I think some of my family members are really freaked out that I would tell their kids the truth about what they’re eating. Probably some of my friends, too. I understand why parents who eat meat feel this way. They don’t want their kids to know the truth. It’s really not hard to understand why they would want to shield their kids from the knowledge that they’re eating the body of a dead animal.
Plenty of meat-eating adults have some amount of compunction about eating meat. They might not admit it to anyone, especially not a veg*an, but I know it’s true because some of them have told me (some people are honest, after all). Also, I used to be an omnivore, and I know that I had little lies that I told myself to feel okay about it all. Many omnivores cling to the idea that you basically HAVE to eat meat. When you present them with evidence and arguments to the contrary, they usually find ways to ignore it, because it’s an important idea for them to cling to. The idea allows them to think of it as a “necessary evil” akin to paying taxes (that fund plenty of things that people disagree with). They know they’re complicit in bad things, but they convince themselves that they really don’t have a viable alternative. I think a lot of them have some amount of awareness that these rationalizations are tenuous. I did.
So, since they know that it takes a delicate blend of rationalizing and self-imposed ignorance to think the way they do, and they know that kids aren’t as skilled at excusing their own poor behavior, they really feel that they’re doing the right thing by protecting their children from the truth. Most kids feel bad when they do something that they think is wrong. So parents really just feel like they’re shielding their children from bad feelings and guilt. Well, that and they’re really afraid that their kid would actually dare to do something that they haven’t been able to do: change their behavior (instead of their way of thinking) in response to something that they find morally problematic.
I know that not all parents are like this. Some do tell their kids the truth at an early age. But in most cases, they probably tell them after he or she has already been eating meat for quite some time.
I had my own experience with this, but I can’t say I remember much of it clearly. One memory that sticks out is when my younger brother (let’s call him Gordie) asked what the red stuff was in and around his steak. My dad said “that’s just the juice, Gordie.” Someone knew the truth (probably me or my older brother, let’s call him Raekwon) and let it out: “It’s blood!” Gordie did not like that answer at all and he did not want to eat it, which pissed my dad off, of course. I don’t remember if he ended up eating it that day or not, but I do remember that there were multiple times after that day my dad had to angrily re-grill a steak until it no longer had any “juice” coming out of it. Man, that guy can grit his teeth. My dad was probably like “Goddammit, SpeciesistVegan, how dare you tell my kid the truth!” Anyway… so… part of the reason that parents don’t want their kids to know the truth simply comes down to selfishness and convenience. It’s just easier if your kids eat what you eat.
I’m not trying to demonize parents that don’t want their kids to know the truth. They’ve found ways to justify why eating meat is okay, so why would they want to put thoughts into their kid’s head to make him or her question if it’s okay? I’m not trying to lionize parents that tell their kids the truth, either. Parents lie to kids for a lot of reasons and some parents probably tell their kids too much truth too early. There’s something to be said for childhood innocence. At the very least, I just hope that we can get to a point where parents that are omnivorous can have enough knowledge and perspective to allow their kids to become veg*an if that’s what they want to do.
All I know is that I have no interest in breaking the news to little Johnny that he has a dead animal in his mouth, so you can all chill the fuck out, god, get off my back already!
I guess this is my way of saying that SpeciesistVegan is now going to become a parenting blog.