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What If Your Kids Don’t Want to Eat Meat?

eatmeat-585I remember having a moment when I went to a state fair when I was roughly in my early teens. I loved seeing all of the animals — the adorable baby chicks and cows and racing pigs — and then it hit me that we eat them. Of course, I had known for years that meat came from animals, but there was something about seeing them in all of their fluffy and smelly glory rather than neatly packaged at the grocery store that had me reconsidering my meat-eating ways. The adorable baby pigs had me soon declaring myself a vegetarian.

It didn’t last long. I made it maybe two days before my mom was serving steaks for dinner, and I didn’t really have another option. But many kids have that “meat comes from animals” moment, and it’s a guarantee that some of them are going to really mean it — and really not want to continue eating meat. The kiddo in this video makes the realization that eating animals means killing animals, and it’s quite touching.

Can’t see the video? Click here to see this kiddo have a meat-eating epiphany.

In our household, we don’t eat meat every night. We have meatless pasta nights or meals with tofu or a vegetarian soup. A lot of times I don’t even notice when a meal is vegetarian — it’s only when my husband says something or goes digging around the kitchen for additional protein that I even notice. So if one of my kids decided that they couldn’t or wouldn’t eat meat out of principle, I’d certainly try to accommodate. I’ve never been a mom to enforce clean-plate rules or to make my kids try something against their will. Sure, I encourage trying a bite of everything, but there have been plenty of meals when I’ve served something new and the new never gets touched. I subscribe to the philosophy that the parent decides “what” and “when” and the kid decides “if” and “how much.” It can be hard to give up that bit of control, but in the long term I think it helps kids monitor their eating and learn how to make choices for themselves.

For now, I’m glad I don’t have dietary restrictions to abide within my family — we’ve been lucky that allergies haven’t hit anyone and that no one has decided to give up meat — but if that happens, I’ll  just have to get a little more into meal planning!

Have your kids ever decided to go veg? How did you accommodate them? —Erin

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