Yes, My Children Are Vegetarian Too. Problem?

I have been a vegetarian since I was nine years old and for me, being vegetarian is part of who I am, part of my soul and part of my every day life. I do not eat meat for many different reasons, but the main reason is that I do not believe animals should be for human consumption.

Aside from the environment issues including disgusting huge amount of water and energy wasted each year in the production and retail of meat, the very cruel ways in which as a nation we torture animals before and during their death makes my stomach turn and my blood boil.

Since I have had two children I have been subject to regular and almost prolific questioning, argumentative behaviour and sometimes abusive interrogation over my choice to raise my children as vegetarian, and that’s exactly what I see it as, my choice.

I’ve always known I’d bring my children up as vegetarian. For me, it’s an ethical and education decision. Surely if I fully stand by what I believe that I would incorporate it into every single aspect of my life? Surely I would be a hypocrite to raise meat eaters, to spend money on meat, to encourage and support a cause that actually personally, I am 100% against!

The way I see it is as parents, we all make choices for our children. Choices we feel are ‘best’ for them and will hopefully guide them into their adult life. The health and safety of our children is paramount, but I also want my children to be happy. I want them to be well informed and I want them to understand where meat comes from, how a vegetable grows and most importantly, how to eat and live a healthy lifestyle.

As a person, I am very aware of what nutrients, minerals and goodness my meals consist of. I take care to decide and plan what meals we will eat, and why. I ensure we all eat plenty of protein, iron and vitamins. My children WILL grow as strong and as their meat eating peers and they will not suffer any ‘nutritional deficiencies’ just because they are vegetarian. All these comments and opinions, they irritate me due to the fact that they are largely based on ignorance.

I try to encourage discussion with Gabriel (3) about what’s in his food and how it will help him grow or which part of his system it will support and provide for. I know what is ‘in’ the foods that I cook for my children and I also know that they are healthy and educated about food.

I promote vegetarianism not just because of the moral and ethical reasoning, but also because of the health benefits too. Vegetarian diets are low in saturated fats, high in fibre and low in cholesterol, this meaning much less chance of developing heart disease, high blood pressure or type 11 diabetes. My children will be much less likely to develop food allergies and most importantly, they will not be subjected to chemical hormones and pesticides passed through the meats, often given to animals before they are killed that are ‘destined for the plate’.

If my children want to eat meat when they are older, I will allow them. Of course I will. I believe in choice, and although I admit I would be disappointed, I would never attempt to make them feel guilty or stop them eating it. The last thing I want is my teenager hiding their McDonalds addiction from me. But, as a parent at least I will be confident that they made their decision on an informed basis. Rather than just eating meat because they ‘always just have’.

If I’m honest, the questioning upsets me and often makes me cross. ‘Is it healthy? ‘ ‘That’s cruel!’ ‘They need meat to grow’ You name it. I’ve heard it all. I just don’t understand why people think they can be so rude and judge about individual choice.

I chose to be vegetarian, and I also chose to raise my children, as vegetarian. It doesn’t (or very rarely) affect anyone else, it doesn’t mean they are fussy eaters and it certainly does not mean we are ‘odd’. I have friends who have chosen what football or rugby team their child will support before they’ve even been born, we as parents chose our children’s religion (or not) and we make early decisions about their education. How is being vegetarian any different?

It isn’t.

So please, think before you judge, respect choice and most importantly remember that vegetarians have feelings too.

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Comments

  1. says

    What a great post!! This was a frequent topic of discussion between me and a previous boyfriend as he is vegetarian. I was completely ignorant and asked those annoying questions that you mentioned above. In fact I’d say it was part of a make or break decision knowing that one of us would raise children as vegetarian and the other wouldn’t, he insisted he would and I was the opposite. I thought that they would be missing out on something by being vegetarian, they wouldn’t get all of the nutrients etc they needed. These days I am more informed, I’m not a vegetarian but I have great respect for the people who are and who chose to raise their family in this way and know that they are leading a healthy lifestyle.

    • Michelle Crowther says

      Ah interesting! It is hard to decide and emphasise when you don’t have ‘that passion’ I get that with football… But, suppose it’s about trying to respect each other isn’t it! Thank you for your comment! x

  2. says

    Great post! I think if you have made a life choice that you’re so passionate about, it would be hard not to bring your kids up in the same way, until they are old enough to make the choices for themselves. That’s what being a parent is about.
    I’m sorry you have been made to feel bad about your choices xx

    • Michelle Crowther says

      Thanks Lucy. Yes, it’s so odd that people assume veggie = missing out or awkward! Thanks for commenting x

  3. says

    I get this all the time as Nancy is being brought up as vegetarian as my partner is veggie (he was brought up as a veggie) and we all eat vegetarian at home. I do not eat meat much at all now and to be honest I’m going off it more and more (but I do love a bacon bap). We eat loads of protein and iron rich foods such as lentils, eggs, beans hunmous, and pulses and I enjoy thinking of different things to try. I don’t feel she misses out at all. She loves fruit and veg and she is smack bang in the middle of her centile. I was initially worried about how I’d cope but it’s been so easy and I am glad I respected my partners wishes. She can choose to eat meat when she’s older if she wants to and that’s fine for me x

  4. says

    This comes back to the old thing of other people/parents judging and being far too concerned with other people’s business. How we feed our children seems to be something that is for public comment and discussion from the moment they are born. From judgements on the old boob/bottle debate to situations such as yours. In general people should mind their own business and only be concerned if a child is not being fed or dragged up on an entire junk food diet. Here’s to happy, healthy kids however anyone chooses to feed them!

    • Michelle Crowther says

      Yes you’re right. People need to take more on. They clearly have too much time to dwell on what I’m doing and how I’m feeding my children! ;) thanks for your comment lovely x

  5. says

    Michelle,

    Great post. There’s so much abuse around when it comes to vegetarians. I always have to justify my choice and reassure people that it won’t be a problem for them – I can eat the one and only veggie option on the menu when we go to the pub. No, it won’t affect THEIR lives. It’s just crazy.

    When it comes to children, as you say, people even decide what religion they will follow, what they will wear, what people they will interact with, etc. so how is this ethical decision different? I wish people could respect vegetarians as vegetarians respect other people.

    The sad thing is that I can totally imagine a lot of people saying those horrible things (‘it’s cruel’, ‘it’s selfish’, …). Unfortunately, we’re still a minority and as such, we are discriminated against. I think it’ll take a long time not be bullied anymore…

    You’re doing great, keep it on and stick to your choices :)

    Elena

    • Michelle Crowther says

      Thank you so much! You’re completely right. I’m so used to having that ‘only choice’ it’s a way of life! Haha :)
      Thanks for your lovely comment x

  6. says

    This is SUCH a great post and raises an overall opinion from me about parenting in general – as a non-parent (not by choice) I sit from afar endlessly bemused by just how much criticism and judgment there seems to be amongst parents about the choices each make for their children. Surely it should be more about respecting and supporting everyone’s right to choose?

    I digress – I became veggie in my early 20s. Similarly to you it was borne out of a love of animals. I have recently returned to eating chicken as my diet is severely lacking in protein to the extent that it was a health risk but I could never go back to eating red meat after all these years. I haven’t really thought about how I would raise children as it’s probably a moot point but I totally respect your thoughts on why you follow vegetarianism with them. They can always change later in life if they want to, it’s not a crime! The funniest comment I once got when I first became veggie was from someone who said “but what on earth are you feeding your cat?!?!” and I replied “cat food”. They seemed dead certain that because I was veggie my cat was now destined for a life of kale and chickpeas :) x

    • Michelle Crowther says

      Interesting, thank you so much! I’ve never had a pet, but would love a tortoise because I love that they are veggie!!!!!! Thanks for commenting. You’re right. It is about choice! :)

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