Vegetarianism

79


Discussion by: masterboot

I raise my 3 year old son as a vegetarian. 
Am I then forcing my beliefs upon him just as I would if i raised him as a christian?

Many people around me say I should let him decide for himself when he is old enough. But wouldn't that be the same as if I should raise him as a racist and then let him decide for himself later on… Can you see my problem? (sorry if my english is bad.. it's my second language) 

I think it's wrong when people force their religion upon small children and at the same time I'm "forcing" my vegetarianism upon him… I know I'm doing what I think is morally correct but purely logically I confuse myself :)

Any thoughts?

79 COMMENTS

  1. You raise your kids according to what you deem correct and responsible behavior. That is what the religious folks are doing (you see it as wrong… so you do not do it with your kids)… Then, when they reach the age where they have the ability to think for themselves, you let them.

    The key here is that when they choose a path that you would not choose for them, that you do not hate/disown (even murder) them for their independent decision.

    Arm them with a toolkit that they can use to meet the world and then enjoy watching them engage the world.

    Fanatics control their kids; parents prepare them.

  2. Interesting question. There are two sets of reasons that people become vegetarians health and ethical. I’m going to start with the health reasons. I used to be a vegetarian. Now I’m mostly a vegetarian. I almost never eat meat but I eat fish fairly regularly. The reason I changed was that I didn’t think I was getting enough protein and nutrients by my vegetarian diet. I was never a vegan so was eating a lot of things like veggie pizza, not exactly super healthy. Since I’ve switched to mostly vegetarian with some eggs and fish I’ve lost weight without any formal diet beyond just keeping an eye on how many calories and I even feel a bit more energy and healthy due to eating more nutritional food I think but of course on those things its so hard to separate psychological issues.

    My daughter is in a similar situation (her decisions definitely influenced me she knows a lot about nutrition). She was a vegan for a while but she was concerned about protein, etc. She will eat fish every once in a while but will eat eggs (from non factory farms).

    For a child I would be very concerned are they getting enough protein and nutrients also are you over using protein substitutes like soy that also may have harmful effects if you eat too much of it. Some people assume that vegetarian automatically is more healthy but I don’t think that is necessarily the case.

    • In reply to #2 by Red Dog:

      For a child I would be very concerned are they getting enough protein and nutrients also are you over using protein substitutes like soy that also may have harmful effects if you eat too much of it.

      Iron is also an issue. Speaking personally, I’m prone to anæmia. I have tended to eat mostly white meat and fish, but the doctor advised me to eat more red meat (lean meat) at certain times because the iron from meat is more easily assimilated by the body than iron from vegetables. I prefer to do it that way than by popping iron pills. Too many vegetarians and vegans I know claim to be eating healthily, but are forever taking vitamin and mineral supplements.

  3. I believe you are making a “health choice” for your son as withholding caffeine or not smoking in frount of him would be.

    I was a vegetarian for 10 years of childhood. Many Seventh-Day-Adventists were. My family ate only the “clean meats” of The Old Testament (no shellfish, no cloven hooves etc.). I chose to be totally meatless.

    You didn’t say why you are a vegetarian and if you indeed are one yourself. I am just guessing that it is a Healthy Diet choice.

  4. On the ethical issues, I think my opinion here is the same as when people ask “should I raise my child an atheist”. I think the right thing to do on these issues is to explain to your child why you make the choices you make but give them freedom (within limits of course, can’t have cookies for every meal) to make up their own choice once they reach an age when they are capable of doing that.

    I would also be concerned about the potential conflicts. People don’t crave anything so much as something they are prohibited from having. Your child is going to be surrounded by crap food and by peers who consume it endlessly.

  5. All parents indoctrinate their children to some degree or another, even if they aren’t trying. It’s called “parenting”. :-) It can’t be prevented. Raising them to obey the law, or live by the Golden Rule (even without religion)… your still teaching your children your world view.

    • In reply to #6 by A3Kr0n:

      It’s your responsibility to “force” your beliefs on your children. That’s why you’re the parent.

      I disagree. Children have rights. Not as many rights as adults of course and where you draw the line between respecting them as individuals and doing what’s best for them is not always clear cut and different people will make different choices. But to just say it the way you do, that essentially the parent can (and it sounds like you mean should) “force” all their beliefs on the child is wrong.

    • In reply to #7 by EricTheRed:

      Vegetarianism is a moral choice. Really?

      Obviously it is for the people who believe animals deserve moral consideration. For the higher animals this is not unreasonable.

  6. You have to feed your child something. It would be indoctrination only if you told him unsubstantiated facts about diet. That eating meat requires slaughtering animals, or that non-free range chickens are raised in factory farms that are a form of animal cruelty is well substantiated. For an older child you can explain the energy efficiency of a vegetarian diet.

  7. I would say there is a great difference between “forcing” a vegetarian diet upon one’s child and brainwashing them to believe in fairy tales: there are good reasons for being a vegetarian (ethical, environmental, and health). So put in another way: vegetarianism is true (or at least one true perspective), while religions are not. Also, despite what some seem to think, vegetarianism is a complete, balanced diet if done right. It will not harm your child. (I assume you’re a lacto-ovo-vegetarian as most vegetarians are.) Religions on the other hand have great potential to cause harm because they make people suspend their critical thinking.

    Secondly, as crookedshoes already said, as long as you explain to him the reasons for your choice, and do not disown him if he decides to take a different path in life when he is old enough to make that choice, then you are just doing what parents do. You’re guiding him in life using principles that are not harmful but at the same time you’re teaching him how to make informed decisions about the world himself.

    As I see it, you are not forcing your views on him in the same way many religious parents are. You are simply raising him on a diet that is nutritionally really no different from one that contains meat. Most of us have just been conditioned from birth to think that a “normal” diet is one that contains meat, and a meatless option is somehow lacking and not normal. But in my mind you really don’t have to justify your choice one way or the other. Vegetarianism might be meatless, but not protein-less. Why would it be wrong to feed him a diet like that? If you decided not to vaccinate him or something similar, then your choice would be dangerous and you would be forced to justify it.

  8. I would say there is a great difference between “forcing” a vegetarian diet upon one’s child and brainwashing them to believe in fairy tales: there are good reasons for being a vegetarian (ethical, environmental, and health). So put in another way: vegetarianism is true (or at least one true perspective), while religions are not. Also, despite what some seem to think, vegetarianism is a complete, balanced diet if done right. It will not harm your child. (I assume you’re a lacto-ovo-vegetarian as most vegetarians are.) Religions on the other hand have great potential to cause harm because they make people suspend their critical thinking.

    Secondly, as crookedshoes already said, as long as you explain to him the reasons for your choice, and do not disown him if he decides to take a different path in life when he is old enough to make that choice, then you are just doing what parents do. You’re guiding him in life using principles that are not harmful but at the same time you’re teaching him how to make informed decisions about the world himself.

    As I see it, you are not forcing your views on him in the same way many religious parents are. You are simply raising him on a diet that is nutritionally really no different from one that contains meat. Most of us have just been conditioned from birth to think that a “normal” diet is one that contains meat, and a meatless option is somehow lacking and not normal. But in my mind you really don’t have to justify your choice one way or the other. Vegetarianism might be meatless, but not protein-less. Why would it be wrong to feed him a diet like that? If you decided not to vaccinate him or something similar, then your choice would be dangerous and you would be forced to justify it.

  9. Hello. I think the crucial distinction you should remember here is the difference between the physical and the imaginary. Religion is based on imaginary ideology that has no scientific foundation at it’s core and is a belief system. Vegetarianism is based on a vast variety of careful scientific study of the natural world, and is supported by a lot of good sound peer reviewed objective fact and is not a belief system, but a diet. You are not telling your child it will go to hell for eating meat. You are telling it that eating meat is not absolutely necessary for a healthy body. See the difference?
    I am not a vegetarian but I eat very little meat.

    Of course you may still abusing your child by giving it an unhealthy vegetarian diet instead of a healthy one, but that’s really nothing to do with religion is it?

    • In reply to #10 by jopublick:

      Hello. I think the crucial distinction you should remember here is the difference between the physical and the imaginary. Religion is based on imaginary ideology that has no scientific foundation at it’s core and is a belief system. Vegetarianism is based on a vast variety of careful scientific stud…

      Plus, it’s possible to give your child an unhealthy diet designed around a meaty main course.

  10. You shouldn’t have any concern. You raise your son to have good manners and respect the elderly as well. You want him to grow up to be his own man, but that will come. You guide him to your ideals, that’s the best a mother or father can do, and it is inevitable, it’s instinct. He will sort out the rest. If you start overthinking it, you will run in circles as to what is right, which is when rationale is used in excess over the instincts of being a mother.

  11. As long as you are not being a dick about it, he’ll eventually make up his own mind.

    I’ve got nothing against the veggies, There are ethical reasons that I can respect. But man… bacon!

  12. Health isn’t the same as religion. I was raised with a “good” diet and now am on statins with severe blockage in my arteries and orders from the doc to become a vegan immediately….just just vegan but no cooking with oil or buying any ingredients that list fat on them. Had I been raised a vegetarian I’m confident I would have much better health today. Were I raising a family today we would be vegan or very close to it.

  13. You’re going to raise your son as either a vegetarian or as an omnivore. You have to choose one or the other. Neither can justifiably be regarded as forcing your opinions on him.

    When he’s older he will choose if he wants to remain a vegetarian, just as a child raised as an omnivore will choose if he wants to remain an omnivore. You are still entitled to only offer him vegetarian food, just as you are entitled to offer anyone whatever kind of food you like to prepare.

  14. This is not a question of “beliefs”, it’s about your growing child’s nutrition. Is he getting enough and in the right balance and is he healthy? The answers to these questions are all empirically verifiable facts about reality. I suspect that the answers to these questions are no, but am open to persuasion by evidence.

  15. If you raise your child to be a vegetarian proselytizer, then you’re making vegetarianism into something very close to a religion. As a person who has no moral or ethical objection to eating meat and is familiar with life expectancy calculations, I grow very weary of people who adopt a “holier than thou” attitude about their vegetarianism which I find indistinguisable from that of religious fanatics who feel compelled to “save” my soul.

    • In reply to #16 by EEISElmo:

      If you raise your child to be a vegetarian proselytizer, then you’re making vegetarianism into something very close to a religion. As a person who has no moral or ethical objection to eating meat and is familiar with life expectancy calculations, I grow very weary of people who adopt a “holier than…

      Yes. I don’t think it is healthy for young children to be deprived of haem-iron (more easily assimilated than iron from vegetables) or protein and calcium. The least-healthy children I have known were raised vegetarian from being in utero. What they do as adults is up to them, but I would be very concerned about imposing dietary restrictions of any kind on young children.

      There is also the matter of parental attitude: raising them to condemn or look down on others for having other dietary preferences is odious, and on a par with the insufferability of the religious. (In fact the parents of the children I mentioned above were like that – and were proselytising Christians, too. It eventually destroyed our friendship.)

  16. Other than the question of whether any meat you might consume has been reared and slaughtered in a humane manner, something we can all take care about, it’s hard to see where meat eating is a moral question. Humans have been eating meat as part of a varied diet since the get-go, as do our nearest cousins the chimpanzees. Meat was a high-value foodstuff for our ancestors and assisted in providing the high levels of energy our developing and hungry brains required to get us where we are today.

    I can see why you’d prefer not to eat meat if you simply don’t like it, or don’t like the idea of animals being killed to provide food but it’s hardly a moral question if there’s no cruelty involved. As far as ‘forcing’ your child to become a vegetarian is concerned, that’s what you’re doing if that’s how you’re thinking about it: you’re controlling him. You’ve entered the realms of principled and dogmatic eating, which lines you up with the muslims and the Jews. Probably best to give your child the broadest upbringing you can and that should also include letting him experience and benefit from as wide a variety of culinary experiences that you can lay before him. Let him make his own mind up. I know a couple of people who were brought up as vegetarians and who, on reaching adulthood and experiencing more of what the earth’s cornucopia has got to offer, felt ripped off and short-changed by their vegetarian parents.

    Having said that, at the age of three, he’ll be happy with anything as long as it’s got health-giving tomato ketchup on it. Or is that off the menu too?

    • In reply to #17 by StickyWillie:

      Other than the question of whether any meat you might consume has been reared and slaughtered in a humane manner, something we can all take care about, it’s hard to see where meat eating is a moral question.

      In what far-off fantasy land does this happen?

  17. No I don’t see anything wrong with this. As long as the child gets good nutrition , then that’s fine , IMO.

    Also parents generally instil in a child there outlook in life. When he reaches teens and adulthood he is going to have to face the world where everyone has an opinion on how others should live their life. Everyone has biases , it’s impossible to isolate yourself from this. We all have a backstory and I guess this is your child’s story..

  18. As long as the kid is healthy getting all the proper nutrients a child needs the only thing I would warn you against is forcing or punishment if the child tries meat on his own. The act of providing a diet, in the sense of a supply of food, for your child is the same whether it is meat based or vegan based and we never challenge parents for feeding meat to their children. The only truly valid challenges would be over nutrition and amount.

    • In reply to #19 by DocWebster:

      As long as the kid is healthy getting all the proper nutrients a child needs the only thing I would warn you against is forcing or punishment if the child tries meat on his own. The act of providing a diet, in the sense of a supply of food, for your child is the same whether it is meat based or vegan based and we never challenge parents for feeding meat to their children. The only truly valid challenges would be over nutrition and amount.

      I think your comment sums up the position.

      There are planetary and moral issues of eating meat – particularly from animals high in the food chain – where the losses of nutrient (about 10%+ per step) in the the steps from primary production in plants to food product are numerous.

      There are however nutritional issues of in adequacies in a vegetarian diet for growing children.

      Also the term “vegetarian” tends to be vague. – (Eggs? milk? oily fish?)

      In terms of moral issues, while production per unit of land is greater for vegetables, large areas of wild habitat have wildlife dispossessed, to provide humans with crops or fuel.

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=harvesting-palm-oil-and-rainforests

      It’s no wonder that worldwide demand for palm oil has surged in recent years. Long used in cosmetics, palm oil is now all the rage in the snack food industry, since it is transfat-free and therefore seen as healthier than the shortening it replaces.

      But to produce palm oil in large enough quantities to meet growing demand, farmers across Southeast Asia have been clearing huge swaths of biodiversity-rich tropical rainforest to make room for massive palm plantations. Today palm oil production is the largest cause of deforestation in Indonesia and other equatorial countries with dwindling expanses of tropical rainforest.

      • In reply to #27 by Alan4discussion:
        Correction / clarification

        @27 There are planetary and moral issues of eating meat – particularly from animals high in the food chain – where the losses of nutrient (about 10%+ per step) in the the steps from primary production in plants to food product are numerous.

        This should have said only 10% is passed up the food chain, and about 90%+, is wasted in the digestion at each stage.

        Sorry the earlier comment was not clear.

  19. Many here would probably justify their position on the basis that we are evolved meat eaters. The crux of it really is , ‘Is a vegetarian lifestyle healthy for a developing child’. Nothing else matters.

  20. Well, if you don’t stuff his head with nonsense about how anyone who has a diet differing from yours is evil (as many vegans have a nasty habit of doing), and don’t threaten him with withholding of parental acceptance/approval if he at some point develops omnivorous habits, then no, you’re not the same as the average god-botherer. Basically, it boils down to how dogmatic you are about your vegetarianism. If you can’t/won’t tolerate the possibility that a different diet may be equally valid, then you may as well be one of the faithful, because that’s how they behave.

  21. I don’t think you need to worry about it.

    Human nature incorporates some checks and balances. Some kids are programmed to instinctively seek alternative paths slightly before they acquire the ability to think for themselves. So some kids will end up doing something different, if only because it is different. Reason are not necessary.

    An example is that parental influence eventually diminishes via peer pressure. Via social conformance and fashion. Most parents who became fully vegetarians probably didn’t follow their own parents’ example. It might have been their own teenage rebellion, in the direction of something that was popular among peers at the time.

    If you really want your kids to be vegetarian there’s quite a lot of work required to get them to do it effectively, due to nutrition constraints. Most kids won’t be that passionate about it. Though it’s possibly a matter of degree. Most people being mostly vegetarian, at least some of the time anyway. Depends on whether you count volume or energy in food content.

    A worthwhile thing to do is to raise a child’s consciousness about the quality and nature of their food. It probably doesn’t matter how you go about it. It’s important because there are very powerful influences working against them. The child will form their own conclusions eventually, but only if they are aware that there is even an issue.

    It wasn’t that long ago that the tobacco industry had virtually convinced most people in the world to smoke cigarettes. It was just accepted as normal that every car in the world would have an ash tray installed in the instrument panel. And those same organisations have more recently been extremely successful in convincing most of the world to consume massively excessive amounts of processed sugar, fat, and salt. To the extent that auto manufacturers are now removing the ash trays and are instead assembling cars with wider seats for even bigger butts.

    Many people who apply the necessary effort into understanding human physiology and nutrition discover that there are serious health constraints with vegetarianism. There may be valid ethical considerations behind vegetarianism. But the economic and nutritional considerations, originally part of the justification, have long since been debunked. Though the state of published scientific evidence in areas of both public health and economics is very poor. So the institutional scientific consensus can appear very muddled.

    There’s an aspect of anti-science that creates something of a cult like aspect to vegetarianism. E.g. You wouldn’t expect to hear about bomb threats being made by omnivarians targeting a vegetarian convention. But you do sometimes get the reverse. Similarly with animal rights activists adopting the tactics of anti-abortionists.

    It’s probably reasonable to assume that vegetarianism is something more like a religion than not. One way of determining whether something is a religion or not is to check on who is making the bomb threats against who. It doesn’t necessarily determine which side is right or wrong. But it can sometimes indicate which is the more irrational ideology.

  22. It’s a language problem. The word for someone who is not a vegetarian is “carnist”. When they raise their children to eat meat, they are forcing their carnist beliefs onto them.

    When your child grows into an adult, it will be up to him, by law, whether or not he wants to needlessly harm animals for the sake of palate pleasure. But until he is an adult, there is no reason to force him to be a part of an immoral act.

  23. The way you phrase it masterboot (“raise … as a vegetarian” and “morally correct”), I get the feeling that vegetarianism for you is an ethical stance as well as the adoption of a diet (I guess it’s like this for a lot of vegetarians). I have no beef (a lame pun) with people avoiding meat because they deem the treatment of animals involved in the meat industry to be unfair or unjust or if, in fact, they disagree with the killing of animals no matter what the circumstance (although I would make an exception in cases such as being attacked by a flock of starving pigeons or similar life-or-death situations).

    However, I can imagine a child getting old enough to ask sensible questions about why humans have the ability to eat meat if it’s immoral to do so, and a child might perhaps inquire about the suffering of the animal and what is done to minimize it, why other apparently sensible people eat meat and why the natural world of predators and prey is clearly an indifferent and often cruel aspect of reality. Other scenarios will occur to those who ponder over the details .

    Now, if the parent responds to the child in a close-minded and forceful way and pushes the belief (however justified) upon the child that eating meat is immoral and it shouldn’t be questioned then this is when rational thought disappears and an overlap with religious indoctrination emerges. My thought would be that a child can be brought up as a christian, vegetarian, etc. once the parent keeps an open mind and teaches the child to do the same. It’s impossible to raise a child that is free from all indoctrination and have him mediating on the underlying reason and logic behind everything so at least try to indoctrinate him mildly and give him the tools to undo the indoctrination when he gets old enough to engage in rational thought.

  24. Am I then forcing my beliefs upon him just as I would if i raised him as a christian?

    Probably not. Christianity is lifestyle preference rooted in paranormal beliefs. Eating preferences don’t require beliefs; you can make evidence-based decisions.

    Mike

  25. Arguments for a plant diet are varied.

    1. improved health
    2. cruel treatment of living animals
    3. causing early death of the animal
    4. reducing water, energy, land footprint. It takes 8,952 liters of water to raise 1
      kilogram of beef.
    5. much cheaper. Meat and feed is heavily subsidised which disguises the difference.

    Argument for a carnist diet include:

    1. tastes good
    2. concentrated protein
    3. human anatomy (teeth and gut) are omnivore.
    4. in some cultures (e.g. Texas) meat eating is required to demonstrate social status.
    5. hard to avoid in a carnist culture that often serves meat and little else.
    • In reply to #28 by Roedy:

      Arguments for a plant diet are varied.

      improved health
      cruel treatment of living animals
      causing early death of the animal
      reducing water, energy, land footprint. It takes 8,952 liters of water to raise 1
      kilogram of beef.
      much cheaper. Meat and feed is heavily subsidised which disguises the diff…

      That is a good list except for “improved health”. While many rich people eat too much meat, some meat is very healthy thing to eat. Meat is the best way to get the various proteins you need.

      • In reply to #60 by catmentality:

        In reply to #28 by Roedy:

        reducing water, energy, land footprint. It takes 8,952 liters of water to raise 1
        kilogram of beef.

        I like my meat, provided it is grass-fed and humanely slaughtered. After watching the following video I even can eat it without a bad conscience, if this method for rising…

        A wonderful TED talk, one of the best ones I ever heard. The scientist, who I didn´t know at all before, speaks very clearly and apparently unhurried.

        Love that, THANKS for the link. This claim strikes me: to think of nature in it´s entire complexity was not an easy task and if no one would have dedicated a lifetime to figure it out, it would be worse.

        If Marc Bekoff says”good isn´t good enough”, for similar reason, just to think -I mean without any serious purpose or dedication-isn´t good enough too.

      • In reply to #60 by catmentality:

        In reply to #28 by Roedy:
        I like my meat, provided it is grass-fed and humanely slaughtered. After watching the following video I even can eat it without a bad conscience, if this method for rising…

        I think making you feel better is entirely the point.

        • In reply to #68 by Skeptic:

          In reply to #60 by catmentality:

          In reply to #28 by Roedy:
          I like my meat, provided it is grass-fed and humanely slaughtered. After watching the following video I even can eat it without a bad conscience, if this method for rising…

          I think making you feel better is entirely the point.

          Obviously you haven’t watched the video.

  26. Can’t help but notice the ideological and political connotations in some of these comments, such asthe use of the word ‘carnist’ to describe everyone who isn’t vegetarian.
    It’s very absolutist and promotes otherisation of those who eat meat, portraying them as some sort of ‘worshippers of meat’ with no conscience. This sort of selfrighteousness is nauseating and no different to the christian equivelant.

    I completely understand the moral issues around rearing animals for food and I have problems with it myself. However if you’re pushing for vegetarianism in this way you are promoting ideology, which is very close to promoting religion.

    The fact is while there may be moral reasons to not eat meat, there are plenty of health reason to not exclude it entirely.
    While it is possible to lhave a balanced diet without it, it is not at all practical in modern society, nor is it easy to satisfy a childs diet.
    It is difficult enough to get your child to eat enough of the right foods without excluding a whole and very nutritionally rich food group.
    As others have said, nutrition is paramount, and unless you’ve got a lot of time and money to source the best food AND manage to convince your child to eat that food, it’s probably not going to work out and you could be hindering your childs development.
    Children need plenty of protein and vitamins during development. Not to meantion, we evolved our higher brain functions through eating meat, it was this nutrient rich food source that allowed our ancerstors to expend more energy in brain functio, we wouldn’t be here without it.
    Are your morals about the maltreatment of animals more important than your childs health?

    Also already mentioned is the vagueness of the term ‘vegetarian’ these days.
    Would you allow your child to eat Eggsor Fish?
    If the answer is yes then there is not so much of a problem, eggs are a great source of protein and vitamins and could more than make up for a lack of meat in your childs diet, and it’s fairly easy to source free range eggs these days. Fish is even better, especially oily fish.

    I myself rarely eat meat, when I do it’s mostly eat fish, with some very occasional poultry, making the rest up with eggs and whey protein. I would prefer not to harm animals, but in the end your health and your childrens health should be your first priority.

    • In reply to #29 by Seraphor:

      Can’t help but notice the ideological and political connotations in some of these comments, such asthe use of the word ‘carnist’ to describe everyone who isn’t vegetarian.
      It’s very absolutist and promotes otherisation of those who eat meat, portraying them as some sort of ‘worshippers of meat’ with…

      I agree absolutely. What’s more I think people like this aren’t as concerned in reality about animal suffering as they claim to be. They end up turning more people away from animal rights issues with their stridency. For them its all about being smug and superior against people who aren’t like them, more so than actual concern (i.e. a desire to do something real to reduce) animal suffering.

    • In reply to #29 by Seraphor:

      Can’t help but notice the ideological and political connotations in some of these comments, such asthe use of the word ‘carnist’ to describe everyone who isn’t vegetarian.
      It’s very absolutist and promotes otherisation of those who eat meat, portraying them as some sort of ‘worshippers of meat’ with…

      I dunno, if any group of people suffers the slings of “otherization,” it’s vegetarians, I’ve found. We are often accused of being dietary snobs even if we go about our vegetarianism quietly & totally mind our own business.

  27. It’s also worth noting that meat isn’t the only food who’s production causes massive amounts of damage to our environment and economies around the world.

    See this peice example:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/16/vegans-stomach-unpalatable-truth-quinoa

    Large portions of South America are currently being ravaged by the productionof these foods.
    Quinoa has forced millions into poverty, where fast food is the cheaper alternative to their own grain now way overpriced.
    Asparagus has brought vast droughts to regions and Soya production is a leading cause of deforestation.

    Meanwhile local farmers can produce chiken meat and eggs very easily and cheaply, with little damage to the environment, while tofu, tamari, carob and chickpeas are competing for the most air miles and gallons of carbon as they fly half-way around the world to fulfil vegetarian diets.

    I hope when all of you stick your noses up as you walk by the poultry or fish isle, you do the same with these and many other meat-free foods.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would love it if the world ceased farming mammals tomorrow, as well as being far more sentient than chicekns and fish, the productuion of beef, pork and lamb are also straining the planets resources, most of that Soya produced in those chopped down forrests goes into feeding them.

    However my point is that it is not black and white, meat is not evil and grains are not holy. Such a line of thought is purely ideological and therefore glaringly close to being called religion.

  28. As I work in a Family and Minors Court and I´ve witnessed special measures taken by the father of a child and then by the court upon mothers with special philosophical conceptions about their child´s diet or higiene, such as not including meat and not giving bath (a bio- engineer mother actually), and to be sincere, I think you should not force such special diet on a child, more importantly because of health reasons, not to mention philosophical ones. You can, of course, choose from special animal welfare farms products and reduce the consume of meat, and raise counsciousness about environmental and moral issues on the child-latter on-, but, should you “force” it from such an early age?

    My 21 child choosed to avoid meat gradually, not my influence nor choise, but I am helping by learning how to cook differently and making her know that there are animal welfare farm products, even introducing her to the reading of Peter Singer, but I never forced anything upon her.

  29. I was a tough kid to feed. I only liked a few things. If I was given a PBJ everyday I would’ve been happy. My mother tried to get me to eat a variety, but, it didn’t happen until I was on my own. I always had a vitamin and that may have been good since I wasn’t eating different foods. I’d suggest the largest variety of foods you can get a kid to eat. You should add foods you approve of 100% of the time (obviously). Maybe show them some info on how the meats actually make it to market (you may choose to scare the crap out of them if you are a hardcore veg…). I’m sure you’re going to give them some info on the differences between locally grown fruits and vegetables and mass produced. I talk to my plants. I think they are just as alive as animals. I’m glad they don’t scream and cry when we pull off their parts or rip them out of the ground. I also think that ginger tastes gross. Good luck! Great Topic!

  30. My only concern is whether your child is getting all necessary nutrients. I believe there have been cases where young children on an EXCLUSIVELY veggie diet have been harmed by the diet; however I seem to recall these were much younger than your son. Other than making sure there are no harmful side effects, which I rather suspect you may have already done, I see no problem.

  31. Yes.

    Humans are omnivores, not vegetarians. Unless you are being VERY careful to balance your, and your child’s diet, you are likely missing at least a few essential nutrients, proteins in particular. I’ve nothing against adults being vegetarians, but a growing child’s normal development really does need a good diet.

    This is an anecdote, not evidence, but of the handful of people I know who tried being a vegetarian they all gave up after a year or two due to health problems, mainly feeling listless all the time.

  32. canadian_right: “”. While many rich people eat too much meat, some meat is very healthy thing to eat”

    You’re right, except about it being rich people, unless you’re living in the 18th century.
    Today meat is mass produced and even the poorest people can grab an Big Mac whenever they feel like it. Which of course is an example of unhealthy meat.

    Many rich people like to follow fad diets, eating things such as Quinoa mentioned above.

    The middle of the range is usually the healthiest, free range chicken and eggs, oily fish, pulses and wholegrains, and plenty of fruit and veg.

  33. Before the day I was even born my mother had a predetermined mindset to not have me baptized. In all honesty, I thank her for that. I had the free choice to decide whether I wanted to have a faith based system or not; she never cast ridicule on me for religious choices I have made. Through my youth and into my mid twenties I dabbled in my different faiths and never found solace in any of them. I even tried Hinduism and became a vegan for some time, but, there are just too many contradictions and circular logic within all of faith, that I gave up on all of them; be as it may, that can be a discussion of it’s own. I think eating meat is a natural thing, nature has shown us this; one of my reasons for leaving the Hindu faith, along with the stories of flying ships battling in the sky and Gods hurling nuclear weapons at one another.

    I am now an Atheist and feel a sense of release! I do not live with many of the fears instilled in me by Dogmatic belief systems and faiths, they have been removed. However, my moral guideline would most definitely be a secular based structure; if I may call it that?

    As for choosing what a child eats? I personally think there is a fine line people cross in this area of parenthood. Lets us say your child wasn’t receiving adequate nutrition, I am sure you would step in and help to eliminate the issue in a manner that is necessary. I can see how people may look at your choice to raise your child as a vegetarian similar to choosing their religion. I myself actually have a friend that is raising his two children as vegetarians, and I often debate with him about this very issue. His children are underweight…

    He chose to become vegetarian because meats do not sit well with him. His stomach does not digest any type of meat well at all. He became enamored with the lifestyle associated with his vegetarianism and decided it would be a good health decision for his children. I do not agree with that. If it was for health reasons such as: digestive issues, then do what need be done.

    I will leave with this example:
    This friend I speak of is now having trouble with his daughter in school. She wonders why the other kids eat what they want and begs for it. The children make fun of her when she is forced to eat what is brought from home. She comes home crying because of the abuse the kids throw at her. Children are cruel about so many things, I am not surprised that something like food preference could be a stomping ground.

    I would rather at least let my child see if he/she likes meats and things of that nature. There are places where free choice for children are important. Food should be one of them; granted, they are not just eating cake and cookies all day. Set them on a path where they can make important decisions for themselves. Nutrition is most definitely one of them.

  34. Yes you are forcing your beliefs upon him as some parents force religion. Red meat in particular has widespread scientific backing as an evolutionarily acquired dietary necessity of our species, or at least one which got us this far.

    Vegetarianism is too much of a shock for some genetic lines (those whose ancestors relied upon meaty diets for 50,000 years or more) and can lead to severe nutritional deficiencies when abandoned. Several fatty acids and omegas are not able to be counterfeited. take great care separating empathy for other species, and requirements of your own offspring.

  35. Let’s just get this straight so that we are all clear on how strongly I feel about this. If a child of mine required human blood to thrive and flourish I would go out and get it for them.

    • In reply to #43 by Peter Grant:

      Let’s just get this straight so that we are all clear on how strongly I feel about this. If a child of mine required human blood to thrive and flourish I would go out and get it for them.

      Comment edited

      When I was a teen, for a month I asked my mother to do always the same breakfast and lunch for me (it was a difficult time for me and psychologically it was important that my mother accepted it unreservedly), and she did it and never complained, and that made difficult times perhaps easier for me. For some other period I almost didn´t eat anything, and my mother was really upset.

      While adult, for a period of time-months or a year I think- I have had always the same for lunch, but had health problems related to it almost for sure. Variety must be a necessity I suppose.

      (For some other period I decided only to eat bananas and chocolates, but my sister was not like my mother and not so unreservedly like my mother, and told it to someone she knew that wanted to become therapist and some help was given to me).

      • In reply to #53 by maria melo:

        Sounds like you were mildly obsessive compulsive as a child, perhaps even a bit autistic? In such cases I would suggest vitamin and mineral supplements as well as protein shakes to make up for such a restricted diet

        The imagery used in my comment may have been the result of watching too many vampire movies of late, but let’s just pretend that my hypothetical child is a haemophiliac and requires regular blood transfusions.

        • In reply to #55 by Peter Grant:

          In reply to #53 by maria melo:

          Sounds like you were mildly obsessive compulsive as a child, perhaps even a bit autistic? In such cases I would suggest vitamin and mineral supplements as well as protein shakes to make up for such a restricted diet

          I knew it would sound like autistic, but that´s not the case (well autistic people are just people anyway).

          Young people and children can become regressive or face language problems when there is psychological suffering, that was the case, bananas and chocolate on a 17 years old was clearly regressive.
          Children can become regressive with reasons such as parents divorce, that´s enough.
          (I have a sister who has two children with autistic disorders however). The period in which I ate the same lunch for almost 1 year has been the most stressful period of my life, there´s no wonder that food can become more than “food”.

          Girls have much more food disorders, there must be few girls that I know that don´t have/had “food obsessions”.

  36. Parenting is the same as the scientific method for me. Evidence based, peer reviewed and a huge willingness to change your mind/theory when the evidence changes.
    I think where people get confused with this issue is;

    1. The worst possible accusation you can throw at an Atheist is that they are unconsciously behaving exactly like the theists, especially in relation to their children. This is simply overturned- The atheist will countenance no make-believe.
    2. The atheist is not actively trying to make decisions, change or raise other people’s children.

    Good luck! :-)

  37. It depends on why and how you are a vegetarian. I have a feeling that I will be eaten by flora and fauna when I’m dead, so I take as part of my belonging to nature to eat flora and fauna. I don’t consider humankind as a supernatural species. That being said, supermarket meat is utter crap and intensive farming is a tragedy, so I don’t buy meat. My children will be raised with the food I buy, like some children never eat rice or bananas because their parents don’t buy nor like that food. But if my kids are invited somewhere, or at school, I will beg them not to ask for a special dish for them. Eating three bits of beacon on a pizza every now and then never killed anybody. Health is not purity.

  38. In every animal, the shape of the teeth tells you what is best for that particular being. For a cat or a dog, meat is the correct choice. For a cow, grass is the only option. For a rabbit roots and grass or anything with cellulose is OK. In our case, a balanced, rich diet composed by all kind of grains, fruits, vegetables, several portions of different meat and oils are optimal. The first years are critical, you cannot give him that extra bit of proteins later; it will be too late. His body is trying to grow while being damaged by key components starvation right now. Seriously. And it’s all your fault. Give him some fish, some chicken and some cheese. ABOUT NOW. GO!

  39. Feeding your children is not the same as forcing beliefs on them. So long as they’re healthy and you don’t steer them towards your own beliefs about food, and so long as you encourage them to think about it for themselves, then I shouldn’t worry about it. Better still, ask a doctor about dietary requirements. When I did, my GP told me that the notion vegetarian diets are unhealthy is simply a myth, so long as it’s balanced and varied (which is true of non-vegetarian diets as well).

    In reply to #33 by Seraphor:

    It’s also worth noting that meat isn’t the only food who’s production causes massive amounts of damage to our environment and economies around the world.

    I am kind of glad you posted this. I was worried for a moment, and decided to check the background behind Quorn, my main source of protein. Fortunately, it’s produced in the same country I live in, and a cursory glance at the FDA report I found suggests it’s mostly harmless, though it can be allergic to some people.

    • In reply to #52 by Zeuglodon:

      When I did, my GP told me that the notion vegetarian diets are unhealthy is simply a myth, so long as it’s balanced and varied (which is true of non-vegetarian diets as well).

      My GP is a young earth creationist who thinks global warming is a hoax. He’s useful for getting scripts for stuff I like, but I wouldn’t go to him for advice.

        • In reply to #59 by Zeuglodon:

          Sorry. I didn’t realize GPs are, uh… “different” in the US.

          I doubt it. Quite a few of them are homoeopaths too.

          Impoverished-Vegan myth is still a myth, just so we’re clear.

          I’ve dated a few. Though admittedly quite wealthy they weren’t very healthy.

  40. You should not impose any ‘-ism’ on your children.
    Nutrition needs are unique to individual’s lifestyle.
    Giving a mixture of everything is the only right way.
    Weaker body will bring poison to his mind.
    All vegans are not bruce-lees.
    Look at India, the biggest third world & mostly hereditary vegans.
    big losers and health crisis capital of the world.

    • In reply to #54 by MrDeist:

      You should not impose any ‘-ism’ on your children.
      Nutrition needs are unique to individual’s lifestyle.
      Giving a mixture of everything is the only right way.
      Weaker body will bring poison to his mind.
      All vegans are not bruce-lees.
      Look at India, the biggest third world & mostly hereditary vegans….

      Majority of the Indians are non-vegetarians, only around 25% of the population would be vegetarians. There might be health issues with the vegetarians but the majority of the health crisis in the country is due to poverty and unaffordability of healthy meal. Meat in India is costlier than veggies and sadly not all can afford that in their daily meal, .

  41. In reply to #57 by maria melo:

    I knew it would look like autist, but that´s not the case (well autist people are just people).

    I quite like them. The way I affect people is a bit unnerving at times, it’s rather nice to be ignored.

    Girls have much more food disorders, there must be few girls that I know that don´t have/had “food obsessions”.

    Interesting, wonder if this is cultural or genetic.

  42. Hello fellow vegetarian

    I am a vegetarian through choice. I do not believe in the killing of any animal for my dinner table. As I am not a parent I can only say that you talk to your son about his diet. Let him know your point of view. When his mates all eat meat then explain you are not going to pay out money for a butcher to produce meat for you. When he is older he can choose for himself. Simple isn’t it !

  43. The food issue aside – there is no similarity to raising him as a racist unless you consider the racist aspects of Christianity or any religion.

    Racism is an action against another, or other, compared to someone from within your group, or in-group. Food selection doesn’t even compare.

    This “miss-correctly associating one concept with another” is something I often see in belief based discussions.

    The root of this particular one has to do with attributing human actions with animal ones. To put it simplistically, yes, a dog can look mournful but he isn’t mourning the way a human is, the human is just projecting their own feelings onto the animal’s actions.

    Racism and your choice of food source has nothing to do with each other.

    If anything we can start a discussion on why you believe plants don’t have the same feelings that animals do, allowing you to eat plants instead of animals, or, why you believe that animals have the same feelings that humans do, dictating that you do not eat animals. This isn’t a moral discussion it is strictly a belief one. A vegetarian has a belief that it is immoral or cruel to eat animals but that isn’t something animals understand or believe as they eat each other all the time, and sadistically ferociously as well. Even plants eat each other: certain vines sap the life out of other plants and weeds compete for the nutrients of other plants.

  44. Here’s an interesting note from that I just read in Leonard Shlain’s Sex, Time and Power:

    “The ten essential and semi-essential amino acids humans require only rarely can be found in any single plant food. In contrast everyone is present in meat, fish and fowl. Ironically, the most perfect protein food is the much-maligned egg. “A Vegan diet is too poor in required nutrients to sustain childhood growth needs. (Rodwell-Wilton, 1985)” -

  45. Well, then meat eaters could be said to be forcing meat consumption on their children. In most households I’m sure the children are expected to eat each of the three meals served per day. I know my parents did not ask me what I wanted to eat. I even had to eat the liver — ugh!

  46. Barbara Necker74In reply to #29 by Seraphor:

    Can’t help but notice the ideological and political connotations in some of these comments, such asthe use of the word ‘carnist’ to describe everyone who isn’t vegetarian. It’s very absolutist and promotes otherisation of those who eat meat, portraying them as some sort of ‘worshippers of meat’ with…

    I dunno, if any group of people suffers the slings of “otherization,” it’s vegetarians, I’ve found. We are often accused of being dietary snobs even if we go about our vegetarianism quietly & totally mind our own business.

    Firstly, sorry about the state of this post, the reply function doesn’t seem to work for me.
    In reply to your post, You can ony speak for yourself, as can I. I keep to my own business, I don’t view vegetarians as food snobs unless they express some form of snobbery. I don’t pertake in any ‘otherisation’ of vegetarians.
    Many vegetarians, as made apparent by the posts on this forum, do just that.
    “They do it so why can’t we?” isn’t an excuse.

    As I’ve previously meantioned, the biggest destructive form of farming may well be the intensive farming of cattle, requiring vast amounts of water and corn feed to sustain the industry. Second to that however is the intensive farming of vegetarian ‘trend’ foods, soya beans, quinoa, asparagus in south america, and vast imports of chickpeas and lentils from asia.
    The least damaging and most sustainable, and healthiest form of farming is and always will be, locally grown vegetables and locally raised free range chicken and eggs. Not a purely vegetarian diet.

  47. First it is about the health of the child, especially a female child, who will especially need strong bones and who is going (unless something is greatly wrong) to have menstruations. Since there are iron pills and fish oil pills, meat and fish is not a must. However, unless you and your husband come from pastoralists, milk can turn out to be a problem. In addition very many people have allergies to cow milk (and also to sheep and goat milk), fish allergies are also very common where as meat is in generally tolerated much better.
    Concerned with problem of cruelty? And what about plants? After all pain is nothing but result of particular molecules bindig to particular receptors. Plants have both of them.
    So I would rather consider teaching that we must honour our bodies and awoid overeating, no matter the origins of foods. And of course one must stay avay from liqueurs, no matter how vegetarian they are.

  48. And as to the time for indoctrination: first do not mix wrong (according to you) diet with xenofobia that is wrong according to all normal human beings (one at least should not cherish one’s phobias). Thenk think, what he will gain from your preachings and whether they are so important that cannot be postponed. Otr you ar just dreaming for aromathic and juicy beefstake or whatever…..

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