Vegetarian child now wants to eat meat, WWYD?

(18 Posts)
indiastar Tue 04-Oct-11 17:29:20

Hi,
Not sure if I am posting in the right place, and am very new to all this! I would just like some advice please.

DS (8) has been a vegetarian all his life as am I and DD. DP eats meat occasionally. DS now wants to eat meat like his friends at school. I always thought I would let the dc's eat meat if they chose to when they were older, but now ds has asked and I don't really like the thought of it!

How would you explain to an 8 year old about the ethics of not eating meat etc. If we could afford free range, organic meat etc maybe it wouldn't be so bad, but we can't. Not sure what to do....

Thanks for reading!

grumpypants Tue 04-Oct-11 17:33:58

I am not in this position yet, but have a similar aged ds. I have explained that he can't have Haribo, even tho he wanted to make an exception! We use alternatives. I think you would be perfectly reasonable to say that you disagree with eating meat for all those reasons, but that he can eat it when away from home (school dinners, restaurants, relatives) TBH I personally don't know if i would be able to say that - i feel for you!

indiastar Tue 04-Oct-11 19:03:52

Thanks for the reply. I also check all sweets, much to ds disgust!!
He wants the meat option for school dinners, but I'm guessing the meat will not be that good?confused
Not sure I can even cook meat safely!!hmm

SockMunkee Tue 04-Oct-11 19:05:30

I would let him, as he gets older he will make more choices about his life and you will not agree with all of them. He is growing up and you should support him.

I agree that you should consider compromising by not cooking meat at home but letting him have meat out of the home. I would have thought that banning it totally will just make it more tempting and make him likely to bin vegetarianism the second he's able to, while a compromise may mean he stops eating meat again when he's older?

Pancakeflipper Tue 04-Oct-11 19:11:46

I think you have to let him eat meat because he's going to do it anyway - at parties, at tea at friends houses... And when he gets more freedom as he gets older he'll be found sneaking off to the local kebab house if you try to keep it away from him

So perhaps as Grumpypants says - he eats meat if he wants when he is not at home. Or you do have to look at decently produced meats.

My friend is vegetarian and she brought her kids up to be vegetarian too. But now they are over 7 yrs old she's taken to cooking a roast chicken for her kids. She says she knows if she says no they will have it some way and some day so she'd rather source it and cook it. But she doesn't know her mother used to let the kids help themselves to a supply of sausage rolls in her fridge on their visits....

bigTillyMint Tue 04-Oct-11 19:12:10

I would let him - he may well decide he doesn't like the meat at school that much anyway.

Even if you say no now, he can choose whatever he likes (unless there are food police on the servery!) - definitely at secondary!

grumpypants Tue 04-Oct-11 20:00:11

Really tough one tho. I feel really strongly about being veggie, and would have to sit down and make sure my reasons were restated. For me, cooking meat is a no, I feel that I would be making out that actually my beliefs were a bit shaky.

Pancakeflipper Tue 04-Oct-11 20:04:24

But they are your reasons, they aren't his.... and you have to respect that. More so when he gets older. He might just eat meat for a few years and then decide he wants to be vegetarian.

ReadRideABikeSwim Tue 04-Oct-11 20:07:26

i am at this stage with ds and he is 3!! I fear i will succumb - i do think 8 is plenty old enough to choose but i would take him to a field of cows or somesuch to be sure he knows what he's doing

DP sepnt 2 weeks in a slaughterhouse and says all meat eaters should go there if they want to eat meat

TheProvincialLady Tue 04-Oct-11 20:09:26

We are a vegetarian family. I have always told my children (but then they are only 5 and 2...) that we will not have meat in the house but if they want to eat it elsewhere that is their choice. I think at 8 years old to insist that he remains vegetarian is a) impossible to police b) disrespectful to his personal feelings reharding meat and food generally. Forcing children to eat, or not eat, any kind of food is a potential minefield that I would not want to enter. Not that any kind of minefield is much fun, but I couldn't think of a better metaphorgrin

I would let him- but introduce it v gently or he may get awful stomach ache.

indiastar Tue 04-Oct-11 21:01:13

Thank you for all your replies and you all make loads of sense to me! I have never actually banned him from eating meat or said 'no' outright - just gently discouraged it and it has never been an issue until now. I know he has eaten the odd sausage roll etc at parties and I have not said a thing about it.
I just wanted him to be a little bit older to make a more informed choice. I think he is still too young to go into the realities of where meat comes from. I have tried to explain little bits to him, but I don't think he really 'gets it'. He knows which animal produces which meat etc. (He has slight learning disabilities, so is still very young for his age).

I think I will go down the route of letting him chose to eat meat outside of the house etc. And will try gently talk to him about why we chose to be vegetarian when he is able to understand more. Will be very strange for me to see him eat it though....and have the piss taken out of me by my big meat eating family and dp's strict vegetarian family.

Trills Tue 04-Oct-11 21:31:00

If you were friends with an omnivorous family whose 8 year old had said that they wanted to be a vegetarian, what would you say?

Would you say that an 8 year old was old enough to know that animals have to be killed in order to make a sausage? Or would you say that at 8 they are too young and their parents should make the decision for them?

I think you have to try to be consistent in your approach, even if you disagree with the choice that is made.

You would not be at all unreasonable to refuse to buy or cook meat in your own house, of course.

thenightsky Tue 04-Oct-11 21:38:56

I brought DD and DS up as vegetarians. DD started eating meat at mates houses at about 8 years old, like your DS OP. Her mates parents asked me if it was okay for her to have it and I said it was okay, mainly because I didn't want to put them out, cooking separate meals and such.

DS never wanted to eat meat. He would be happy to go hungry at age 8 rather than eat it.

DD is now 24 and is a fab cook and can gut fish, pluck pheasants and is full into the whole meat thing.

DS is 20 and is even stricter vegetarian then me.

Not sure what help, if any, that is to you OP. I suppose I'm saying I just went with the flow.

indiastar Tue 04-Oct-11 23:29:26

Thank you all again. You have all been very helpful.

Twonker Fri 07-Sep-12 22:32:00

I shouldn't worry about the quality of the meat in the school dinners. That's not to say I am happy about it, just that you have to choose your battles. If you were able to offer him the occasional bit of 'ethical'meat at home, that would be one thing, but if that is not an option, you are not ina position to ensure the meat is good quality.

Twonker Fri 07-Sep-12 22:33:13

Whoops just notice the age of this thread derrrrrrblush

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