If You’re a Vegetarian Should You Raise Your Kids Vegetarian As Well?

Obviously this is a very controversial topic. Deciding to become a vegetarian is a very personal and individualized choice, and one that is not made lightly.

So it should come as no surprise that the decision to raise your kids as vegetarians or not is also a highly personal decision.

There are a slew of reasons people decide to forgo meat in their diets, ranging from ethical beliefs to dietary reasons to environmental motives, and then there’s the issue of being a full-fledged vegan, a vegetarian, a pescatarian… the options are endless really. One point that is met with some ambiguity, however, is whether or not to raise your children vegetarian as well. This can be especially difficult if your spouse or significant other doesn’t follow a vegetarian diet and also is contingent on how strict you intend on being.child taking cake off the table experimenting with food

Some different scenarios to that question:

Raise your child as a full-fledged vegetarian

To some the only option is to fully immerse their children in a vegetarian lifestyle. The option of meat is out of the question and parents will go to great lengths to ensure that their children maintain a vegetarian diet and that they have as little exposure as possible to meat-based foods. This can be exceptionally tricky once children reach the school age because meat and meat-based products are such a prominent part of school lunches, snacks, etc.

Raise your child on vegetarian meals in the home but allow them to choose outside of it

A more lax approach to your child’s vegetarianism is to only prepare vegetarian options at home but allow the child to choose if they want to eat meat or not outside of the home – for example: at restaurants (not just a vegetarian restaurant), when they buy school lunches, when visiting friend’s houses, etc. The end goal being that the child is allowed to experiment with both lifestyles and then choose for themselves either to follow a vegetarian lifestyle or not.

Raise your child as an omnivore

Yet another option is to raise the child eating meat and then let them choose from there if they want to embrace a vegetarian lifestyle or if they are more compelled to maintain a vegetarian one like the parent(s) do. This is a more likely occurrence in homes where one of the spouses does not follow a vegetarian lifestyle.

There is no right or wrong approach to raising a child on a vegetarian diet or not, as each instance is completely different than the next.

Some children grow up not ever wanting to even try meat after being raised vegetarian, where others experiment with both lifestyles and then choose from there the diet that they feel best represents their own beliefs and ethics. However, this is a subject that has caused great debates amongst vegetarians and omnivores alike, with many people believing that it is outrageous to raise your child as a vegetarian. But if you really think about it, we raise our children to do many of the same things we like to do – whether it’s working out, playing sports, being in the band, whatever – so it doesn’t seem so far out of the question to raise our children with the same dietary beliefs as well, especially if we let them experiment and make their own decisions along the way.

 

Jenny Ellis is a freelance writer, and a regular contributor for aupair jobs. She welcomes your comments at: ellisjenny728 @ gmail.com.

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

If you don't have integrity, you have nothing. You can't buy it. You can have all the money in the world, but if you are not a moral and ethical person, you really have nothing.
Henry Kravis

Comments

  1. It is very hard and challenging for moms to feed their children vegetables. But it is doesn’t mean that you will already give up. There are many easy and quick recipes on how to cook vegetables that children will love too.

  2. So my daughter is in first grade and her teacher called in AEA because she isn’t eating her school lunch. She says the meat smells. We are not vegetarians, but can she do this? What if she was a vegetarian?

    • Hi Jenn
      Some kids may start making their own choices on what food they want to eat ( although sometimes they are simply opting for preferred junk food instead of something healthy). I know that my own sister was very young when she saw a film about animals being slaughtered and she made her own choice never to eat meat again even though the rest of the family was NOT vegetarian. I believe her teacher rang Mum to say she was refusing school meals and they did all put lots of pressure on her which I think is is very wrong especially from a teachers/school perspective.
      Schools should provide healthy balanced meals with complete choice menus and let the kids choose themselves.

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