Raising a Vegetarian Kid: Yes or No?

The following is a personal piece. This is an outlet for parents and individuals who would like to share their stories, in the hope that others will connect and find support. If you have a story you’d like to share, please message us on Facebook or email us at bianca@momof11kids.com.

To raise a child vegetarian or to not raise a child vegetarian… hmm. This seems to be the topic of debate in my house these days. I’m not a Mom, or even a wife yet, but my boyfriend and I discuss marriage and children pretty frequently. We have a plan, and we know what we want (for the most part). We recently had a bit of a quarrel on the topic of raising a vegetarian kid. To some, this sounds extreme. To others… not so much – me included.

If we’re speaking candidly here, I am a vegan and have been for over a year now. It’s a decision that I made for health and ethical reasons, along with a plethora of other reasons. It’s just the way I want to live my life, and I feel good knowing that I am a part of something I feel passionate about. If you’re interested, here are a few fast facts about veganism.

So anyways, vegetarianism and children. I asked Joe if he would mind if I raised our children this way, and yes, he did mind. Oh great, I thought to myself. “No, NOT vegan. Just no meat!” I argued. “Then what will you tell our kids when I am eating meat?” Well, I haven’t thought that far in advance yet, but we will figure something out! “But what if my kid wants to try a piece of chicken? I don’t want to deny them of them.” Okay, yeah. I get it. And if my child asked his Dad for a bite of chicken pot pie, well then fine. But there’s nothing wrong with a veggie pizza vs. a meat lovers pizza. It’s nutritious and delicious!
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As the debate progressed, I have to admit, Joe was making some valid points, but I kept at it. I already do not cook meat (Joe is an amazing cook and loves to make his own meals most days, and also enjoys my vegan cooking, lucky for me) and I don’t think I would change that. I would simply make plant-based meals and raise them on that – at least until they are old enough to make their own decisions. Joe started coming around to the idea, but then it got me thinking more and more. What WOULD I do when my kid wanted to try meat? I mean, they have free will to make the choice. It can be a pretty personal choice, right? Then again… when did meat become the “norm?” My head still spins thinking about it.

We finally landed on this: I’ll cook plant-based meals for my family, after all, that is what I thrive on and what nourishes me. I will teach my child kindness and compassion towards all living things. I’ll be honest with my child when they grow older and ask why Mama doesn’t eat chicken. If sweetheart wants to try some chicken noodle soup that Dad made, I won’t take that from them. What am I going to say? “No, sorry. Dad eats bad things.” I couldn’t do that to him, and I wouldn’t do that to him. When my kids grow older, they can decide for themselves. By then, they will have an abundance of knowledge and will see both sides of the story. Either way, I’ll be happy knowing that I could raise my kids as kind and as healthy as possible. I’m not here to force views on anyone – kids or adults – but I do like to share my side of the story and hope to inspire. If this is the way I choose to live, why wouldn’t I live it out with my children, too? I mean, I’m here to be their guide, and I think I should guide them honestly.
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Of course, we are still a ways away from kids, so this could change. I’m constantly reading about how others handle this sort of situation, and am open to all input. Is this something that you have experience with/would like advice on? I’d love to get your input. Please do not hesitate to leave your thoughts in the comment section – just remember, please be kind!

Thanks for listening to my thoughts.


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3 Responses to “Raising a Vegetarian Kid: Yes or No?”

  1. Matt on

    I always find it amusing when folks think a diet based on plants grown from the earth as “extreme” compared to a diet that includes stringing a pig up by it hind legs, slitting its throat so it can bleed out, then ripping out it entrails and chopping the corpse up into convenient cellophane wrapped packages for easy pickup at your grocery store.

    But it is a vegan diet that is “extreme”.

    But anyway. You should raise your children in the manner you feel is the best for them. There is nothing unsafe or extreme about a vegetarian or even a vegan diet. It is all any of us can do; make the best choices we can for our children until they are old enough to make their own decisions. No one questions it when parents raise their kids on a traditional western diet and then that kid grows up to decide to be a vegetarian or vegan. I am no expert but I think you have a solid grip on the issue.

    • Bianca Scartabello on

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks so much for your comment and input. I agree 100% with you on your first paragraph! When did eating meat become the “norm?” Sounds pretty barbaric to me! It’s tough when your other half is a meat eater – like I said, I would hate to paint him out to be the “bad guy” in the house because he eats “our friends.” But at the same time, he is not the one who is cooking most times, so hopefully it won’t be as much of an issue as I imagine it to be. It’s such a tough/hot topic, but I can’t help thinking about it for future.

      I like to think that the best way to go about it is simply to stick with what I believe in. I’ll practice what I preach and cook the same ‘ol meals that I make for myself… and like you said, once they are 100% educated, understand where their food comes from, and why Mommy chooses to eat the way she does, they can make an informed (hopefully compassionate) decision.

      Thanks again for sharing – I appreciate it!


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