Vegetarianism & Motherhood

There are three essential things that you should know before we get started:

1. I am a vegetarian.
2. N is also a vegetarian.
3. Our children are not vegetarians.

Okay? Let’s do this.

So, I’ve been a vegetarian for eight years now. It wasn’t a gradual thing. One night I watched a documentary about chicken farming in Britain (FYI, it’s not great) while eating a Marks & Spencers chicken risotto and the next day I declared myself a vegetarian and haven’t touched meat since. You hate me a little bit right now, don’t you? The thing is, I’m not one of those self-righteous, sanctimonious vegetarians who goes around telling people how evil they are for eating meat. Aside from the fact that that’s an asshole thing to do and I am definitely not an asshole, I get that shit from self-righteous, sanctimonious vegans all the time and it pisses me off. I once had a vegan tell me that O’s asthma (hereditary) and F’s reflux (unfortunate) were my fault for not being vegan when I was pregnant with them and subsequently not raising them vegan. So, no, I don’t do that. And this post is not actually about me anyway; this post is about my children.

I decided when I was pregnant with O that I would not raise him vegetarian. I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t hope one day my kids will choose to be veggies because, to be honest, I really hope that they will. But that’s the point; they should get to choose. And it won’t mean anything to them if they don’t make that choice for themselves. They’re both too young to really understand the fact that their daddy and I don’t eat meat because they’re too young to understand what meat is anyway, but I’m pretty sure they’ll ask at some point and then I’ll have to decide what I’m going to tell them. I’ll be honest with you; I am not looking forward to that day.

O has always been pretty cautious around animals. It’s not that he dislikes them; he’s just not sure whether or not they’re safe. F, on the other hand, is already a great lover of all animals and always wants to make new furry friends. I know that neither of these attitudes is any indication of whether or not they’ll grow up to be vegetarians, but I am trying to raise them to be compassionate towards the creatures with whom we share our planet. I won’t think any less of them if they choose to be omnivorous, and I will never impose my diet on them. I don’t cook a whole lot of meat for them at home because I actually can’t even walk down the meat aisle in Sainsbury’s without gagging. But they eat meat when they’re with their grandparents and when we go out and I can cope with it if it’s already cooked. That makes me sound like a really shite mother, doesn’t it?

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O loves our cats, especially Lazzy

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F is pretty good at making new friends

I think the thing about the whole veggie issue is this: It’s not up to me to tell my children who to be. My job is to help them discover who they are and who they want to be. Yes, I will offer them guidance when it comes to a whole lot of things. But, when it all comes down to it, their diet just isn’t that important to me. Well, no, I don’t mean that quite the way it came out. Of course I care what my kids eat, but I grew up eating meat and I’m not psychologically scarred or physically damaged by it. So I guess when they ask me, I’ll tell them the truth. I’ll tell them where their food comes from, that their meat is from animals. And they’ll probably do what I did for a lot of my life and push that to the back of their minds while they tuck into a hamburger or a bacon sandwich. That’s fine. I’d be pretty fucking hypocritical if I said otherwise, wouldn’t I?

A Mum Track Mind
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
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37 comments

  1. The Crab Apple Life · May 21, 2016

    Great post! I was a vegetarian for some years when I became pregnant with my second and the taste made me gag. I kept it up until I became pregnant with my 3rd and all I wanted was meat. I’m also gluten free due to celiac disease. But, I agree with you with not pushing it on others. I don’t make my family eat the way I do, especially when I have “pregnancy whims.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 22, 2016

      It just wouldn’t seem fair for me to impose my lifestyle choices on my kids. They didn’t decide this; I did! It must be hard for you when it’s an actual condition that you’re contending with though?

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Crab Apple Life · May 23, 2016

        Positive thing, I can’t eat their leftovers… Helps me in he long run 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Motherhood IRL · May 23, 2016

        Haha, I always say that too! Unless they have Quorn nuggets, of course. But they’re pretty good for you anyway!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. @livingwithlayla · May 21, 2016

    Lovely post I was a vegetarian for 7 years before a night out and a cheeseburger sent me to eatl meat again. My best friend became a veggie at 3 years old because she didn’t want to eat a ham sandwich after visiting the pigs at the farm and she has never looked back! Her parents never pressured her either way. #fortheloveofblog

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 22, 2016

      It’s so important that parents don’t put pressure on their kids about their choices. It just makes it harder for them to come to them with much bigger things when they’re older, right?

      Like

  3. beccaweatherall · May 21, 2016

    A great post! I completely agree with you about freedom of choice, and to live and let live. Great article. #fortheloveofBLOG

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 22, 2016

      I just think it’s important that they get to make their own decision about this. After all, it’s not just a diet; it’s a lifestyle choice. And just because I chose it doesn’t mean that they have to too.

      Like

  4. parentalramblings · May 21, 2016

    Enjoyed this thanks very much! I’m with you! 😊 I’m veggie, husband eats meat but not a lot as I don’t cook it a lot (I do the odd bit of chicken and fish for the boys), kids both eat meat at moment but eldest seems a bit freaked out about the whole eating animals thing so we shall see…I agree, I want my kids to choose for themselves as well, also don’t want them to feel different until they choose to be. And I just want them to eat (like most little people they toy with food fussiness regularly!). I’m not a pushy vegetarian either, hate it when people try to start the debate and make me into one – I normally just say it’s because I can’t stand animals so couldn’t even bear to eat one (not true! But shuts them up!) x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 22, 2016

      Isn’t it awful when people try to push their beliefs on you? I’ve had vegans say some awful things to me and what it actually does is push me further and further away from ever making that transition because I don’t want to be lumped in with that crowd!

      Liked by 1 person

      • parentalramblings · May 22, 2016

        Definitely know what you mean, extreme , strong views push me the other way too, as well as that I get super stubborn if I feel bullied into something!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Becky Pink · May 21, 2016

    I am not a veggie but I do try and limit the amount of meat we eat. My girls love meat of all kinds and are never fooled by veggie sausages (though they happily eat Quorn swag bol) If they ever do decide to be vegetarian I will support that as my mum did when I was a teenager. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 22, 2016

      My eldest loves Quorn mince tacos! He’s really funny about eating a lot of foods, but it seems that when we offer him a veggie alternative he will happily tuck in. I think it’s just about what we’ve fed him at home, but I’m determined not to restrict his choices or make him the “awkward” kid at the party!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. min1980 · May 21, 2016

    I’m so glad I read this because I am exactly the same. I have been a vegetarian for 15 years and as a single parent, I don’t have a partner to consider, so the choice about whether my son would be veggie was all mine. I would LOVE for him to decide to be vegetarian, and I hope that he will, but I decided that I would allow him to eat meat as I came to the conclusion that I wanted him to have free choice. The only caveat is that I will not cook it for him, so if we go to restaurants or he has food cooked by someone else, he is able to have meat and fish. I totally respect vegetarians who choose to raise their children as vegetarian-that was something I definitely considered-but the reason I decided not to was because I had a friend at school who was brought up vegetarian, decided she hated it, and was eating meat in secret. I don’t know if I’ve made the right choice, and sometimes I wonder how I’m going to justify my own beliefs to my son given that I allow him to eat meat, but we’ll see. So far he isn’t that keen on meat to be honest, so I guess time will tell. #kcacols

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 22, 2016

      My eldest doesn’t really like meat either. I don’t know why, although I suspect that it might be the texture because he mostly eats vegetarian alternatives at home. I don’t think either of my kids will be asking me to take them to McDonalds for a long time!
      I don’t think there is a right or wrong choice, to be honest. I think it’s just about doing something that feels right to you. As long as we are feeding our children with good, wholesome food then I don’t think it matters whether it’s meat or veggie.

      Like

  7. Tara · May 22, 2016

    Great post. I’ve been veggie since I was 13 (39 now) and I am raising my daughter eating meat. It’s hard because I feel like I’m feeding her things that I personally think are bad for her. Had she not had a range of intolerances, which left her with a very restricted diet, I might have thought seriously about raising her veggie and leaving the choice of whether to eat meat up to her later. It’s been an education learning to cook and prepare meat for her (I was completely clueless). Thank goodness for Google!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 22, 2016

      Yes, I feel like that sometimes too. Like I’m polluting their bodies or something, but it’s silly because I grew up eating meat and I’m fine. I didn’t become a veggie until I was 20 and I wish so much that I could make the transition to full-time vegan!

      Like

  8. My Little Yarn Baby · May 22, 2016

    Good post 😊 I am of a very similar mindset. I have been veggie for 20 years, since I was 12 (after seeing an article about how foxes are killed on a hunt randomly I think) although my husband eats meat and loves eating it. People have asked if my little boy will be veggie, but I don’t want to force that on him, so although I’m not a fan of cooking meat for him I will not have a problem with his dad giving him it or having it when we eat out etc ( he is only just starting to wean so we are a while off this). It’s the same reason I haven’t christened him (as I was) – I think that kids should be able to make the choice themselves X
    #fortheloveofBLOG

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 22, 2016

      Yes! I haven’t christened either of my boys for exactly the same reason. I wasn’t christened and I’ve found my own spiritual way, and I want my children to have the same opportunity. I don’t think it’s fair to impose my lifestyle choices on my children; it’s their life, not mine! X

      Liked by 1 person

  9. justsayingmum · May 22, 2016

    This is brilliant and I’ve never met anyone else like this! I’m a vegetarian but I never even told my children as I wanted them to choose so I always hid it from them – people are amazed that I could do that but it’s easy – children really don’t pay that much attention to meal times apart from what is on their plate! And then at 8 years old my oldest expressed an interest in becoming a vegetarian and has stuck to that ever since – she is now 16. My 14 year old has now recently become a vegan – straight from meat eater to vegan – and inside I am so damn proud because I’ve never discussed my view with them – it has to be their choice! Wow – so glad to have read this! #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 22, 2016

      I’ve never met anyone else like this until I wrote this post, and suddenly there seem to be loads of us! It’s amazing that both of your children have chosen a meat-free lifestyle. I really do hope that my boys will at least think about it when they’re a little older, but I will never try to persuade them. It absolutely has to be up to them, otherwise it just won’t mean anything to them. Thank you so much for commenting. It’s so interesting to read about your experiences!

      Liked by 1 person

      • justsayingmum · May 22, 2016

        aww you’re so right – it has to be their decision so it means something to them x

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Allyson Greene · May 23, 2016

    Wow! I am in awe of your decision, it is rare a parent really allows their child to make a decision, and yes I have come across many a vegetarian all about the judging. I have so much respect for how you have chosen to handle this issue and raise your kids! Way to go Mama. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 23, 2016

      Thank you, that’s a lovely thing to say. I gave it a lot of thought, but when O was born N hadn’t made the transition (again, his own choice from watching documentaries and living in the country where we often encounter “livestock”) and it just didn’t seem right to force my lifestyle choices on another human being.

      Like

  11. dotmakes4 · May 23, 2016

    Great post. My mum was a vegetarian for years (she eventually gave up because of bacon!), but she never forced her to be vegetarians. She let us make our own choice. We did all choose to eat meat, but I love that she left it up to us to decide 🙂
    Laura xx
    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. practicalbydefault · May 23, 2016

    I love this post! My SIL is veggie, and I am totally supportive, with so many food allergies and sensitivities going around why not. I think you are an awesome parent. You are letting them choose. Great job! #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 24, 2016

      Thank you. I’m really surprised by the positive response this post has had. I didn’t expect it at all!

      Like

  13. Savannah (@HowHesRaised) · May 24, 2016

    I love this post! It’s so interesting to see someone who is veggie, but isn’t raising their kids that way. Most of the time, I’ve found that they tend to raise their kids the same way. I think it’s awesome giving them the opportunity to choose for themselves! ❤ #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 24, 2016

      Part of it is because a lot of the time I don’t feed myself properly (lack of time to do so/interest in food) and I am anaemic as a result. It’s pretty easy to become anaemic as a vegetarian and O already struggles with asthma and eczema – just as I did as a child – and he doesn’t need another health problem. But he and F also absolutely deserve to have a choice about how they want to eat, and it’s not for me to make that choice on their behalf.

      Like

  14. Emma - meandbmaketea · May 24, 2016

    really great post. im not vegetarian but have been toying with the idea of becoming veggie after reading and researching things that we do typically push to the back of our minds. I do think though that if I was going to be veggie, then id need to go all out and be vegan – only because my reading has taken me to the horrors of egg production, milk production etc etc. and again, it is all too easy for me to try and “forget” these things than do something positive…I don’t feel prepared to make such a lifestyle change :/ #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · May 24, 2016

      I have vegan days quite often and we never have cow’s milk in our house. We are rescuing some chickens from slaughter soon and I will happily eat their eggs as I will know how loved and nurtured they are, but I will no longer eat eggs bought from supermarkets as I know how those creatures suffer. It’s hard to make such a dramatic lifestyle change and it’s definitely something that you have to be prepared for. I wish you all the luck in the world in whatever choices you make, and please know that anyone who judges you is not worth your time. X

      Like

  15. A mum track mind · May 26, 2016

    I’m not vegetarian myself but that’s only because I am allergic to dairy so it would basically make me vegan and no, just no. I can’t bear the thought of the way meat is farmed in some places (mainly supermarket meat) so I always buy our meat from the butchers after I thoroughly interrogated them about the life of the animals etc. Still, I can’t bear the thought of eating baby anything so I won’t touch lamb/veal etc. Ugh makes me sick thinking of it. I totally think you’ve got it right though, kids should get to choose for themselves when they are old enough. Fab post lovely. Thanks for sharing on #fortheloveofBLOG x

    Liked by 1 person

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  17. Anneli · August 21

    Very interesting read! I am currently pregnant and definitely agree with the idea that our kids should be able to choose themselves how to live (for us that also includes choosing e.g. religion). We are choosing to do it the other way around; our kid will be a vegetarian (probably pescatarian) from the start and if they choose to eat meat when they’re older we’ll accommodate for that. My husband is only a vegetarian at home and we make raw food for our cats (i.e. raw meat) so it wouldn’t be a massive deal if they did. But part of my reasons for choosing not to eat meat are (apart from animal welfare) because I believe it is healthier and meat industry has such a big negative environmental impact. I believe that I would do them a bigger favour by not giving meat than the other way around. But that’s me!

    I agree with getting comments from judgemental people when you decide to become a vegetarian! I feel like I spend much more time defending my choice of food nowadays than I did when I ate meat – when it really (if anything) should be the other way around!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · August 21

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing it the other way around at all; parenting is all about finding the things that work for you and your family.
      I agree that children should have a choice about religion too, as I do think it means more to them if they find it themselves rather than have it forced upon them.

      Like

  18. keepcalmkami · November 8

    This post really made me reflect on somethings. I became a vegetarian back in primary school for a variety of reasons. It was my own choice, the rest of my family are omnivores and my mother has never been supportive of my choice. I did a lot of research on nutrition growing up and am now quite comfortable in the kitchen and really enjoy making meals. Sometimes, I think about how that will transfer to having a family of my own. I have never considered my self a self-righteous veg-head. In fact, I have had a lot of my meat-eating friends tell me they forget that I’m vegetarian because I don’t fuss about what they eat. I’m of the mind set that I shouldn’t force what I do on others. That being said, I don’t know if I would start out feeding my (future) children meat, or not. Not that I would keep it from them at all, especially if they wanted to be omnivores. I guess I just feel that they could transition from vegetarian to omnivore or omnivore to vegetarian, or pescatarian to vegan. I hope that whatever I decide down the road that they feel comfortable and educated no matter what they choose to eat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Motherhood IRL · November 8

      I think just being open about food with children is a really important first step. They don’t start to ask where their food comes from until they’re about 4, and I don’t think they really consider that too carefully until a good few years later. My boys really don’t get fed an awful lot of meat at home because I just don’t cook it, and my eldest loves cheese and leek sausages like you wouldn’t believe. But he does quite often choose the meat option at school, and I think a lot of that is to do with eating what his friends are eating and trying to fit in.

      Whatever you decide, I’m sure you’ll do it with your family at the centre of your decision :).

      Liked by 1 person

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