Talk

Advanced search

Bringing up my child vegetarian, more of a WWYD??

(129 Posts)
girlafraid Wed 28-Oct-09 08:21:53

Would love opinions on this, another thread had me up in the night thinking about this!

DH and i have both been vegetarians for many years and (naturally to my mind) have not given DS meat to eat, he eats what we eat

We eat a balanced diet, plenty of protein and i like to think I am a fair cook wink

I have always been of the mind that DS can choose to eat meat himself as soon as he able to express a preference but I'm not going to cook it for him now IFYSWIM.

I've been wondering though, when does this start? Do I agree to him having meat at nursery? Or let him fill his boots at parties if he wants? Looking for some opinions, especially if you have been through this yourself

DH and I are not opposed to eating meat per se but don't feel it is healthy or environmentally responsible to eat as much meat as most westerners do. TBH I think the optimum diet would be to eat meat perhaps once a week or every other week, but I never get round to doing it!

I don't really like the idea of sending him to a party with a lunch box and don't want him to feel left out, though DH doesn't think that is so important

Thanks for reading if you got through this grin

theressomethingaboutmarie Wed 28-Oct-09 08:28:10

Morning OP. My little girl is being brought up as a pescetarian (eats fish). If she goes to a party and wants a meaty whatever, our thoughts are that she's welcome to it. She's just over two now and hasn't expressed any interest in meat thus far.

We'll continue to give her fish and the veggie meals my husband and I have at home but when she's at parties/friends houses etc, she can eat what she wants.

With regard to the nursery thing, I would ask the nursery to provide him with veggie food (assuming that's perfectly possible) and if he expresses interest in the non-veggie food, then let him 'fill his boots'!

sarah293 Wed 28-Oct-09 08:30:35

Message withdrawn

RamblingRosa Wed 28-Oct-09 08:32:05

YANBU

I have the same concerns. I'm veggie and DD (2yo) is veggie. I've always said she can make an informed decision for herself if she wants to eat meat but I don't know if I'm 100% clear when I think that will be. She's veggie at nursery and none of her friends are big meat eaters and there are always veggie options. I know a time will come though when she's at school or eating at more friend's houses when she'll be offered meat or she'll ask for meat.

I just don't know when that will be!

Sorry I can't be more help. Just saying I'm in the same boat really

If it's any help, a friend of mine who's a strict vegan and was bringing her DD up vegetarian told me that her DD has recently decided she likes fish (she's 2 and a half) and that's fine with both of them. Not sure how it came about that she decided she liked fish though.

CMOTdibbler Wed 28-Oct-09 08:33:14

I'd let him choose at parties, and at nursery you could just see how he goes with eating the same as everyone else.

I have a medically restricted diet, and as an adult I don't like being singled out as the odd eater, so think that letting him eat the same as everyone else is important socially

thirtysomething Wed 28-Oct-09 08:35:04

My DS is veggie - we are too. He was only given veggie stuff until he started eyeing up meat/fish at nursery and one day a new member of staff gave him a meat cottage pie by accident, which he devoured! So after that we said he could eat meat out of the house, which he did until he was coming up to 10 when he suddenly announced he was going veggie full stop for ethical reasons (he was becoming more and more aware of animal welfare issues). He hasn't looked back since almost 2 years later....DD is a carnivore now-was brought up a veggie like DS but loves meat and I guess will make her own mind up as she grows up!

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Wed 28-Oct-09 08:35:10

I am quite clear that DS is not to be given meat until he can express a real wish himself - and that to me is not 2-3 years old as he doesn't know what meat is. I was brought up veggie and never had a problem at parties even in the early 80s, all parents provide veggie options and it's up to you whether you want to ask the parent to watch what he eats (although at this young age you will be with him at parties anyway)

sarah293 Wed 28-Oct-09 08:38:24

Message withdrawn

stressedHEmum Wed 28-Oct-09 08:39:00

I've been a veggie for 30 years, now, but neither my Dh nor any of my kids are. When they were little, I decided that they had to make the choice themselves and not have my beliefs foisted on them. So they have always eaten meat, and I have always cooked it for them.

In saying that, they eat very little meat, only once or maybe twice a week and it is usually only as a flavouring in their food; a bit of chorizo in patatas bravas, some pepperoni in the pasta or a veg stew with about 4-6oz beef in it for 6 people. I don't think that it is environmentally sustainable to produce or eat the amount of animal protein that seems to be the norm here.

if I were you, I would let my son eat meat at nursery and parties if he chooses to do so. That way he will be able to develop a balanced view based on experience. Be prepared, though, my kids love meat and, given the choice, would eat it in one form or another every day. So, you might end up having to cook it for him when he is a little older.

sarah293 Wed 28-Oct-09 08:43:06

Message withdrawn

bigstripeytiger Wed 28-Oct-09 08:48:09

I agree with Kat, if you are vegetarian for health, envionmental or ethical reasons then I would keep DS vegetarian until he is able to make an informed choice for himself.

There are plenty of vegetarian children about, so sending him to a party with a lunch box would not be needed. My DDs are vegetarian, and have never been treated differently because of this. Where we live about a quarter of the children are either vegetarian or for religious reasons eat a vegetarian diet if they cant be sure of the origin of the food.

curiositykilled Wed 28-Oct-09 08:48:57

You could let him try meat and fish outside the home if you are wanting him to make his own decision but be prepared for having to buy and cook meat and fish if he decides he likes it.

primigravida Wed 28-Oct-09 08:50:56

I'm a vegetarian and so is ds (aged 2) but dh isn't. I do most of the cooking and I'm never going to cook meat (I don't know how other veggies manage to. I'd prefer him not to eat meat at nursery. DH is quite happy to keep his steaks and bacon to himself.
Ds's nursery knows he's veggie and there's another veggie boy there and they have packed lunches so not really an issue for me, but was a consideration in choosing a nursery with packed lunches instead of cooked meals provided (also felt he'd get better quality food this way). At parties it's up to him, dh offered him a saveloy at a party recently and he ate it. At parties you don't need to send a separate lunch box as there is always lots of veggie options. I would prefer to steer ds away from meat but would like him to make his own decision in the future like I did as a kid being raised by a vegetarian mother and meat-eating father.
I see vegetarian as a default position and meat-eating as a choice to be made when a child is old enough to be aware of what their eating.

curiositykilled Wed 28-Oct-09 08:54:14

Sorry, should also say that it would be important to teach him about the connection between animals and his plate and how meat and fish can support a healthy diet - fats, proteins, amino acids, fish oils, calcium e.t.c.

Try to keep things honest and balanced. I would (and have) started this from a very young age because I'd like my children to grow up with open minds rather than in the way I've chosen. My 4 year old eats meat and fish, my 3 year old I think is choosing to be veggie. They both understand the various ways that animals live and die for our food.

piscesmoon Wed 28-Oct-09 08:55:47

I agree that you are doing the right thing-parents bring up their DC on what they eat themselves. However you have to bear in mind that he isn't a vegetarian, he is merely the DC of vegetarians.
I would say that in nursery you can always get him the vegetarian option but once he starts school he should have a free choice of the menu, if he has school dinners-if he has packed lunch you would of course stick to your normal foods.
If he goes to a party you should leave it to him to choose what he eats. There is nothing worse than a helicopter parent who polices food IMO.

I believe that if you want him to follow you lead by example but relax about what he eats ouside the home. If you try rigid control he will most likely do the opposite.

Tommy Wed 28-Oct-09 09:08:10

My DH is vegetarian and we have brought up the DSs to be as well.

Have only had one experience of eating at nursery (DS1 and 2 have packed lunch) but DS3 has the veggie opion at nursery ut if he ate some meat at a party or something, it wouldn't bother us.

DS2 has decided that he likes meat sausages hmmafter having one by mistake at a school party.

I think it's like many things - sweets, fizzy drinks etc - you can control it a home but once they get out there and start being more independent then you have to expect that they will make choices.

At 2 though, you are totally in charge and can decided what you want him to eat. I don't think that is unreasonable at all

stressedHEmum Wed 28-Oct-09 09:10:00

I don't think that I foisted societal norms on them, Riven. I think that I compromised my own stance, which has never really been as hard line as some other people's, because I felt that it was best for them. THere was always a concern about B vitamins and other nutrients in a child's diet when my older kids were born and when I turned veggie in 1980 it was really not mainstream. No-one else in my social circle was veggie, no-one I knew even knew any other veggies and it was a bit of a nightmare. it wasn't until I went to uni in Edinburgh that i discovered vegetarian restaurants for example.

Nowadays, I find, it is much easier to be veggie and to raise your kids veggie because there is so much more social awareness and because you can give them flaxseed oil grin. One of the issues was that most of my kids have SN and I was told from an early age to give them fish oils. You can't give a veggie those.

I would still let my children eat meat out of the house with their friends, even if I decided to ban it completely in the house (which I wouldn't be allowwed to do) because I very much feel that it is their choice and children, from a very young age, don't want to be different from their friends. I am still the only veggie that I know and none of my kids friends are veggie either, so forcing them to be vegetarian, espec when they don't want to be, would be a bit awkward for them. My husband would never allow it, in any case. My kids are all older now, anyway, youngest is 7, so they can choose for themselves. Eldest is 19 and at uni and, if it weren't so environmentally unfriendly, would probably eat steak for every meal. It's not really about conforming, because I am very non-conformist and always have been, it's about free choice and decision making. I allow my children to eat both meat and veggie meals while making my stance clear to them. if they then choose to become veggie, then that will be fine, it won't make much difference to our eating habits anyway.

On another note, the human body is designed to eat meat. We have meat eating teeth, a digestive system adapted to eat meat and a large brain built on eating the protein gained through meat. Meat eating is the norm because it is the natural thing for human beings to do. The problem that I have is the way that animals in the west are treated to satisfy the obssession that our society seems to have with meat eating. Our use of animals is now extremely disproportionate and has become unsustainable. What I believe is required is some sort of middle path and this is what I try to provide for my children.

pigletmania Wed 28-Oct-09 09:11:57

I think that you are doing fine, its good that you are giving your dc a choice in the future, i dont know exactly when the time would be when he wants meat, could be anytime or never.

ellokitty Wed 28-Oct-09 09:14:27

We're veggie and so are our DC. I would not want my DDs to eat meat at parties because that is exactly the sort of meat I would not want her eating if she did eat meat (often reformed meat with no guarantees to the animal welfare at all). Ethically, it does not sit right with me at all. I think I could come to terms with the animal being slaughtered if I knew the animal had a good life, but sausages etc is rarely made with freedom food meat!

We do however let them eat fish. Just for practical reasons really. Dd1 is now 6, we have said that she an make her own mind up at 8. However at themoment she is adament that she does not want to. However, I think that is mostly an emotional reaction to the fact that we often drive past a slaughterhouse, and she hates seeing the animals go in there, and she detests the smell in the summer!

twofalls Wed 28-Oct-09 09:30:10

I do think you have to be a bit balanced about it. I once saw a veggie mum dive across the room in a panic to snatch a sausage (and it was organic grin) out of her DD's hand, and took the tiny bag of sweets out of her party bag because they had gelatine in them whilst her DD howled. I peronsally thought that was probably going a bit far. Her DD didn't understand why she wasn't allowed those things because she was 2.5.

But not cooking meat and requesting veggie food at nursery/restaurants is fine in my book - I do because DD doesn't like meat so its easy for me.

I don't think its necessary to send them with a lunch box to parties. When they are too young for you to leave them you help them with their selection anyway and when they are old enough to be left they are probably old enough to start making decisions for themselves. And if they do nibble on a sausage or a ham sandwich its probably not the end of the world, even though it goes against YOUR ethics. By banning something you often make it seem so much more attractive anyway.

twofalls Wed 28-Oct-09 09:33:02

I do agree with you ellokitty on the "type" of meat you get at many parties <shudders>. Even if DD did eat meat i wouldn't really want her to eat it but as a one off its probably not really worth getting that het up about.

waitingforbedtime Wed 28-Oct-09 09:40:27

I have been vegetarian for almost 20 years since I was 9. I made an informed decision and have stuck to my guns ever since but any younger than that and I dont think kids can make an informed decision really.

Ds isnt vegetarian though he doesnt eat much meat anyways through choice. I am not entirely happy that he isnt vegetarian because I do feel a bit guilty about it in terms of animal welfare etc. Dh thought I would be forcing him to be veggie and I let him 'win' that argument I guess but I still feel like I am equally 'forcing' him to eat meat if that makes sense? To be honest, if he hadnt been underweight when younger and a nightmare with eating maybe he would've been veggie but I am have (completely unethically I know) always been grateful for whatever he will eat).

If ds WAS veggie I would, as others have said, request veggie option at nursery but I probably would let him eat meat at parties etc. I dont know any vegetarian kids though.

waitingforbedtime Wed 28-Oct-09 09:42:36

I have been vegetarian for almost 20 years since I was 9. I made an informed decision and have stuck to my guns ever since but any younger than that and I dont think kids can make an informed decision really.

Ds isnt vegetarian though he doesnt eat much meat anyways through choice. I am not entirely happy that he isnt vegetarian because I do feel a bit guilty about it in terms of animal welfare etc. Dh thought I would be forcing him to be veggie and I let him 'win' that argument I guess but I still feel like I am equally 'forcing' him to eat meat if that makes sense? To be honest, if he hadnt been underweight when younger and a nightmare with eating maybe he would've been veggie but I am have (completely unethically I know) always been grateful for whatever he will eat).

If ds WAS veggie I would, as others have said, request veggie option at nursery but I probably would let him eat meat at parties etc. I dont know any vegetarian kids though.

piscesmoon Wed 28-Oct-09 09:46:04

I agree with you ellokitty on the type of meat at parties, but you have to let go of the control outside your house as they get older. I know a couple of vegans who had strict control-both DCs are adult now and meat eaters. I think that they would have been far more likely to be vegan if their parents had been relaxed about it.

ninja Wed 28-Oct-09 09:47:09

I'm the same as you - DH and I are vegetarian for similar reasons to you.

When DD1 was at nursery we saw that the veggie meals (ie beans on toast) weren't very varied and so decided to let her eat meat.

She's 6 now and I'm happy with my decision, she can chose to eat meat at school and parties (and so has it about 3 times a week which I think is a healthy amount), she is a real meat lover thouigh.

Mys sister bought up her kids veggie and now 2 out of the 4 sneak meat behind her back at school, she found out once and it caused a difficult situation.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now