Monday, March 3, 2014

Meat for a Vegetarian

My and I are both vegetarians and have been for more than a decade now (we were vegetarians before meeting each other). 

But our son loves meat. He says, "Lions eat meat, and I eat meat." 

I very much subscribe to this poem about how our children come through us but not from us. He is his own person. Although we regulate things about his life according to our values and not necessary his preferences (i.e., virtually no screen time until he's older), there are other times when we honor what he wants and who he is, even if it's not what we wish he wanted. 

Like meat. Oh how I wish he didn't love meat! But he does, and it's his choice. We just limit his choices to meat that is ethically produced (since our main beef--har, har--with meat is how it's produced). 

Enter: pre-grilled, packaged meat from Applegate Farm. We can pack it in his lunch without actually cooking it or even dealing with it very much. It's a vegetarian parents' dream. 

"You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts."

"You may strive to be like them, 
but not seek to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday."

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AZ said...

This is so interesting, Sara! How and when did you decide to initially give Henry meat? Did you consider not serving him meat at home for a certain number of years or something? Did he express a natural interest before you gave it to him?! I'd love to hear more.

Jillian Alcaro said...

I'm interested in this too. My husband and I have both been vegetarian for over a decade. My plan is that our future children will not be given meat until the are pre-teens and old enough to make an informed decision. What made you decide to allow him to eat meat? I know he wanted it, but I think of it almost like an allergy where even if my future child wanted it I wouldn't allow it. This is NOT a judgement at all. It has just made me think about what I would do if my children decided at an early age that they wanted to eat meat. It must have been a very difficult decision for you.

andee said...

This is really interesting Sara. I applauded your open mind towards your child's decision.

Kelsey said...

That sounds like a good compromise. And I second wanting to hear a bit more about your approach as Chris and I are in the same boat being vegetarian and wanting to raise Dashiell that way but also wanting to give him the freedom to choose. Thank you for sharing!

Margaret said...

I'm a vegetarian, and I agree that it's something a child should choose for themselves - but, at an age when they understand what meat is, how animals are treated, and why it is that we their parents abstain from it. (So, maybe 10 or 12 years old?) I guess I'm not understanding how Henry is at a point where he is making an informed decision. Does he really get what meat is, that it comes from animals?

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Margaret! We don't let Henry choose meat that is incompatible with our values (for the most part). Plus, we have chickens and we call meat "dead chicken" or "dead cow." He is becoming aware of what it is.

Kelly said...

Hi Sara,

Thanks so much for sharing this! I've been a vegetarian since I was 6 (and dairy-free for the past 5 years) and my Henry has been vegetarian for about 6 years. We've always planned to feed ours vegetarian at home and give them the option to try things out once they were school age - mostly so they wouldn't ever feel left out, but also because it seemed like an age when they could understand better the choice they were making.
This post makes me think harder about how young kids can make decisions for themselves.
I'm also curious how you handle the meat issue when you're out - when the meat he might want is not compatible with your values - have you run into any issues there?

I have an older cousin that was raised vegetarian and when he was three or four went to live with his grandmother in north Texas, who wanted him to eat meat. He loved cowboys, so she tried to cajole him by telling him, "Cowboys eat meat." He looked directly at her and said, "Well, this cowboy doesn't." This is a favorite piece of family lore because my whole family is vegetarian, but Henry's statement about lions eating meat reminds me so much of that story! I'm proud of you for honoring his choices, even if they're not the same choices we would make as fully-informed adults. Neat. :)

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Kelly!

We ran into this problem yesterday! We were at a hotel breakfast buffet, and he wanted a sausage patty. I just said, "That's not healthy meat that was raised in a good way. Do you want something else instead?"

Of course nothing there was "healthy" or "raised in a good way," so I felt kind of hypocritical. Luckily, it was easy to interest him in something else quickly. The last thing I want to do is make him feel really deprived so that he begins to excessively crave something.

It's definitely tricky!

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