This is my journey in keeping my family happy and healthy.
In this day and age, what parent knows best what to do and how to care for their family?
There are so many conflicting ideas, so much wisdom, and so many paths.
It is here that I will compile information on what I have learned and the choices I am making.
Maybe my path will help others.... or not. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

My 9 Year Old Daughter Wants to Be a Vegetarian

As a family, we eat as an omnivore. Individually, we eat differently. I, myself, am mostly vegetarian, though I do eat meat when it feels right. My youngest daughter eats like I do. We also do not eat dairy. This is due to a milk allergy. My eldest daughter and my husband have been mostly die-hard meat-eaters. This is why her request/desire surprised me. Not to say I wouldn't be overjoyed at the very least! But I also wanted to make sure it was what she really wanted, and needed, at this point in her life. I'd like to say I take a balanced perspective.

One thing that may have motivated her desire to be a vegetarian, is her understanding of the treatment of animals in order to become food for the masses. To me, it is important that my family (or anyone for that matter) be aware of where their food comes from and how it is produced. That goes for vegetables, processed foods, and yes, meat. I don't want my kids growing up being disassociated from the foods they eat. I don't want them going into a store to buy their food and not understand what it takes to get it there, and all the hard work before that. I want them to be connected to their food source. I want them to be educated and make educated choices.

I felt my eldest was old enough and intelligent enough to begin to understand where her food comes from, and to make choices for herself as to how she should be eating. I mean, afterall, she will be taking care of herself eventually, and making all of her own choices eventually. So why not start now? I also use this as part of my parenting technique. If a kid understands WHY to do or not do something, and is allowed to make that choice for themselves (consequences too) then I think this teaches them to think intelligently.

I only do the best that I can as a parent. I try to lead by example. I try to give the materials and education my child needs (inside & outside the classroom). I try to provide learning tools at ripe learning moments. And then it's up to the child to go from there.

So in the case of my daughter wanting to be a vegetarian; what is right for her? I don't know. But I do know we are going to watch "Food Inc" and I am going to give her books and materials to help her make her own choices. This includes varied nutrition books, books on vegetarianism, books on whole foods nutrition & eating healthy meats and foods grown with love, books on eating closer to the source, and materials from PETA and the ethical treatment of animals. Basically everything she needs to make an intelligent choice for herself.

And of course, reminding her that if she were a vegetarian, there'd be none of her favorite foods... like bacon, ham sandwiches, etc.

I admit, I would try to steer her towards the idea of first starting with eating foods closer to the source. Eating foods that have not been processed. Eating foods that have been made with love. All of those things go into making healthier more nutritious foods. I would encourage her to start small. Like by eating meats that were, as animals, cared for lovingly and given free range to roam.

And if she still wants to be a vegetarian, then great! I'm all for teaching her how to do that in a healthy way.

I understand her desire! She'd said to me the other day, "I just don't think I can eat something I care about. I don't want to eat chicken anymore because I love them." Who can argue with that?

We do teach her that eating meat is part of survival for many species. And that if you care for and honor the animal, that this is better than how they are treated in factory-farms. But I am all for not having as much meat in the house.

I myself was raised a meat-eater. But I became I vegetarian when I lived with my father and step-mother for several years. They are die-hard vegetarians! So much so, that my step-mother said she would not marry my father if he dare ate any meat, ever again. To me, this is a bit severe. I was a vegetarian when I met my husband. And he, a die-hard meat-eater!! VERY much so! We've figured out how to blend our diets some, so that we can live together. He knows I will not cook much meat, so if he wants it, he will have to make it himself. I will cook simple meats to add to their meals, like heating sausage for example. Or I enjoy making fish at times. So, not having to cook as much meat, is fine by me.

But I am also not that selfish as to steer her choice because of my desires. I want her choice to be her own. And as I said, I will give her the tools to make an educated choice. That is all I can do.

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