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Vegetarian children – your decision or theirs?

When I was pregnant with my first child I expected lots of questions. ‘Do you know what you are having? ‘What would you prefer’ ‘Are you sure it’s not twins’ (I put on a lot of weight that time it was fair comment.) The one question I wasn’t expecting was ‘You’re not going to bring it up as a vegetarian are you?’ I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting that, I mean I’ve been veggy since I was a 19-year-old student. A dim and distant time before Quorn and supermarket own brand meat free food. A time when the only meat substitute was brown dried soya that had to be soaked in a stock cube for at least an hour to give it a marginally less bland flavour. Yet the possibility of raising my child as a vegetarian had never occurred to me.

My husband eats meat – not as much as he used to but if we have a meal out he will automatically choose it. Probably steak and always rare, perhaps blue. We must make an odd couple. Me with my nut roast and him settling down to eat something that could possibly be brought back to life with a good vet. But I had never tried to make him veggy. Again it had never occurred to me. Changing my eating habits was my decision so why would I force someone else to do it.? So I was able to answer anyone who asked ‘no the baby won’t be vegetarian. That will be their decision when they are old enough.’

It did annoy me though. Why shouldn’t I raise my child as a vegetarian? Most people would agree that eating too much meat is not good for you. There are health scares over meat all the time. No one has suggested that brocolli might be bad for you – apart from one of my son’s friends who came for tea and insisted he was allergic to the green stuff. He wasn’t.

But I believe that it being vegetarian should be their decision, when they are older, if and when they want to. I didn’t want teatimes at friends’ houses to become a minefield of what they could and couldn’t eat or to have to check that there were things they could have at parties instead of ham sandwiches and sausage rolls. I have spent enough meals out wishing there was something more exciting on the menu than pasta and vegetables to not want my children to go through that too.

I was worried about vitamins and minerals. Would they get everything they needed if they didn’t have meat?

So when they were old enough for ‘proper’ food they did have meat. And they both hated it. In fact neither of them liked the texture for several years. Now their favourite meal is a full roast dinner. They are both big fans of rare roast beef but they also eat Quorn quite happily. I can’t see either of them turning veggy in the near future and that’s fine with me. I want them to enjoy food and get as many taste experiences as they can. So for now I am a lone veggy in a house of carnivores. But when they are older, should they want to, I’ll have the lentils ready.

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5 comments on “Vegetarian children – your decision or theirs?

  1. Diane
    June 30, 2012

    Great piece! I know someone who’s veggie and won’t let her kids eat meat, and it always seemed too controlling to me. I have no problem if the parents can’t bear it in the house — it’s their house — but to tell a kid they’re “not allowed” doesn’t seem fair, or for the parents to decide. I went vegetarian for a few years as a teen myself, but I hated vegetables and pulses made me um, unwell, so it didn’t last. My mum was very disappointed when I started eating meat again, and promptly turned vegetarian herself.

  2. Sarah
    July 1, 2012

    I think it is absolutely fine to bring kids up as vegetarian. By the time my youngest sister was born my family were all veggie so there was no meat or fish in our house. My other sisters’ children are also all veggie, from birth. They can all make their own decisions later in life, but a vegetarian diet is healthy so I don’t see it as an issue at all.

    • Keris
      July 2, 2012

      I agree, Sarah. We make pretty much all children’s decisions for them – and then say they can make their own decisions when they’re older – so I don’t see why being vegetarian is any different.

  3. susanw40
    July 2, 2012

    I think it’s a very personal decision to make and in the end you have to do what is right for your family. If everyone else in the house is vegetarian then it’s bound to be the best way. I have to say I think there is more support now for bringing up a child as a veggy (from health visitors etc) than there was even eight years ago, which has got to be a good thing.

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This entry was posted on June 30, 2012 by in Bea Family, Bea Spiritual and tagged , , .
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