Where does that meat come from, Mom?
What happens when your child discovers where their food comes from.

What, I ate one of the 3 Little Pigs?

Standing in the queue at a fish and chip shop, my 4-year-old spied a frozen fish on the counter, “Mom, how did that fish get dead?” she asked. I replied that it had been caught and quickly frozen and hoped she wouldn’t think too hard about that. We continued standing in the queue. A few moments later, she stated “I don’t want to eat fish tonight, just chips.” She loves fish. However, I understood. The realisation that meat comes from animals had just hit.

Read more: Vegetarian Kids – having ‘the’ food convo with your child
The vegetarian basics

Being a vegetarian means eating vegetables – oh yuck!

When I was a little girl of about nine or ten, I told my parents I would become a vegetarian because the realisation of where meat came from upset me so much. They chatted to other vegetarians and were happy to support me in this and they learnt about how to include protein and iron in my diet in sufficient quantities for a growing child. 

However, by the end of the first meal it had dawned on me that being a vegetarian required eating only vegetables. I decided that I’d still feel very sad for the animals, but I still wasn’t going to eat spinach, and I’d have to remain an omnivore. I have the teeth for an omnivorous diet anyway.  

We no longer see Chicken Little in the hen house and later on the plate

We have become so far removed from where our food comes from, that it can be quite a shock for children to discover that we eat those cute creatures. Even children on farms buy their meat at the supermarket and don’t usually see animals slaughtered on the farm.
Some children however don’t really mind. When I made home made fish fingers for my son, he happily hungrily them, bit them and said “I’m eating Nemo”. He’s a sensitive and kind child, but he happily wears leather shoes and eats meat and isn’t overly concerned about the issue.  

Once the shock has worn off

My daughter has happily gone back to enjoying eating biltong, mince, bacon, ribs, chops and all the foods she can’t identify as actually coming from an animal. She is a bit hesitant when we say we are having lamb, but I think she likes chops too much to let on that she’s made that connection. She loves honey and every time she sees a bee or hears of someone stung by a bee she tells me that bees make honey and they are our friends. She still finds it extremely funny that we drink milk from a cows udder, despite happily breastfeeding until the age of four – milk from humans is fine, but milk from a cow? Why would you do that? Luckily she hasn’t discovered where cheese, butter and yoghurt are from.  

Tonight we are having bunny chow for supper, that delicious Durban staple of curry in a quarter loaf of bread.  I wonder if she will believe me that it doesn’t contain any actual bunnies? 

How did your children react when they discovered where their food comes from?

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