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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A couple of weeks ago our 5 year old daughter, who we've raised vegetarian and has always told us that she is "glad" she's vegetarian and likes the fact she can eat without hurting animals went to a drop-off birthday party. When she got home she told us that she'd eaten sausages and chicken sandwiches and that they were very tasty.

We were surprised and mortified by this on a number of levels. She'd always told us she was proud to be vegetarian so although we'd always said she could make her own mind up when she was old enough, we felt really disappointed. The host of the party had even asked us if she had any special dietary requirements and had done some veggie food specially so it was pretty embarrassing as well.

On discussing the matter with her it became clear there was a huge dissociation in her head - on the one hand she said that killing animals was a bad thing that she wouldn't want to see happen, but she couldn't seem to make the connection that that was what had to happen before you could eat them. I suppose that is asking quite a lot of a five-year old. But obviously until she can make this connection, she can't really make her own mind up. And until she can make a genuine, informed choice, I'd rather she didn't eat meat.

But we can't hover over her at parties, policing what she eats. And we can't expect other parents to do that for her. The picture is even more complicated by the fact that we give her - and she enjoys - lots of "fake meat" products which must make it hard for her to discern what's real meat and what's not. And then there's things like gelatin which are very difficult to understand and judge and I must admit that while we don't buy jelly sweets, we do let her eat ones she's been given as gifts.

What do other people do? Are we being too harsh or, perhaps, not harsh enough?
 

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I dont mean to seem rude but are you sure she didnt think the real meat she ate (sausages and chicken) was fake. I mean when you serve her the fake meat at home do you call it fake or do you say 'here are your sausages'...
 

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Originally Posted by .Goth-Alice. View Post

I dont mean to seem rude but are you sure she didnt think the real meat she ate (sausages and chicken) was fake. I mean when you serve her the fake meat at home do you call it fake or do you say 'here are your sausages'...
Not at all rude, but no that's what we checked first of all. She knew it was "real" meat, and although we do tend to say "eat your sausages" and suchlike she certainly does understand that there are vegetarian and non-vegetarian kinds of sausage. We drilled that into her pretty early on.
 

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Some small children don't understand that meat is the animal. I remember being confused about why people needed to kill animals for their meat, but not for their milk.

Maybe take her to the grocery store and show her a chicken's leg and talk about how other animals are chopped up, etc. Even touch her arm and say, "If you were a cow, this would be a shoulder roast...and we could make sausages out of this..."

It's easy to make meat seem gross, cruel and disgusting. Because it is.
 

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Does she understand why you all choose to be vegetarian? Our daughter (7) always likes to talk about her being vegetarian with us constantly, to the point she feels the need to always remind her teacher and friends at school. She has grown up around a lot of animals also, so the oportunity to recognize both the meat people eat and these animal friends of hers are the same thing. Is your daughter ever around animals and not just cats and dogs? Also, I know when our daughter started school I was worried she may want to just eat what her friends eat, because feeling like you fit in and having people like you is made to be a big deal. So, I picked up a school lunch menu and for the first few weeks I her packed lunches similar but better until it wasnt made a big deal. At parties she eats before and has maybe a few snacks during and cake or whatever they are having sweet. She knows she is different, but I try to make it as easy as possible so she doesnt feel deprived.
It may just take time for your daughter to mature a bit before she can understand what she wants.
 

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Originally Posted by delicioso View Post

Maybe take her to the grocery store and show her a chicken's leg and talk about how other animals are chopped up, etc. Even touch her arm and say, "If you were a cow, this would be a shoulder roast...and we could make sausages out of this..."
I think this is a good idea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the thoughts and ideas.
 

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It might be good to take her to a farm sanctuary as well... After she's had a chance to pet a pig and a chicken she will probably be excited and talk to you about them, and at some point you can say "isn't it sad that they get hurt when you eat meat?"
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by delicioso View Post

Some small children don't understand that meat is the animal. I remember being confused about why people needed to kill animals for their meat, but not for their milk.

Maybe take her to the grocery store and show her a chicken's leg and talk about how other animals are chopped up, etc. Even touch her arm and say, "If you were a cow, this would be a shoulder roast...and we could make sausages out of this..."

It's easy to make meat seem gross, cruel and disgusting. Because it is.
Hmmm... Not sure if I'd do that. It would be nice to teach a child why we don't eat meat without... hurting them? For example. I wouldn't have Santa Clause bring my child a DVD of Earthlings for Christmas. They're young and should be able to enjoy the world as much as they can before they're forced to realize what a dump we live in
Keep them on a vegetarian diet at home, and I don't think it would be too much to ask to have the host of a party serve your child a vegetarian meal. Even if it just means throwing a Tofurky sausage in the microwave for 20 seconds.
 

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I think it would depend on the temperment/age and sensitivities of a particular child. I wanted to know the truth about the world, even when I was a small child. Though not necessarily the gory details. It could even be done playfully and warmly.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by delicioso View Post

I think it would depend on the temperment/age and sensitivities of a particular child. I wanted to know the truth about the world, even when I was a small child. Though not necessarily the gory details. It could even be done playfully and warmly.
I don't have children so I'm not sure what the maturity level of an average 5 year old is
 

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I don't think it's unreasonable to ask adults - who have stepped up to the role of supervising children at a "drop-off" birthday party - to restrict your child's food choices. They asked about diet because they were willing to do exactly that - keep the allergic kids away from foods they can't eat, keep the kosher kids away from foods they can't eat, and so on.

If I were you, I'd ask other adults to step in. If they choose not to, fine. But I don't see the harm in asking.
 

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At parties we always told the host that our children were vegetarian. It was never a problem. No meat was given to our children.
 

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I think this whole thing is a bit more of a problem for you than for her. The meat wont kill her. she will go back to eating veggie around you all.
Shes only five so she will do whatever everyone else is doing.
Just let it go, dont make a deal out of it and keep giving her the values that you want her to have. Chances are she will stay veggie through life.
 

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Remind the parents, always offer a substitute (I keep veggie hotdogs and marshmallows in the fridge just for kid parties), and avoid putting the onus on the child as she is still quite young. Whenever my kids refrain from a meat product at school or a party, they are doubly rewarded when they get home. The first time my kids turned down s'mores at a bonfire, we had frozen pineapple bars and painted I Love Animal T-Shirts when I got the news.

Good luck, this long and challenging road ahead while they are young.
 

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I'm lucky (so far) I've never had this problem, my daughter is nearly 6 but I know so it will happen. I'm not looking forward to going through this with my 2&1/2 year old >_<
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fatman View Post

I think this whole thing is a bit more of a problem for you than for her. The meat wont kill her. she will go back to eating veggie around you all.
Shes only five so she will do whatever everyone else is doing.
Just let it go, dont make a deal out of it and keep giving her the values that you want her to have. Chances are she will stay veggie through life.
This is exactly what I was thinking. My kid eats veg at home and when we go out for the most part. But, she eats meat of her own accord on occasion when out at parties, etc... I feel like if I keep holding to my own values and if she really understands it, she will eventually decide not to eat meat on her own. She often talks about it, I just think that at a young age, it is hard for them to truly grasp that meat and animals are the same thing. Even if you are graphic about it, they don't always get it.
 
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