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Conflict with DH about bringing up vegetarian baby

(50 Posts)
MrsC16 Sat 14-May-16 09:17:04

Hi all,

I'm new to MN so be gentle and excuse any acronym mistakes!

My DH and I are going to start TTC for our first child soon so and we had a discussion (fight) about how we would feed our child last night sad

I have been a vegetarian due to ethical and health reasons for over 10 years and he's very much a meat eater. We generally look after our own meals at home or he will eat what I eat sometimes and add meat to it himself - this will obviously become more complicated when we have a baby!

I can't see myself feeding our child meat as it would really upset me and bringing them up as a child who loves and respects animals and who doesn't see just see them as food (as DH does) is really important to me. DH adamantly disagrees, won't even entertain looking at any of the research I've done (which is extensive) re vegetarian/non-vegetarian diets (on both sides of the debate) and is adamant that he wants our child to eat meat.

Has anyone been in a similar situation and reached a compromise? Any advice would be much appreciated!

violentvioletx Sat 14-May-16 09:21:03

I personally think that neither of you are right, in your shoes I would start baby with a mixture of vegetarian meals and meals containing meat. Then allow the child to choose when they are older. If DH really wants to feed the baby meat tell him he will have to have cook and feed the baby them.

DoinItFine Sat 14-May-16 09:23:13

I think whoever is making the food will decide.

Artandco Sat 14-May-16 09:25:24

I think baby gets both. When you cook they eat veggie, when he cooks meat can be option. When you eat as a family the meals will need to be veggie obviously mainly for ease as with a baby you won't want to both be cooking different meals every night when one could cook and one sort baby

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Sat 14-May-16 09:25:44

Not introducing a wide range of foods at a young age can sometimes (I believe) lead to intolerances to foods in later life.

Tbh I'd be really fucked off if my mum had done that to me.

0phelia Sat 14-May-16 09:25:58

You should raise the baby as vegetarian because this is much better from a nutritionional perspective, environmental perspective and ethical perspective.

Then let the child choose whether to be omnivorous when they are older.

0phelia Sat 14-May-16 09:27:43

You could always try pescetarian as a compromise (fish/veggie).

VegasIsBest Sat 14-May-16 09:28:00

I don't eat meat but my kids do. I always felt it was important to let them make their own decisions about things like that rather than imposing my views.

The more fundamental issue here is that you aren't even pregnant yet and yet you're arguing about this with your partner. Having kids is great but it's also really hard work. You need to be able to talk openly, respect each other's opinions and reach a compromise on all sorts of issues. Best to start practicing that now and see if you're really going to be successful as parents together.

outputgap Sat 14-May-16 09:32:20

I'm a veggie of 30ish years and I am happy for my kids to have meat, because I think it's their choice, not mine. But I get dh to give it to them, as I can't face handling it. They actually don't like it much, and really only have chicken and fish fingers!

SmallBee Sat 14-May-16 09:32:37

I am a meat eater and not educated on the benefits of one over the other.
However what I would do in this situation is say that whoever cooks that day provides their meal of choice. Once the child is old enough you can have a discussion about why Mum and Dad have different diets and why and let them make that choice.
I think it's really good you're having these discussions now as it's so important to be a team as parents.

outputgap Sat 14-May-16 09:33:55

Vegas, that's a very good point! Even ttc can be extremely hard work, so don't jump the gun about looking for stuff to fight about!

NicknameUsed Sat 14-May-16 09:38:04

"You should raise the baby as vegetarian because this is much better from a nutritionional perspective, environmental perspective and ethical perspective."

I agree that being vegetarian is better environmentally and ethically, but not nutritionally. Organic free range meat is not bad for you. Eating too much red meat or cured meats isn't great, but eating a corn fed, organic free range chicken with lots of vegetablles is a nutritionally sound meal.

PenguinsAreAce Sat 14-May-16 09:40:46

You have married a meat eater, despite your views. You must therefore be prepared to tolerate his meat eating. Why are you surprised that he now wants to feed a child of his meat? Can you see why he would be surprised you are saying you won't tolerate that?

If you were so firm in your views that you couldn't accept meat in the house, or someone you love eating it near you, you two would not be together.

I think the logical answer here is whoever cooks the food decides. You are not unreasonable to continue to refuse to cook meat.

Hulababy Sat 14-May-16 09:41:16

I don't eat meat though I'm not vegetarian (I eat fish and shell fish.) It is more than I don't like meat in terms of taste and texture and I've not eaten in since being about 12/13.

Dh does eat meat but will eat vegetarian stuff too. I am happy to cook meat and do so regularly.

When dd was born we fed her both vegetarian options and meat. Dd is 14 now and had long been given the choice - she eats meat through choice. Dd also loves animals and treats them nicely and with respect. She knows where her meat comes from, from a young age, but doesn't see animals purely as a form of food. She knows we try to buy meat from good sources and usually try to buy free range and/organic, etc. I don't think all meat eaters only see animals as food sources though.

Most of the people I know where there is one vegetarian and one meat ester parent tend to give both (ime) It often depends on who is doing the cooking/feeding that day.

windowsneedaclean Sat 14-May-16 09:42:07

My dd was raised veggie as I did most of her meals despite an initial argument with DP. However, once she got to about 5 she really wanted to try meat and I eventually gave in when she was 7. I really wanted her to have my love and respect for animals and thought she would find the idea of meat horrifying once she really understand what it was but she didn't. She loves rare steak and always wants to try different things like kangaroo and ostrich. I must admit, I tried really hard to get her to think like me but she clearly has her own opinions and in the end I had to respect that. ( even though she's wrong!) Am pregnant now and I know I'll end up having the same argument with DP....

DoItTooJulia Sat 14-May-16 09:42:16

I'm a veggie and have been for 30 years. My kids are veggie, as is DH.

I don't share the view that not feeding dc meat will cause them to have food intolerance issues later in life, but neither am I a militant veggie who thinks that everyone should be veggie: it's very much a personal choice.

The difficulty here is not sharing a view on raising children, and food has a pretty central role in daily life, so this is going to be an interesting one for you to reach a compromise on. It is entirely possible to have healthy meat eating children or healthy veggie children. Or unhealthy!

Do you share views on other aspects of raising a family? I really don't know the way forward here, except to say that I chose to become veggie at 6 years old, so I would allow your dc's the freedom to choose once they express opinions. Of course, there is an argument that I've narrowed my kids choices by bringing them up veggie-they haven't chosen to subsequently eat meat-I wonder if they'd have chosen to be veggie if is fed them meat? I'll never know. But my point is that we all make choices about parenting that others wouldn't make and we can't know all of the time how wise those choices are without the benefit of hindsight.

You're lucky in the sense that you can try and iron this out before your dc come along. Good luck-and try and remember it is only food at the end of the day.

Cathpot Sat 14-May-16 09:46:26

I am pescatarian (sp?) married to a very enthusiastic meat eater. Before the kids were born I always said if I'm feeding them they will eat what I'm having , and if you feed them they will eat what you're having. This was slightly disingenuous as I did nearly all the cooking but it sounded fair at the time.

Then I had DD1 and I was so grateful when I managed to get anything nutrious into her at all, that it all went out the window. I now have two meat eating children- and my line in the sand is we pay the extra for welfare friendly meat. I'm ok with this situation as firstly I don't eat meat not because I am anti ALL meat as such, but because I had seen too much intensive farming practises close up and stopped being able to stomach eating it after a slaughterhouse visit. Thiis sounds different to your motivation so it was less of an issue for me I suspect.

Secondly I did get my way in nearly all of the other areas of child rearing , particularly when they were little, so I was prioritising the battles. Also I feel that being vegetarian is a very personal decision and that they can see me model that lifestyle and they are now old enough to choose. I would obviously support them completely if they did decide to give up meat.

It is however , very hard having to share parenting decisions when you are not on the same page. It took me a long time to not just write off DHs opinions as idiotic because, I if I am being honest, I felt I knew far more than him on a day to day basis about childcare in the early years. i do now concede that he has every right to want to be heard even though I still don't always agree.

I can see it is very frustrating for you to feel that he won't even engage with the idea but he presumably feels strongly too and maybe thinks if there is no compromise available he will end up having to give in, so he doesn't want to even start talking about it. Can he express why he feels strongly about it? Does he feel it can't be done healthily? Are you willing to compromise at all?

PovertyPain Sat 14-May-16 09:51:48

I'm a dedicated vegan, none of this "I only eat eggs/fish/ a reward/now and again" shit, however I don't think there's going to be any 'winners' in this argument.

If you're feeding/cooking for the baby, you decide and if he's doing it, then he decides. He doesn't get to come into the kitchen and place meat onto the baby's meal, if you've prepared it and you don't get to remove it if he's prepared the meal. It's the only way to stop a serious falling out. The baby can still be educated about your beliefs and can make her/his own decision when she/he gets older.

You're going to have a hell of lot of disagreements if you don't discuss this now and you have to decide if the relationship can survive these differences in beliefs.

MrsLeighHalfpenny Sat 14-May-16 09:52:54

I'd like to point out that it is possible to love and respect animals AND eat their meat.
Most animals wouldn't exist if we didn't eat their meat.

Wildidle Sat 14-May-16 09:53:48

My DH was raised vegetarian and now finds it incredibly frustrating, his body just can't tolerate it. I'm currently pregnant, DC will eat meat to avoid repeating that problem.

Fwaffy Sat 14-May-16 09:57:09

Neither DH nor I are vegetarian but we used to be similar to you in that we'd generally fend for ourselves for dinner.

Since having DD though, I've changed working hours and generally cook an evening meal for us all to sit down to. It's a lovely part of our family life and you'll probably find yourselves having many more shared meals if you have a baby.

For us, if I'm cooking I choose the food. If DH cooks on a weekend or whenever, he'll choose. I appreciate that a vegetarian option would need to be there for you if you do the same, but i think let the chef decide on what the baby gets (if it's matters to be mainly veggie then you'll have to step in there I guess) and she/he can decide for themselves later in life.

Buggers Sat 14-May-16 10:00:03

I do eat meat not everyday though BUT I don't buy anything that's tested on animals to try to balance it out so I find your comment about seeing animals just as food quite insulting. anyway, maybe let your child decide for their self when old enough and in the mean time get all cruelty free cleaning/bath/cosmetic brands to balance it out, would that make you feel any better?

BoGrainger Sat 14-May-16 10:01:56

I think your child will have to be raised as a non-vegetarian. Whoever prepares and cooks the meal gets to decide the meat aspect but on the understanding your dh can't just add meat to a meal that you have prepared for your child in the way that he does with his own food.

clank2 Sat 14-May-16 10:03:06

Some very limited views here! It seems people still don't understand that a plant based lifestyle is the healthiest and it's not a bad thing to not want to give meat, it's very very good. Check out mangoisland mamma on you tube for a shining example of vegan babies and toddlers. Honestly I think that if I felt passionate about it, I would fight my partner on it, and show him how good it would be for your child. People are so pigheaded about eating dead carcasses, it really baffles me that the people wanting to live peaceful lives free from cruelty and helping the environment are considered as being's so backward. All that being said, I don't think it's worth the argument now! Breastfeed until 6 months and then introduce sweet juicy fruits, bananas, sweet potatoes...THEN have the discussion about your partner giving meat!

paxillin Sat 14-May-16 10:03:06

Whoever cooks, feeds. If you both work, this will be either of you, if one of you will stay home, that will be the one who has the most input.

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