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.
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.