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Old 02-07-2018, 04:12 PM
 
Location: The New England part of Ohio
24,165 posts, read 32,851,856 times
Reputation: 68586

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Quote:
Originally Posted by English Ivy View Post
I'm not sure whether this should be here or in the parenting forum; mods please move this thread if necessary.

Our household became vegetarian/plant-based when my first child turned two. She's now a preschooler and starting to spend more time out of the house - at preschool, playing with neighbors and other friends, going to birthday parties, etc. Just about everyone we know eats the Standard American Diet: tons of meat and processed junk food.

For those raising their kids vegetarian/plant-based:

1) how do you explain the reasoning to your young children?
2) how do you explain to other kids (and their parents) that you are vegetarian, without offending them, and without your child feeling like an outcast?

Actually, it was harder for MY PARENTS to explain to me, at age three, why
we were having LAMB for dinner! Lambs were my favorite animal since I was a baby! I had a few stuffed toy lambs. There was a lamb decal on my crib. My very first squeak toy was a lamb. I named my rocking horse "Lamby"...don't ask...

What I am trying to say, is many children kind of have to be lied or cajoled into eating meat. Or told stories. We didn't live on a farm. So there was huge disconnect between the origin of the food, and what was served. The idea of eating a cute little lamb was repulsive to me. My parents made up a story about lambs dying a natural death. Later they lied and told me they were "euthanized".

I raised two children as lacto-ovo vegetarians. Now one is a vegan. The other eats fish but no dairy. Neither were tormented or bothered by not eating meat. They were explained in an age appropriate manner, why we did not eat meat. As young children, they never requested meat. They ate what they were served.
And I never had to confabulate or make up stories.

When school time came, I told them that they could eat what they wanted at school, but in our home, we did not buy, serve, or prepare meat.

I also told them later at birthday parties, it was their choice.

Both told me they had no desire to eat meat. To my knowlege they never chose to do so.

When my son was in pre-school, he got in trouble for telling someone who was eating a ham sandwich, that she was eating a "dead pig". I spoke to the school and said that he should not have been reprimanded, and that this was an opportunity to teach about choices. "Ham" after all, is "pig'.

I also cautioned my son not to "preach" to people while they were eating.

His answer - "Why? It's true mom. She didn't know ham was made out of a pig". He had a point.

Other parents? I didn't worry. I simply told them that we were vegetarians. Most people didn't ask more than that. They know why people are vegetarians. If I was asked, I would say "for ethical reasons".

Those who wanted to know more, usually were interested in eating less meat themselves, or becoming vegetarians.

You do not owe anyone an explanation.

My kids found the Thanksgiving Turkey at my father's house disgusting and sad. Their words, and always asked to be seated far away from it.

They were never bullied or ostracized while growing up. They are in their 20s now. I imagine it would be easier today!

At every college we visited, vegetarian and vegan food was readily available.

I wouldn't worry about it.
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Old 02-07-2018, 05:41 PM
 
Location: Mid-Atlantic
33,109 posts, read 36,890,871 times
Reputation: 44126
I let my son decide. He's so omnivorous that's he's almost carnivorous--just like his dad. He likes many vegetarian dishes, but he's never going to be vegetarian.

We each need to find our own path.
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Old 02-07-2018, 06:41 PM
 
Location: On the road
2,798 posts, read 2,698,112 times
Reputation: 3192
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightyqueen801 View Post
The OP did not say that.

I just reread her post, however, and I want to address the second part where she asks about explanations: None needed. You can simply say "we are vegetarians". People might ask if you eat cheese or eggs, and you can answer as appropriate. Most people in the real world are at least acquainted with a vegetarian person through work, school, a family member or friend. It's not that unusual.

If anyone presses further, all you need to do is say, "Our family has chosen not to eat animals." You can even open the conversation with your child that way: "Some people eat animals, but our family doesn't. You may see other people eating meat/food made from animals at Sophia's house. Do not say anything about what they are eating because that would be rude. Just eat the other foods and say "No, thank you" when offered the things that you don't eat.

How does that sound?
Sounds like a load for a 3 year old.
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Old 02-07-2018, 07:06 PM
 
14,464 posts, read 12,024,778 times
Reputation: 39543
I think that at 3, you're not yet dropping your child off at a party or someone's house and leaving, right? Unless you know the other family very well indeed, in which case they will know about your food preferences.

Since you'll be around, bring some food for your child in case there is not enough vegetarian food to make do, and don't make a big deal about it. If anyone ever asks your child why she's not eating meat, tell her to say "I don't like it." That's enough for 3 years old. Everyone knows how picky little kids can be.

You can get into longer explanations when she gets older.
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Old 02-07-2018, 07:41 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
18,813 posts, read 32,795,054 times
Reputation: 38583
I recently saw a video with Dr. John McDougall, I think on YouTube, where he talked about this topic. He said that kids are really resilient health-wise, so that even if they were eating things away from home that you would rather they didn't eat, or even if they went through a period where they were eating meat after they left home, that the effects could be pretty easily fixed later on.

I just wanted to add that, just so you won't worry if people sneak her stuff they know you'd rather she didn't eat, etc., which is bound to happen. Most people just don't understand that you can get all your protein needs, etc., from plants.
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Old 02-08-2018, 08:40 AM
 
Location: Elsewhere
89,220 posts, read 86,056,304 times
Reputation: 116323
Quote:
Originally Posted by LarsMac View Post
Sounds like a load for a 3 year old.
I guess it depends upon the three-year-old. At that age, IIRC with my own daughter, they are asking a lot of questions, soaking up info like a sponge and trying to make sense of their world.
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Old 02-08-2018, 10:34 AM
 
337 posts, read 315,814 times
Reputation: 772
Thanks to all of you who are actually trying to be helpful, and sharing your experiences.

[quote=Mightyqueen801;

You can even open the conversation with your child that way: "Some people eat animals, but our family doesn't. You may see other people eating meat/food made from animals at Sophia's house. Do not say anything about what they are eating because that would be rude. Just eat the other foods and say "No, thank you" when offered the things that you don't eat.

How does that sound?[/QUOTE]

This sounds like a good start. Thanks, Mightyqueen.
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Old 02-08-2018, 10:41 AM
 
337 posts, read 315,814 times
Reputation: 772
Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
I think that at 3, you're not yet dropping your child off at a party or someone's house and leaving, right? Unless you know the other family very well indeed, in which case they will know about your food preferences.

Since you'll be around, bring some food for your child in case there is not enough vegetarian food to make do, and don't make a big deal about it. If anyone ever asks your child why she's not eating meat, tell her to say "I don't like it." That's enough for 3 years old. Everyone knows how picky little kids can be.

You can get into longer explanations when she gets older.
No, I didn't drop her off and leave her at the party, but a couple other parents did with their kids. In this example, I didn't know the host - nor have any idea what was to be served ahead of time. Bringing food for her would be a good idea. Something crowd-pleasing that she can share with others. I don't feel it's appropriate to request the host to make accommodations for her.

Maybe other kids could be taught to say, "I don't like it", and yes kids can be picky, but mine is curious and wants to try new things, especially if she sees everyone else is having it. I felt put on the spot at the party - because if I didn't allow her to try the hot dog, she wouldn't have understood why it's ok for everyone else to have it except her (since we haven't had the discussion about it). She would have interpreted it as not being loved/being deprived. But giving her the hot dog also seems hypocritical.

Last edited by English Ivy; 02-08-2018 at 11:05 AM..
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Old 02-08-2018, 10:56 AM
 
337 posts, read 315,814 times
Reputation: 772
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoMoreSnowForMe View Post
I recently saw a video with Dr. John McDougall, I think on YouTube, where he talked about this topic. He said that kids are really resilient health-wise, so that even if they were eating things away from home that you would rather they didn't eat, or even if they went through a period where they were eating meat after they left home, that the effects could be pretty easily fixed later on.

I just wanted to add that, just so you won't worry if people sneak her stuff they know you'd rather she didn't eat, etc., which is bound to happen. Most people just don't understand that you can get all your protein needs, etc., from plants.
Yes, I believe I read the same thing at some point.

My goal as a parent is to raise kids who know it's okay to eat real, whole foods - and that eating meat isn't a requirement for proper nutrition. My three year old actually enjoys eating kale, quinoa, baked beans, peas, cashews, olives, cabbage, etc. She eats what we eat. She doesn't know yet that all her peers are "so picky" and "will only eat chicken nuggets and mac n' cheese". Or hot dogs. I know as she gets older she'll likely want to try eating various animal foods and other junk we don't eat at home. It is bound to happen, and that's ok. As Gerania said, we each need to find our own path.

Thanks again everyone for helping me decide on what approach to take, and how to keep the discussions age-appropriate.
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Old 02-08-2018, 11:07 AM
 
337 posts, read 315,814 times
Reputation: 772
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheena12 View Post
Actually, it was harder for MY PARENTS to explain to me, at age three, why
we were having LAMB for dinner! Lambs were my favorite animal since I was a baby! I had a few stuffed toy lambs. There was a lamb decal on my crib. My very first squeak toy was a lamb. I named my rocking horse "Lamby"...don't ask...

What I am trying to say, is many children kind of have to be lied or cajoled into eating meat. Or told stories. We didn't live on a farm. So there was huge disconnect between the origin of the food, and what was served. The idea of eating a cute little lamb was repulsive to me. My parents made up a story about lambs dying a natural death. Later they lied and told me they were "euthanized".

I raised two children as lacto-ovo vegetarians. Now one is a vegan. The other eats fish but no dairy. Neither were tormented or bothered by not eating meat. They were explained in an age appropriate manner, why we did not eat meat. As young children, they never requested meat. They ate what they were served.
And I never had to confabulate or make up stories.

When school time came, I told them that they could eat what they wanted at school, but in our home, we did not buy, serve, or prepare meat.

I also told them later at birthday parties, it was their choice.

Both told me they had no desire to eat meat. To my knowlege they never chose to do so.

When my son was in pre-school, he got in trouble for telling someone who was eating a ham sandwich, that she was eating a "dead pig". I spoke to the school and said that he should not have been reprimanded, and that this was an opportunity to teach about choices. "Ham" after all, is "pig'.

I also cautioned my son not to "preach" to people while they were eating.

His answer - "Why? It's true mom. She didn't know ham was made out of a pig". He had a point.

Other parents? I didn't worry. I simply told them that we were vegetarians. Most people didn't ask more than that. They know why people are vegetarians. If I was asked, I would say "for ethical reasons".

Those who wanted to know more, usually were interested in eating less meat themselves, or becoming vegetarians.

You do not owe anyone an explanation.

My kids found the Thanksgiving Turkey at my father's house disgusting and sad. Their words, and always asked to be seated far away from it.

They were never bullied or ostracized while growing up. They are in their 20s now. I imagine it would be easier today!

At every college we visited, vegetarian and vegan food was readily available.

I wouldn't worry about it.
That's a nice story, made me chuckle Thanks for sharing.
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