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DS, 4 1/2, horrorfied he's been eating animals

(29 Posts)
ohboyreallystupid Fri 05-Oct-12 11:20:20

Hello,

I'm sure lots of people have been through this already so I just thought I'd ask how others have dealt with it!

Our nanny, annoyingly, bought a DVD for our children called "Gordie" about a talking pig who rescues his family from the sausage factory. It's quite graphic - lots of whirring circular saws, knives being sharpened, piglets squealing. Pretty bl**dy awful actually - and the rest of the film is dire too.

Rather understandably, DS is now very upset and doesn't want to eat any animals. He's refused sausages and went white as a sheet when I answered his question honestly about what meatballs where (as he'd eaten those at school yesterday for lunch).

I've tried to say that animals can't really talk, don't have feelings like us and that they are happy and well looked after in farms (and even that it doesn't hurt when they are killed...hmm). However, I do have massive sympathy for him and can understand what looks like his desire to become a vegetarian.

But, being a very busy/lazy parent, I don't really want him to stick to a vegetarian diet just yet (if ever) and am quite sure it would be even harder to get him to eat a balanced diet with enough protein and iron in it for a growing boy.

We haven't yet had a full stop refusal to eat meat but I sense it might be coming. I'm trying to head it off. Any ideas?!

Thank you...

ohboyreallystupid Fri 05-Oct-12 11:21:37

Or horrified even blush! Clearly so upset by all this I can't even spell basic words

SummerRain Fri 05-Oct-12 11:32:18

Had he never asked what his meat was before? These things are easier when they're brought up understanding where their food comes from.

I would just have explained that the DVD was just a scary story, that there are strict laws saying the animals must be well cared for and not put through any pain. I would (and have) explain that humans are animals too and we are meat eaters, just like lots of other animals.

ohboyreallystupid Fri 05-Oct-12 12:08:38

Yes, he has asked before, but it was all rather abstract. He sees plenty of farms animals.

Yes, I'll make a point of emphasising the DVD was just a scary story, thanks. And I'll try explaining we are animals too etc. and see if that helps. Thank you.

VeritableSmorgasbord Fri 05-Oct-12 12:09:52

I'm not a vegetarian but he has valid concerns.
If he doesn't want to eat meat, that's fine, isn't it?

Valdeeves Fri 05-Oct-12 13:02:47

I think let him be a veggie for a bit - he'll soon go back to meat.
I'm not a veggie but I think it shows some intelligence on his part
To have taken it in and be acting as he does.

Valdeeves Fri 05-Oct-12 13:03:28

The nanny sounds terrible!!!

OneMoreChap Fri 05-Oct-12 13:06:42

My children were brought up knowing we're animals and we eat other animals!

crazygracieuk Fri 05-Oct-12 13:16:43

My son did the same at age 3. He didn't eat meat and fish for a couple of years because he didn't want to eat animals but then decided to eat meat again.

There's a lot of great meat substitutes out there . I couldn't be bothered to make more than 1 meal so we all ate veggie for a lot of meals.

mangohedgehog Fri 05-Oct-12 13:22:18

Sorry but if you really think that factory farmed animals are well cared for and not put through any pain then you are kidding yourself.

Your ds sounds like a thoughtful and humane little chap, qualities worth encouraging imo.

Vix07 Fri 05-Oct-12 13:22:53

I'm a bit shock that you think it's ok to lie about the animals being happy on a farm etc unless you really do make an effort to avoid factory farmed meat/dairy. Admittedly I was a bit older than your DS when I had my 'veggie phase' - how patronising - but a similarly dismissive approach from my DM meant I lost lot of respect for her when I started to find out more about it.

Perhaps you could respect your DS a little and let him make his own informed choices?

Meglet Fri 05-Oct-12 13:26:07

Let him go veggie! Of course animals feel pain, factory farmed animals are treated like crap.

My DC's are becoming more aware of what eating meat entails, I daresay we will all be veggie one day.

MegBusset Fri 05-Oct-12 13:26:53

I have just been through this topic with DS1 (5.8). He came home from school one day saying that it was horrible to eat animals and he would never do such a thing. I asked him where he thought his fish fingers, chicken and sausages came from! (We have always been open about where meat comes from but evidently it had never really sunk in before!)

He said that he wanted to stop eating meat which tbh I would have been fine with (DH and I are both veggies though give the kids meat) BUT he is allergic to eggs and pulses and I would be concerned about him getting enough protein in his diet, plus he is a fussy eater generally. I explained that it was quite natural for humans to eat meat and that because of his allergies he would need to keep eating it for now to get enough protein, and when he was fully grown he could make a decision then if he wanted to be a vegetarian.

He seemed satisfied with this and hasn't mentioned it again!

mellen Fri 05-Oct-12 13:29:50

It really isn't difficult to have a healthy vegetarian diet. If you do find yourself relying on convenience type foods then the average vegetarian product is probably healthier than some of the more dubious meat based things.
Lying to him isnt the answer - he will find out eventually what the truth is.

MegBusset Fri 05-Oct-12 13:32:40

Agree that cooking a vegetarian diet isn't hard these days - you can replace a lot of stuff with Quorn (again not an option for DS1 as it contains egg).

NatashaBee Fri 05-Oct-12 13:34:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

viagrafalls Fri 05-Oct-12 13:37:05

Another one here who is a bit shocked that you think its okay to dress it up that much about animals being happy and all that - agree, the nanny was a bit foolish to have shown them such a graphic dvd without a) checking with you b)watching it herself but the point is that your little boy (who sounds very sweet and empathic) has shown himself he would like to step back from eating meat - maybe if you really don't want him to be veggie for a bit you could make the effort to explain about organic, free range food and buy those in the future or, just indulge him - most children will go back to meat eventually.
I was made to eat meat by my father - and consequently as soon as I was able to tell him where to stick it I became vegetarian - I have only in the last year started to eat fish.

CarpeThingy Fri 05-Oct-12 13:40:08

Definitely lying or trying to sanitise the whole business isn't the best approach. You could try explaining that animals don't talk like Gordie, in case the "humanising" of the animals was his problem.

However, it's perfectly possible for a growing child to be a healthy vegetarian with adequate protein. A large proportion of the world's population don't eat meat. My dd turned veggie at 12 and is now nearly 14 - so she's at an important stage in her growth and development. But she's absolutely fine.

If it's your own "busyness/laziness" that's the problem, then yes, it's a bit of a faff until you get used to it, but it soon becomes second nature.

RamblingRosa Fri 05-Oct-12 13:41:40

I was young when I worked out where meat came from and decided to become a vegetarian. Admittedly a couple of years older than your DS. I'm still a veggie now. My DD is veggie too and has always understood where meat comes from. She's been offered meat but she is adamant she doesn't want to "eat animals".

It's really not hard to have a balanced veggie diet. I'm sure there are lots of good books out there with recipe ideas for veggie kids etc. Surely if he really doesn't want to eat it he'll just leave it on his plate?

OneMoreChap Fri 05-Oct-12 14:34:16

viagrafalls
if you really don't want him to be veggie for a bit you could make the effort to explain about organic, free range food if you're really quite well off.

Tesco divide shoppers into types.
Organic shoppers = Price Insensitive

ohboyreallystupid Fri 05-Oct-12 14:57:16

Thanks for the thoughts, which are mostly helpful. Think I was a bit hasty posting in retrospect.

Yes, we buy all free range/farm assured meat at home although don't avoid factory farmed meat in restaurants. I used to be a veggie (for a few years in my teens/early twenties) and am not dead set against it but was trying to get a feel for how people have dealt with an initial reaction from a child similar to my DS's, which must happen a lot and does not result in most small children becoming vegetarians.

We don't rely on convenience foods and don't give microwave meals to the children. I don't really think I am lazy or too busy to make sure my children have a nutritionally balanced diet - I was being flippant about my parenting efforts. But we all eat some meat (although not a lot) and if DS stops eating meat either it would take longer to prepare separate meals or we all need to change our diet. Like crazygracieuk, I think we'd probably adopt the latter option.

I'm not at all dismissive of what my DS thinks. I am massively impressed and totally love the fact he seems a lot more sensitive than some children his age. But he's 4 and a half and just had this reaction in the last two days. I haven't forced or even encouraged him to eat meat since. I've never forced him or my other child to eat anything and never would. Fingers crossed he hasn't lost all respect for me...(again, I don't really worry he will).

It wasn't very bright of the nanny but the DVD was in a sealed packet and she thought it looked like a sweet film that she picked up at the supermarket. I have told her it wasn't and I don't want the children to watch it again.

I have told him that animals don't talk and don't have the same "feelings" as humans.

I'm going to continue not to persuade him to eat meat, explain where it comes from and talk to him about carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.

Sorry if that sounds a bit defensive! I do appreciate a lot of your ideas (and posted in the first place to get some suggestions, so thank you!) but I think I'll duck out now and stick to lurking...!

Valdeeves Fri 05-Oct-12 17:54:21

Ha ha - don't lurk - you have a right to your feelings and opinions xxx
I was a veggie as a child after watching animals get slaughtered on the telly.I soon went back to meat as I felt faint without it.

Felicitywascold Fri 05-Oct-12 18:01:59

OP don't chicken out now grin

Seriously you are getting a bit of an undeserved pasting- but this is a contentious issue for many.

Take heart, you're doing the right thing,

Mama1980 Fri 05-Oct-12 18:08:44

grin at the chickening out comment. I think you're doing the right thing op but don't sanitise just tell the truth. I became veggie at 6 in similar circumstances and haven't touched meat/fish since but my children eat meat, it is for them to decide and form their own opinions. You can only facilitate and encourage this.

SummerRain Fri 05-Oct-12 19:35:56

Op, sounds like you're doing everything right. Don't panic about some of the more aggressive responses, not all us meat eaters condone factory farmed animals, I certainly don't buy them for the most part (not hard, I live in rural Ireland and the cows that end up at the butchers are happily being cows in fields all around us)

Whilst there's nothing wrong with being veggie, 4 is very young to make an informed decision. You have every right to discuss it with him and make sure he's making the right choice.

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