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A preschool vegetarian
November 20, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
The New York Times' Motherlode blog has an essay this week by Debra Liese, who is worried about her daughter, who started refusing to eat meat at age four after her mother read her "Charlotte's Web."
The story, which is titled "Vegetarian Too Young", struck a chord with me since I, too, became a vegetarian when I was a preschooler. In my case, it was after a cow I had turned into a pet got loose on the highway and was hit by an oncoming semi. My grandfather said he was going to turn my pet into steaks and I refused to ever again eat meat. Liese's daughter, now 7, sounds like she is even more adamant than I was, since she cries when her mother kills a mosquito and marches up and down in front of her house with an animal rights protest sign. Her parents are trying to teach her not to criticize others' food choices and explaining that her family is privileged to be able to afford to buy hummus and tofu and organic vegetables, which are a bit expensive.
I also thought some of the comments on the blog from vegetarians who made similar decisions at an early age were interesting. Apparently it is more common than people might think for kids from meat-eating families to decide to become vegetarians on their own. One mother complained that she wishes her 10-year-old had waited to become a vegetarian until she was old enough to make her own food. Her vegetarianism is an inconvenience to her family.
Liese said in her essay that her friends have criticized her for letting her daughter, now 7, make her own food choices and think she is too young. Personally, I think the best thing to do in a case like this is to offer the child encouragement and teach her how to eat a healthy vegetarian diet. Pressuring her to eat meat would likely end in disaster.
How would you handle a kid like this who wants to do something out of the ordinary?
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