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Hi, I had a question for older vegetarians, preferably ones who are married or have children or both. I have been vegetarian for maybe eight years now. I dropped meat in high school as a freshman. It was imortant for me because it felt like something I needed to do for myself. I am an easy going person, and I sometimes fear and feel like I get pushed around. I like to help others as much as possible, but I sometimes get nervous I will be more of a doormat if I am not careful. I became vegetarian because I wanted to prove to myself I could make a decision. I did it because I wanted to show that I could commit to something for nobody but me and that I could accomplish this goal no matter what anybody else said. It was an important part of my maturing process. It's been fine ever since until the past few years I've been questioning. I am now engaged, and so far things have been pretty good with regard to eating. My fiancee's sister was vegetarian, so it has been easy to avoid meat when we eat the same food. The problem now is looking to the future, in particular thinking about children. We both want to have children and neither of us want to raise them vegetarian--it was a personal choice for me and I have no right to force that on theoretical children. The concern is how to avoid meat as a family. My fiancee and I both want to eat communally as a family, so I am not sure how to foster a culture of unity without forcing my vegetarianism on others. Any advice vegetarian parents? Additionally, it gets into broader issues. For example, my fiancee loves Japanese culture, and we hope to visit Japan at points in our life together. She is nervous I would be able to find meat free food there. Even if I could find meat free food there, can you understand Japanese cultures without eating fish? Questions, questions. I guess the concern I have is looking to the future and the developments that my life will take. I don't know if it is selfish to be vegetarian because of who I was in high school. There are bigger things out there than my highschool self, but I am nervous about where the line is between my identity as an individual, and my larger future identities as a husband and father. Any advice older vegetarians? How has your life course gone with relation to vegetarianism? Thanks so much, have a great day!
 

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I'm sixty and have been a vegetarian since my early thirties. However, I became vegetarian because I believe it is wrong to take a life merely to satisfy my palate. There is no way I can justify that act.

No meat is prepared or served in this house, but plenty of good food is.

As far as children are concerned - if you start feeding your children meat at a young age, you are "forcing" them to be meat eaters just as much as you would be "forcing" them to be vegetarians if you serve them no meat. Really, there is no difference in the "force" that is used in the two scenarios. Naturally, they will make their own choices as they start to grow up and go out into the world.

As for your question about being able to understand Japanese culture without eating fish - I am born German, and for Germans, sausages are just as important as fish is to Japanese cuisine, and I can tell you it is not necessary to eat sausage in order to understand German culture or to BE German. Likewise, it's not necessary to eat fish in order to understand Japanese culture or to be Japanese. In fact, it's actually perfectly possible to be German and to be vegetarian, to be Japanese and to be vegetarian, etc.
 

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As far as children are concerned - if you start feeding your children meat at a young age, you are "forcing" them to be meat eaters just as much as you would be "forcing" them to be vegetarians if you serve them no meat. Really, there is no difference in the "force" that is used in the two scenarios. Naturally, they will make their own choices as they start to grow up and go out into the world.
Agree. Every choice you make on behalf of your children, involves 'force' (though I would balk at using such a pejorative term to describe something that is actually beneficial to them).

Every parent has a responsibility to 'force' their children to do things that are good for them. And that includes providing good nutrition, of which a vegetarian diet can be one of the best from a health perspective.
 

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For example, my fiancee loves Japanese culture, and we hope to visit Japan at points in our life together. She is nervous I would be able to find meat free food there. Even if I could find meat free food there, can you understand Japanese cultures without eating fish?
The Japanese understand that some foreigners don't eat meat: bejitarians. Don't some Japanese Buddhists abstain from meat? That would be another segment of that culture to explore while you were there, as part of a meat-abstaining minority. I don't think vegetarianism would be a never-heard-this-one-before concept to anyone who hosted you there. I've read how challenging it can be to find meatless meals in Japan, but so it goes in many parts of the US as well.

If your vegetarianism is something you're questioning anyway, it might bite the dust with this relationship. As to the child-rearing question, I understand that you can't really raise a child vegetarian whose mother eats meat; it just wouldn't work out until and unless that child decided to give up meat "because cows are nice and I don't want them to be chopped up" or however the child expresses the thought come the day. As it is, your future child will be exposed to two different outlooks on food, and will probably navigate seamlessly between them and make an informed choice at some point. It's like growing up bilingual; those of us who didn't wish we could have.
 

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The problem now is looking to the future, in particular thinking about children. We both want to have children and neither of us want to raise them vegetarian--it was a personal choice for me and I have no right to force that on theoretical children.
PLEASE feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I get the strong sense that you're wavering on your own commitment to vegetarianism. In my opinion, it makes no sense to think of raising vegetarian children as FORCING something on them, because the thing you'd be "forcing" on them is a *GOOD* thing. In other words, if you were contemplating raising children to be serial killers, forcing them to kill people for the hell of it, THAT would be a problem! But raising them to be compassionate? I don't see the problem. :confused:

If I were you, my thinking would be the EXACT OPPOSITE: I'd raise them vegetarian, then let them choose--when they're old enough to make informed decisions on their own--if they want to remain vegetarian. So, for example, when they're in school and their friends encourage them to eat a cheeseburger, I'd sit down with them and have them watch some videos of factory farms and slaughterhouses, then ask if they're REALLY SURE they want to eat that burger, and if the answer is 'yes' they'd be free to do so. (I wouldn't LIKE it, but I'd honor it.)
 

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...We both want to have children and neither of us want to raise them vegetarian--it was a personal choice for me and I have no right to force that on theoretical children. The concern is how to avoid meat as a family. My fiancee and I both want to eat communally as a family, so I am not sure how to foster a culture of unity without forcing my vegetarianism on others. Any advice vegetarian parents?
I'm not a parent, and won't become one, but I don't see why you'd consider feeding theoretical children only vegetarian food as forcing vegetarianism on them. Would feeding them also meat be forcing omnivorism on them? You could prepare and offer only vegetarian means at home. If they go over to a friend's house, they might be offered meat. When they are old enough to understand, you could explain to them why you don't eat meat, and why you don't serve it at home. They could be free to make their own choices outside of the home, at school, at the movies, etc.
 

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I'm not a parent, and won't become one, but I don't see why you'd consider feeding theoretical children only vegetarian food as forcing vegetarianism on them. Would feeding them also meat be forcing omnivorism on them? You could prepare and offer only vegetarian means at home. If they go over to a friend's house, they might be offered meat. When they are old enough to understand, you could explain to them why you don't eat meat, and why you don't serve it at home. They could be free to make their own choices outside of the home, at school, at the movies, etc.
I think the major issue here is that jrgraetz's fiancee eats meat. Her preferences would hold equal weight to his, and she is opposed to raising their hypothetical children meatless. Therefore, meat would be served in their home unless she too became vegetarian.
 

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As a parent, it is your responsibility and duty to instill ethical and moral virtue in your children. This allows them to lead an independent, productive, and satisfying life.
I don't need to tell you, or anyone else, that as an adult you can choose to live how you like, but children must be reared -and reared they will be, if not by you then someone or something else.

A child left to instruct itself in virtue will have none as an adult.
 

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Do you force your (future) children to a certain religion?

Do you force your (future) children to hurt someone else?

Do you force your (future) children to create a cruel world?

Do you force your (future) children to smoke and use drugs?

Do you force your (future) children to drink too much alcohol?

I "forced" my son and daughter in a vegetarian way. They are adult now and still vegetarian.
 

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My husband is an omnivore, but he respects my dietary choices, and we buy and eat vegan food at home. I give our kids leeway in terms of their choices outside of the home and at friends houses, etc. - they can make decisions for themselves, even though they are quite young. When they are old enough to really grasp the significance of their eating decisions, they can choose which diet they will adhere to (although I will continue to make vegan food at home). Talk with your fiancé about whether she'd be comfortable eating vegetarian at home and omni at restaurants.

Speaking of Japan, a close vegetarian friend went there last year. She ate vegan the entire time, and said she had never had such good vegetarian food. She just had a little card with her that explained she didn't eat anything fish or animal related. She can't be certain she didn't have soup with bonito (tuna flakes) as flavouring once or twice, but overall, restaurants were very conscientious about her choices. So you don't have to live on temple food to be vegetarian/vegan in Japan, and you can certainly enjoy and understand the culture!

Some others have recommended Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals, and I would too- it has some really great perspective on being a vegetarian/vegan parent.

Lead by example, and watch Cowspiracy with your fiancé - it's very likely she'll agree, as my husband did, to drastically reduce her intake of animal products.
 

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Some others have recommended Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals, and I would too- it has some really great perspective on being a vegetarian/vegan parent.
After seeing recommendations here about this book, I ordered it; it just arrived today. While I don't really plan on reading it, I do plan on lending it to friends/relatives. There are a few people in my life who've expressed a desire to go veg, so they're definitely on my lend list, but there are also some omni people I'd just like to give some insight to regarding their dietary--and ethical--choices.
 

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Don't some Japanese Buddhists abstain from meat?
It's probable some do, but vegetarianism as an element of Japanese Buddhism died out in the 16th or 17th century, IIRC.
 
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