To eat or not to eat…meat. Exploring child vegetarianism

C has become increasingly interested / aware of where her food comes from.  Cue ‘what are my shreddies made of’ and if offered bacon, ‘that means I’m eating pig, right?’  She probably first asked about the source of various foods a couple of years ago but over the course of the last year the questions came increasingly thick and fast.

Then about six months ago she became hesitant to eat meat.  She mainly said that she didn’t like its taste, but the animal related questions suggested to me that she was concerned about where the chicken and beef on her plate started out.

I didn’t go too deep into discussion about about animal welfare and responsibly sourced food but we did talk a bit about the food chain in an attempt to make sense of this all.  I felt a little out of my depth though.  Was this just a stage?  If so should I just plough on with giving her meat?  Or should I support / encourage her vegetarian tendencies?  But if I did this, would I possibly turn a fad into an reality?

I  guess I didn’t want to undermine her beliefs but I also didn’t want to jump the gun.  And if we did explore a vegetarian route, where could I find the best advice on how to give her a healthy balanced diet with plenty of iron, protein, etc?

Personally I’m a reserved carnivore, just as happy eating veggie or meat dishes, and increasingly conscious of the socio-economic, environmental and health risks of factory farming, eating too much meat, or ignoring where your food comes from.

So far we have carried on as normal without pushing her to eat too much meat and I’ve found that if it’s integrated into a dish (think chicken curry) versus on its own next to a plate of potatoes and veg, she’s more likely to enjoy it.  I’m not sure whether preparing food in this manner masks the ‘meat’ taste or the thought of eating animals, or whether this is just the  style of cooking she prefers.

Have your children expressed vegetarian tendencies of their own accord? How did you handle it?  And if you are raising vegetarian children, how do you ensure that they get a balanced diet?


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