Kids and Meat

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.

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5 Responses to Kids and Meat

  1. LiseyDuck says:

    Ooh congratulations! (why would having your own child make you more likely to give gory details to someone elses though? Or are they just worried that the new cousin will be taught to torment their kids like you did to your brother? :P)

  2. Uhhhh… I think I need to clarify that I am NOT with child. I was just joking about that. But I can see why you thought that. Ha. No, I just like the absurdity of the idea of turning this blog into a parenting blog.

    But your comment gives me a good idea. If I have a kid, I can send him in to do the dirty work for me! Who can get mad at SpeciesistVegan Jr. for speaking truth to power? This is brilliant.

    • LiseyDuck says:

      Hmm, would your wife go for it though?

      • Huh. Probably not so much if I tried to train him to be a little truth teller. But we would naturally talk to him or her about why we don’t eat meat, and kids will say about anything that they know, so it’s probably not hard to imagine a scenario where the kid would just blurt something out that upsets other kids. But I don’t know. I haven’t actually read very many vegan parenting blogs, so I don’t know how common these things are. If you have suggestions for a few that I might like, that would be cool.

  3. freegas00 says:

    Hi there!
    I can see your point!
    I do not remember that happening in my family, it was not such a ‘great big secret’ the fact that meat comes from animals. I have seen though the reactions of parents when their kids come across some unconventional (and for them inconvenient) idea. Parents in the Western society built a ‘family reality’ according to what in their perspective is ‘normal’. Normality and our perception of the ‘real’ world is molded largely by mass media, e.g. the TV world.
    I think it has to do partly with the alienation of modern society. When I was in Nepal, the children were all coming on me, touching me, playing with me. It never happens in Europe this. In Nepal, the children are playing outside on the streets, meeting strangers no matter how they look like or what they say. In Europe they are afraid, because their parents have taught them to fear all strangers.
    In this mythic ‘normality’ of a decadent society eating meat is absolutely fine, going to the supermarket for your food is normal, knowing what you eat only through the packaging of a product is acceptable. For instance, in NL they conducted a survey in schools and more than half the children answered that milk comes from the factory and they did not know that bacon is meat. Child rearing from that angle can be seen as indoctrination!

holler!

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