Childish innocence I ... That yummy sausage means a cow died.

How do other parents deal when your kid asks: Mommy, did a cow really have to die to get me this hamburger ?

In our animal-loving home, we eat small amounts of meat about three days a week. We eat vegetarian dishes, or vegetarian meat, the other four days. The little meat we eat is always free-range or organic. That’s my compromise between ethics, health and taste.

Our seven-year old kid has the same attitude towards meat most adults have; when asked, he feels sorry for the farm animal, but he loves the taste of meat. Some kids of vegetarian meathe likes; others, not. He’s a picky eater anyway, and I’m glad when he likes anything healthy to eat, even if it is meat or fish.

I don’t want to spoil his innocence and pleasure in eating, but I don’t want to lie to him where his meat comes from, either. And I do think he should know. What I don’t know, is what is age appropriate to tell him at this age.

How do other parents deal with this?

I’m only interested in parents who feel similarly on this subject as I do. If you love cooking meat, or even hunt your own, more power to you, but please skip this thread.

If your kids are strict vegetarians, and you are, or are not, then I would like to know how that came about.

**Please keep general discussions on the ethics/health aspects of (not) eating meat out of this thread. This thread is only about the parenting aspects of it. **

Our kid had no problems with it. He was used to nature young, and readily observed that animals often prey on each other - fact that he’s more or less on top of the food chain was more of a comfort to him than a concern. :wink:

I don’t have kids.

That said, as an animal-loving child, I knew exactly where meat came from. My dad hunted and fished. My grandmother kept chickens. These things simply were, so it didn’t freak me out.

Be honest. Misleading your kids is worse than upsetting them.

Challenging them to think about the impact of consumption choices is all to the good.

Of course, as with all subjects, terms they understand.

My explanation: “That cow was going to die regardless if you eat hamburgers or not”

To an older child I might go on to explain humans (in part) owe their prosperity to the consumption of animals. Not sure if the human race could have survived on vegetables alone.

I became a vegetarian (temporarily) when my kids were younger than ten. I told them where meat came from and that we weren’t going to eat it anymore because the animals were treated terribly.

They wanted to eat it anyhow.

None of the poll answers fit. Living in a rural area, I and my kids are aware that animals are eaten as food, whether raised on farms or harvested by hunters. My kids have eaten venison, beef and chicken from early ages, and saw deer processed at my brother’s house since they were toddlers. They never had questions about where meat comes from. When you drive down the road and see hundreds of cattle on farms, or see deer brought home and processed, there is no need to ask if an animal had to die.

I don’t really want to belittle anyone, but eating meat is a simple fact of life for 99 percent of people, and raising and slaughtering farm animals or hunting wild animals for food is the accepted norm, not something that is shameful or distasteful (pardon the pun). Haven’t you ever taken your son out for a drive and seen cattle along the road?

And, yes, I understand there are various ways to husband, raise and slaughter animals, and some are more humane. But that black angus is going to be killed and eaten no matter what.

I think I may have casually mentioned it to my son when he was a preschooler. Must not have taken it to be a big deal because he never really commented on it.

Either I’m misreading, or you’re missing the option for, “I told them at a young age and didn’t try to soften the blow.” It’s not like I went into graphic detail about factory farms or slaughterhouses or anything, but I told my kids as soon as they could speak where meat came from. My older daughter went vegetarian for a few months when she was six, but the smell of bacon eventually knocked her off the wagon.

I think vegetarianism is a legitimate, honorable choice, and I’m happy to support my kids if they want to be vegetarian. I see no reason to deny where meat comes from.

I am confused. The first implies he does know; the second implies he doesn’t–that you don’t want to “spoil” his pleasure by “telling” him. Do you mean tell him the gruesome details?

You might explain why you buy free-range/organic when it naturally comes up–like at the grocery store, when you pass over one in favor of the other.

I was just upfront about that. We drove by a local man who slaughters and butchers livestock and he had a bunch of cows in his pasture and then the next day they were gone. My daughter, was was about six at the time, asked where they were and I just said, oh those cows were there to become meat. She asked a few clarifying questions like what kind of meat and I just answered and she was fine with it. I think a lot of it is, at that age, they don’t have a clear idea of what death is and what it really means. So it’s easier for them to accept just the fact that cows, pigs, etc just become meat.

Best that kids learn to deal with reality.

Tell them the facts - the truth!

He knows, but I have told him without details. Like most kids, he knows, he cares for animals, he thinks vegetarianism is a good thing. But he also likes the taste of meat. And he sees no disconnect between the two.

For instance, I served vegetarian bratwurst and told him how cool it was that no cow had died for that one. He ate it, but didn’t really care for it. At the next meal, he eyed his real bratwurst suspiciously and asked if this was vegetarian. When I told him that this one wasn’t, he dug in with gusto.

Angelsoft, my kid had a really hard time dealing with death. Harder then I do, actually. He understands it fully, but maybe he doesn’t understand that a cow DIES-dies when slaughtered.

At what age? in what detail?

It never came up. I have no doubt my daughter knew about it by grade school, but never said anything one way or another.

I explain evolution & natural selection to them, then point out that for past few thousand years, the most successful animals are those who are tasty and easy to farm. So by eating meat, they’re helping various species to thrive.

I can’t even remember how, when or if it came up. I’m sure it must have, but maybe it didn’t and he just figured it out. I am not one to soften the blow when it comes to stuff like this, so if it did come up, he was told where meat comes from.

I don’t think it’s something you need to bring up, but if he asks, he needs to be told the truth.

He knows what he’s ready to know, then. I think you’re upset that he isn’t having the moderated, nuance emotional reaction you are having, but he may well not be ready to do that. You’re disappointed (or something) that he’s not more upset about animals dying to make food, but you probably don’t want him to be more upset than you yourself are, either: you would be concerned if he broke into tears every time he passed a meat section, or couldn’t eat in restaurants where other people were eating meat, or lectured his friends.

Don’t lie to him, and talk to him like you’d talk to anyone–if there’s a documentary on about animal cruelty, you can take that opportunity to discuss why your have your position, but don’t make the goal of the conversation to move his concern level to where you think it should be.

My kids watched Food, Inc. around age 10, if that gives a benchmark. (My feeling is that from ethical, environmental, nutritional, and culinary standpoints, strict abstention from animal products is less meaningful than very conscious, informed choices about types and sources of food.)

My kids were cool with it from the start. My daughter in particular always wanted to know what animal a meal came from, and what part of that animal.

We had a neighbor who raised two pigs every year for the freezer and we would visit the new piglets so the kids could cuddle them. I told my kids that the pigs only had one bad day in their entire lives.

ETA: I remember my daughter asking about poultry white vs dark meat. I reviewed the physiology and we had an interesting discussion.