isolated and powerless, I might have been able to actually enjoy my life and not let the sh*t in this world get me so very depressed. After all, the opposite of depression (isolation and powerlessness) is a sense of power and personal value.

I don't want you to think I am just enthusiastic about your decision to go veggie--there is something even deeper here that's at work. It's your being open to and respecting your 8-year-old child's ideas and convictions, whatever they may be. (And congratulations on raising such a compassionate kid in such a violent, selfish and cruel world!) I just wanted to let you know what a fantastic mother you are!

P.S. Thanks for the book recommendations; I've printed them out for my own kids!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You just made me cry kaodjs1! Thank you for your kind words of support. Chloe (my daughter) is a groovy kid with such strong ideals at a tender age. I am very proud of her, though I don't think it's fair to take credit for her...I swear she came out of the womb both intensely headstrong and incredibly compassionate.
I am sorry to hear that your parents were not more supportive...it's amazing to think of how intrinsically deep we all harbor those feelings from our formative years. Parents hold so much power and I have to constantly remind myself of that. The good news for you kaodjs1, is that you know have a chance to break that cycle and support your children. I have found that "fixing" some of what was "broken" with my parent's parenting helps me to heal the wounds form my past. At least I know that I'm not perpetuating those same issues...

Chloe knows that I am anti-war. I call myself a Reformed Republican (
) and we often discuss current affairs. I try, as best I can, to present the logic behing both sides of an argument, then I tell her how I feel and then I ask her to think on the issue to develop her own opinions. We saw a group of peace marchers yesterday here in Columbia (and let me tell ya- in 3 years, that's the first time we saw that). We waved and honked and made a show of support for them on our way to the local veg grocery store. While inside, Chloe found chocolates in the bulk section - they were balls of chocolate wrapped in foils that made them look like little earths. She asked if she could use some of her allowance money to buy them to go hand out to the peace marchers as a show of support. I said I'd pay half.


Anyway, we went back to the march site, but they were gone...she was so bummed. I told her I'd research to see if we had a local peace group, but that I wasn't aware of one (I, myself, have felt a tad lonely in this city). On the way home, we were stopped at a stoplight and she started shrieking because she noticed an anti-war poster attached to a utility pole at the stoplight. I got out and grabbed it and researched the rally it was for once we got home. She wanted to go so badly, to feel like we were making a difference rather than just sitting around complaining. So I booked us a trip to DC next weekend to participate in a huge peace rally and she is so excited. I am trying to get some "My First Political Rally" t-shirts made up and delivered in time. Ha!

Y'all, our kids are gonna rule the world one day!
 

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I find some interesting kids books on the websites of various organizations that share your values. Be careful, though, some of them seem to be indoctrinating type things, so read reviews on amazon or try to get them from a library. For example, I will not be reading "Why mommy is a democrat" to my child. (real book title.)

Some ones to try might be liberal religions like Quakers, Unitarians or United Church of Christ, Humanist or Atheist organizations, and for books about tolerance, I know there are tolerance orgs out there or groups like Unicef or Oxfam might have reading lists, too. I know Farm Sanctuary sells some kids books.

Of course some of the best mainstream books teach these values as well (like Charlotte's Web, many Dr. Suess), that's where discussion comes in.

ETA- here's a nice link from teaching tolerance http://www.tolerance.org/parents/storytime.jsp
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That is a great link Thalia...I'm going to spend some time digging through it tonight!

And, as a self-avowed democrat, I think that Why Mommy Is A Democrat book is hideous!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yikes Tame...was that really necessary? Several books on my list focus on other cultures with diets, religions and daily activites that vary greatly from my own. And judging how I raise my kids from a single post isn't exactly what I'd call "free-thinking" anyway.


Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed today?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by lelab View Post

Yikes Tame...was that really necessary? Several books on my list focus on other cultures with diets, religions and daily activites that vary greatly from my own. And judging how I raise my kids from a single post isn't exactly what I'd call "free-thinking" anyway.
Where did I judge anyone?

You made the comment about "free thinking", not I.
 

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Didn't the post start with lelab saying that her daughter came to her asking to be vegetarian? The kid made the decision on her own, from the sounds of it.

Lelab also told us how she tries to explain both sides to a story - a pretty "free thinking" way to raise your children I'd say!

Leave her alone.


Lelab, I think you're doing a great job - if more parents were like you the world would be a better place.
 
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