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A vegetarian parent raising a non-vegetarian child

A vegetarian parent raising a non-vegetarian child

“What would you like for breakfast?” I asked my daughter recently.

“BACON!” she said.

“How about Weetabix instead? And maybe Daddy will share some of his bacon,” I said.

“Mummy doesn’t eat bacon,” she said.

“No,” I said. “Mummy doesn’t.”

Around 20 years ago, I became vegetarian-ish. I still ate chicken if there were no veggie options, but I gave up all other meats. Maybe ‘gave up’ is the wrong way to put it – I never really liked eating meat that much, so it was hardly a sacrifice. I simply stopped doing a thing I didn’t enjoy doing anyway.

I wish I could say that I carefully considered the health, environmental and animal rights implications of vegetarianism before concluding that it was right for me, but I really just found the texture of meat to be a bit icky. Later I read about all that other stuff and thought, “Hey, this vegetarian thing could actually be really good for me and the planet,” but it was secondary the ick factor.

A few years later, I lost my taste for chicken too. Besides a brief flirtation with pescetarianism a few years ago – which taught me that I’m not really into fish either – I’ve been vegetarian ever since. It’s such a basic part of me now that I don’t even question it. I’m a woman. I’m a wife. I’m a mother. I’m a vegetarian.

But my husband isn’t. And neither is my kid.

Why I let my child eat meat

1. She’s tiny.

Like, 2nd percentile tiny. And picky. I don’t want to deny her anything that will help her grow, especially protein. Yes, I know there lots of are non-animal sources of protein, but while I’m quite happy to eat a quinoa burger or a pile of hemp seeds, she’s not. Because she’s two. I’m lucky if I can convince her to eat anything that’s not fruit or cheese.

2. It’s easier.

I don’t have to worry about her not being able to eat at nursery, restaurants or other people’s houses. She doesn’t have any food allergies, so she can shove any old thing in her gob.

3. I want to let her decide if she wants to eat meat for herself.

A controversial idea in the veggie community, maybe, but I want to expose her to as many foods as possible as she grows up – and that includes meat. She rejects most everything I put in front of her in favour of Babybel cheese and bananas, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

When she’s old enough to ask, I’ll explain to her where meat comes from. If my answer bothers her, she doesn’t have to eat it anymore. Her diet is already 80% vegetarian anyway, so it would hardly be a big change.

The only meat she’s shown any real enthusiasm for is bacon, which I totally get, because bacon smells delicious. She’d rather have a lentil pie than a steak pie. The last time she tried a beef burger, she scraped it off her tongue. She won’t even touch fish fingers, the most inoffensive, child-friendly food ever.

I won’t be surprised if she goes veggie too, but if she doesn’t, that’s okay. She and her father can tuck into their Spaghetti Bolognese while I eat my Quorn version. We’ll all be covered in sauce by the end regardless, because we’re messy like that.


A vegetarian parent raising a non-vegetarian child

Two Tiny Hands
Rhyming with Wine

7 thoughts on “A vegetarian parent raising a non-vegetarian child”

  • I do the same and for the same reasons. I’m vegetarian but my husband and daughter isn’t. I believe they can decide about it later and because they are both very picky – I don’t have too much choice. #familyfunkinky

  • I started eating meat free last year, for many reasons, but my son & husband still both eat meat. I’m very much of the mind that he can make that decision for himself, and at four, he definitely isn’t quite there for making an informed decision yet. Ha!

  • My fiance and I are both pretty much vegetarian but the kids aren’t. My sons eat meat when they visit their father, and all of my kids can eat whatever they want when we go out to eat. My only rule is that I no longer cook meat in the house, mostly because I don’t like the cleanup.

    I’m actually closer to veganism in diet that vegetarianism. I’d say 80-90% of my meals are vegan (I try to increase this all the time). Less so for the kids. If we have visitors that don’t want vegan milk in their tea, they bring their own milk.

  • I think you are being very sensible actually and relaxed about for which is always a good thing around children. We eat very little meat but my son has discovered steak and so I buy it for him. He’s 15 and huge and I think his body is just crying out for protein because it can’t keep up with his growth spurts! He doesn’t eat potatoes and won’t touch fast food so eats really healthily. It sounds as if your little one may not like meat anyway so she may choose to be a vegetarian when she’s older. #dreamteam

  • I 100% agree with your reasons and I’m the same. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 13 (although I will eat fish as long as it’s a fillet, I can’t eat anything that I can actually picture alive if you know what I mean), but my husband and kids all eat meat and that’s the way it should be. If they decide they want to be vegetarian when they are older then that’s their choice.
    Thank you for joining #FamilyFunLinky x

  • Hi Katie, I love your approach. I used to know someone who was a vegetarian and insisted that her daughter was one too, even though she was very small. It seems much better to allow children to make up their own mind, that way they get the chance to try a whole range of food (even if they prefer Babybel and bananas). .. My daughter isn’t keen on the texture if meat either and doesn’t eat that much, although she’d happily eat a packet of bacon.


  • We do the same thing! We want to let our girls decide whether or not to be veggies like us, so they don’t rebel and eat mcdonalds and burger king all of the time as adults. Bacon was cooking in our home this weekend too. #dreamteam xoxo

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