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To take my 4yo’s lead on him wanting to be vegetarian?

(36 Posts)
Tanline20 Sat 30-May-20 07:26:24

I haven’t eaten meat since the start of 2017, and then gave up fish too start of 2019, I’d say I’m now about 85% vegan. DP eats and always has eaten meat, I would prefer it if he didn’t (mainly for ease!) but have no personal problem with him or anyone else eating meat if that’s what they choose, and unless questioned on it am not typically a preacher!
We have brought our 4.5yo son up eating meat, I have bought and cooked meat for him as normal his whole life, but by default, he’s also eaten a lot of vegetarian and vegan meals/snacks too. Around a year ago he started asking me why I didn’t eat meat, I told him I didn’t like the idea of eating animals (he’s an inquisitive child and I always try to be honest when answering his questions), but that it’s up to him if he eats meat or not and when he’s older he can make the decision for himself if he so chooses. He’s very switched on and has always had a fascination with anything vegetarian or vegan (probably more just the word than anything else) but has previously said things like “I like veggie stuff, but I like meat too like Daddy, I like both” which I’ve told him is completely fine and he’s never seemed too influenced to stop eating meat which is what I’ve always tried hard not to do either way (other than give him my own opinion on why I don’t eat it when he’s asked). I’ve never wanted to force my views on him as he’s his own person and I believe he can make up his own mind.

Now, he has suddenly become adamant he doesn’t want to eat meat. When I ask why he says “I thought about all the animals and I don’t want to eat them” which has obviously come from my answer, but it’s very out of the blue. I expected he may say this at some point but didn’t think he would be this young. DP keeps cooking him and giving him meat as if he is refusing to take him seriously as he’s so young, but DS immediately asks “is this meat?” (as we sometimes eat quorn/other mock meats etc) and if it is he has started becoming quite upset when he is told it is and refusing to eat it. (DP has on occasion told him something is veggie when it’s not just to get him to eat it which I don’t agree with and have told him not to lie to him about what he’s eating). I’ve reassured him there’s nothing to feel guilty about if he wants to eat it and it’s up to him and nobody else but he’s adamant he doesn’t eat meat anymore. He’s also become extremely clingy and favourable to me during lockdown so realise he may just be copying me because of this.

I’d like to follow his lead on this, even if it just a phase. I never enjoyed meat as a child but in a family of meat eaters being vegetarian wasn’t something I even knew of, and it was “eat what you’re given”. If DS really is feeling this way I wouldn’t like to force him to eat something he doesn’t want to. I think DP and his family, and my family too will all think this is my doing and think negatively about it, but if DS was to ask me to eat meat then I’d give it to him. I’ve obviously inadvertently influenced him but I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing! I’m quite conscious of protein rich veggie foods and thankfully DS loves his vegetables too so I’m going to try hard to make sure he is getting all he needs.

Any tips on veggie kids or similar situations with a mix of meat eating/veggie households would be great!

OP’s posts: |
JustaScratch Sat 30-May-20 07:33:48

I completely agree OP. I gave up meat when I was 4yo - my parents weren't vegetarians at the time, but it sounds like I went through a similar though process to your son. I am still a vegetarian.

Now my 6yo says she's a vegetarian. She is not strict about this, sometimes she will decide she wants meat, and I'm just extremely laid back about it. She can make up her own mind. We have some rules agreed that if there is no choice at a friend's house she must eat what she is given and must eat something of everything on her plate to get a balanced diet, but I've never been a fan of turning food into a battle. Teach him healthy eating ways and he will work the rest out for himself.

zscaler Sat 30-May-20 07:34:55

YANBU. As you say, even if it is a phase, you’re still listening to him and letting him decide what he wants, which I think is a good thing. He clearly isn’t under any pressure to make this decision, and no harm will come from it. I think you’re absolutely right to listen to him.

Themostwonderfultimeoftheyear Sat 30-May-20 07:37:22

DS who is 4 did this recently when he connected the fact that meat is in fact animals. I followed his lead and made it clear that I respected any choice he made. It was a phase for him but he knows that I will always support his choice.

MagicKingdomDizzy Sat 30-May-20 07:38:01

My son did this. It ended up being a phase that lasted 3 months. Then he went back to meat because he missed sausages!

Just support him in his decision and make sure he has a balanced diet etc.

footprintsintheslow Sat 30-May-20 07:38:34

Good for your boy. I'd go with it and don't lie to him.

HollyBollyBooBoo Sat 30-May-20 07:41:57

Definitely go with it because presumably the alternative is to keep serving him meat which will lead to arguments over food - never worth it.

Norma27 Sat 30-May-20 07:42:03

I think you are right to listen to him too.
I decided about that age I wouldn't eat meat. Am now mid-forties and still veggie.
I haven't brought my children up veggie. The eldest eats a limited amount of meat, the youngest actually doesn't but only because she is so fussy and eats hardly anything.
They both eat eg sweets with gelatine etc.
They can make their own choices as they decide to.

thatonehasalittlecar Sat 30-May-20 07:42:31

I think it’s wonderful you are explaining and listening to your child. At that age, they do understand things and take on board what you tell them, so it’s little wonder he is expressing his own desires. Presumably as a long-standing vegetarian, you have a good grasp of healthy eating and dietary requirements, so you can provide balanced meals without meals, and if not, there are lots of resources. I wouldn’t worry what anyone in the wider family thinks, but your husband’s thoughts are obviously important - I hope you can talk it through with him and come to an agreement.

Solina Sat 30-May-20 07:45:44

I think not allowing him to make that choice could make meal times very negative and upsetting to him so I would go with it. It sounds like you would be able to cook him a varied meals anyways.

YessicaHaircut Sat 30-May-20 07:50:33

I think what you’re doing is right OP; listen to your child and be honest with him about what he’s eating. I’ve found this thought-provoking as our baby is due next month and DH is veggie and I’m not (though don’t eat much meat or fish now as I love vegetarian food), so I’m sure we will go through this situation in a few years ourselves!

Nottherealslimshady Sat 30-May-20 07:51:46

Your husband is being quite cruel I think.
Course your child should get to decide this at any age. He's shown understanding not just thrown the word about.

Unfortunately mumsnet is full of people who think not even teenagers are allowed to make this decision and children must eat what their parents want them to eat.

You have experience with the diet and can make it healthy so theres really no concern.

Useruseruserusee Sat 30-May-20 07:53:32

Yes I would. DH and I are both veggie but our DS aged 6 goes through phases. Sometimes he wants to be, sometimes he doesn’t. I go with it either way as I’m happy as long as he is eating healthily, veggie or not. I don’t want food to be a worry for any reason.

Our DS aged 2 is veggie though, he just doesn’t like the taste of any meat.

Sipperskipper Sat 30-May-20 07:58:20

Your little boy sounds brilliant OP. Yes, I would definitely support him in his choice, even if it is just a phase.

I was 6 when I decided I wanted to stop eating meat, for the same reasons. My (non vegetarian) parents were really supportive and I stayed a vegetarian until my early 20s (when I discovered the joys of a burger van burger after a boozy night out!)

vikingwife Sat 30-May-20 08:01:01

Anything that would encourage a child to eat more vegetables is not entirely a bad idea

Mistymonday Sat 30-May-20 08:03:21

My mum raised me as vegetarian - she always said I could eat meat if I wanted to but I knew what it was and never liked the idea. I’m 37 and have never eaten meat or fish, it has never harmed me. I always have good levels of nutrients. Been vegan almost 10 years now at this point too. Let your son decide, I would say. Definitely don’t force him to eat it if he doesn’t want to.

Queenoftheashes Sat 30-May-20 08:10:49

I definitely think he should lead on whether he eats meat. No reason not to give him the choice.
I’m not vegetarian now but was when younger and once my mum and sister conspired to make me eat pork sausages. I found out; I was really really upset and still remember how sick I felt. His dad should not be doing this.

R2519 Sat 30-May-20 08:18:39

I've seen this before and if he wants to not eat meat then thats fine. Just don't let his decision stop your dh from eating it if he choises too. My friends son would throw tantrums if his parents or anyone else ate it. It meant if they came for a bbq we would get tantrums over other people eating a burger.

Veterinari Sat 30-May-20 08:19:29

Why is your husband deceiving him?

What's his problem with vegetarianism that he feels deceiving his son is ok?

Your husband is behaving like a dick.

It's perfectly easy to raise a child healthily in a vegetarian diet. Why do your husbands wishes trump your and your sons?

Mawbags Sat 30-May-20 08:29:45

My son has been a veggie on and off since he was the same age. I go with it. I did have to tell him that lockdown meant we were al eating whatever I could Buy/ freeze and that he can return to it after

RiverRover Sat 30-May-20 08:30:12

As long as he still gets enough iron (i.e: from leafy greens) and other components of his diet, then it's absolutely fine

MsMeNz Sat 30-May-20 08:58:19

My middle child did this around 5 lasted a few weeks and I let him decide I gave him facts about meat products and let him decide. Now at 9 we watched a meat production doccumetory a few weeks ago and he immediately went vegitarian again. I fully support him. That night I went out and stocked up for him I would never force him to eat meat but if he wanted to I'd be ok with that too. If there is a good meat substitute for what I cook I'll cook it for all of us if not I I will make a meat dish with an alternatives on the side for him like Quorn products or other meat alternatives.

Boshmama Sat 30-May-20 09:27:40

Listen to him! A lot of children don't want to eat meat when they connect it to animals, I was the same and went veggie at 4 and have stayed that way (now vegan).

GnusSitOnCanoes Sat 30-May-20 09:45:49

As I child, I hated eating meat. I’m always grateful my mum accepted it, listened to me and didn’t force the point. It’s awful your husband thinks it’s ok to lie to your son.

whiteroseredrose Sat 30-May-20 09:48:15

Why can't he share what you eat rather than what his dad eats?

I've been vegetarian all my life but DC were raised eating meat with DH. I made a separate similar meal for myself.

First DS then DD decided to become vegetarian too so now our family meals are vegetarian. I still cook meat for DH occasionally but he is now the odd one out.

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