Motherhood

A Child Explains Why He’s a Vegetarian

vegetarian-kids

Oh my goodness, have you seen this video of a three-year-old boy in Brazil explaining why he won’t eat his dinner? (“This octopus isn’t real, right?”) It is so, so sweet, and the mother’s reaction at the end made me tear up. Also, it makes you think.

Are you vegetarian? If so, what are your reasons?

P.S. 8 ways to get kids to eat vegetables.

(Top photo by William Gedney, Leatherwood, Kentucky, 1972, via Shorpy.)

  1. Krystal says...

    “Why are you crying? … I’m doing something beautiful.”
    Of course he’s doing something beautiful. Using simple logic and stating his choice. Fortunately, he has a wonderful mom that respects his decision. Cheers to that!

  2. I first saw this video a couple months ago, it’s so sweet and his innocence and simple logic is really beautiful!

  3. Katie says...

    I love this video! Just yesterday, my husband and I were at a restaurant with our three-year-old son, who is a vegetarian, when a cooking show playing in the background mentioned leg of lamb. My son asked, “Did the lamb’s leg fall off when it was running? What happened to it?” Just like the boy in the video, my son could not fathom why anyone would hurt an animal in order to eat it.

  4. Lisa P says...

    I have been vegan 10 years and I would never go back I feel very connected to all animals and I am compassionate I feel so much lighter in mind and spirit knowing that I do not support or contribute to the horrific conditions in factory farms
    Thanks for posting this

  5. crystalsw says...

    Adorable and perceptive little kid…
    For me I quit eating meat about a year and a half ago and feel so much better in every way that I did. I can’t stand meat anymore. I find vegetables, seeds, cereals, and especially fruits so much more delicious and refreshing!!!

  6. This is so incredibly touching. Booker and I have watched it numerous times it is just the sweetest interaction. What a sweet and special little boy (and mama!).

  7. tw says...

    this made me cry. I’m a Brazilian and I understand Portuguese, so luckily I didn’t have to read the caption which only evokes more emotion by just listening to the boy. being from Brazil I understand how much meat is a part of the culture, more so than being an American. so being a vegetarian in Brazil is not as accepted as it is here (in certain regions). The boy demonstrates such empathy at such a young age I’ve never seen a child act like that I’ve been a vegetarian for five years and while sometimes I miss chicken or even a hotdog it’s not even anywhere near worth what it goes through to get that meat. everyone should watch this. (just emailed and whatsapp-ed my fam in Brazil this link!)

  8. Nicole Brant says...

    That made me cry. What an exceptionally bright and empathetic child. His mama’s heart must have been bursting with pride.

  9. Crystal says...

    I’ve been vegan for 9 years, my husband has been vegan for 13 years. I love it, every day I know I’ve done my best to extend compassion to others and that includes animals. Every living being values it’s life. I don’t think we should decide who gets to live based on what they can do for us, how cute they are, etc. Our future kiddos will be vegan. Our dogs are even vegan.

  10. I’ve been a vegetarian for 25 years. I watched a video when I was a kid about the meat industry, deforestation and the amount of grain used to feed cattle that could potentially feed the world’s population. I put down the beef burrito I was eating and never looked back. My mother was scared to death that I would die without meat. It wasn’t very mainstream at that time. My nephew became a vegetarian at an even younger age and has also never looked back. My son, at age six, is also a vegetarian. I’ve never missed meat. Not once! Also, I totally agree with the first poster! And I really love that video!

  11. Lise says...

    I watched Vegucated on netflix one day and decided to “try” vegetarian out. 2 years later I haven’t missed meat. The resources required to produce meat, the conditions of factory farming, and the health benefits of a plant based diet convinced me. At first I made the mistake of making the same old foods, but leaving the meat off or trying to substitute with fake meats. Yuck. Vegetables, fruit, grains, they can all taste amazing on their own without the fake. I’m a better cook now.

  12. I am a vegetarian because I believe animals deserve to be treated with dignity. I took a break from vegetarianism for a while (after 5 years) and eating meat just never “felt right.” Now I’m a vegetarian again and I feel healthier, happier and more closely connected with our planet. It’s truly empowering and I do recommend it, but but think it’s important not to preach it, to those who are interested.

  13. Kristen says...

    On my walk to work I pass a live poultry market in Chinatown (Philly). They often leave the door open and make it easy to peer in to see all the caged animals. The cage closest to the door has several bunnies shoved on top of one another- so soft and cuddly looking. They look so unhappy being shoved so close together in the cage, it always makes me so sad. And, I can never look away. So, after passing this a couple of times, I stopped eating meat.

  14. Anna says...

    As a long time veg, I rest easier knowing that my grocery money isn’t supporting the terrible conditions in factory farms and the environmental impact of the meat industry as a whole. I have also noticed that I eat a much healthier, more diverse, whole food diet when I don’t rely on meat to fill 1/3 of my plate. That being said, there is a healthy and a not-healthy way to be a vegetarian. Plenty of vegetarians live on highly processed foods and foods high in sugar, which present their own set of problems for health. It is also worth noting that plant-based eating has an impact on animals and the environment, too, especially as long as we rely on large-scale agriculture. One thing I like about vegetarians in general is that they try to be very conscientious about food, and that seems like a step in the right direction.

  15. I am vegetarian because of world hunger. If land was used for growing plant food and distributed well, we could end hunger.

  16. Bekah says...

    My husband and I are! Our first year of marriage we began transitioning, and have been full Veg for the last 4 years. While the reasons for this decision are many, my favorite has been how empowered it has made me feel. I was tired of hearing about problems with health, environment, and the horrible treatment of animals, but feeling too insignificant to make a change. BUT by going veg, I get to “vote with my dollars” EVERY SINGLE DAY! It makes me smile just thinking about how meaningful that is!

  17. meg says...

    I am gradually cutting down our meat (which is already low) consumption.
    Ideally will be vegan :(

    2 resason for me:

    Carbon/resource foot print. Using water to grow corn to feed livestock, water for livestock, gasoline and pesticides used to feed livestock, the methane emitted by livestock, the trees clear cut to raise livestock.
    It takes like 800 gallons of water to get a pound of beef.
    Crazy bad for planet.

    Also, seen the chicken “barns” – so so horror sic-fi movie!

  18. Michelle Ruetschle says...

    This was me as a child! However my mother was not sympathetic and made me eat meat. I felt bad about it all of those years, and as soon as I left home at 18 I stopped eating meat. I am now 44 and have not eaten it since that day! I don’t believe it is wrong to eat meat although I do believe there is plenty wrong with the meat industry (and food industry generally) today. But my spirit, like this little boy’s, was always sensitive to the animals I was forced to eat, and it has not changed in all of these years. I have three boys and they all eat meat.

  19. I’ve been a pescetarian for about 5 years now because I simply hate the way animals are tortured throughout their lives on factory farms.

    xx

  20. Emily says...

    Thanks for posting this, Joanna. It makes me so happy when we think twice before eating or wearing animals. They feel things too. “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

  21. I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly 12 years and can say I don’t think I will ever go back to eating meat/fish/seafood. I chose to do it because of my strong compassion for animals and the choice is right for me and I am very healthy.
    I do believe what you put into your body is a very personal thing and that each person is different and nobody should be judged for what they eat.

  22. Wow!!! And you know… eating beef is very strong in brazilian culture. I can tell as a brazilian myself!! This video made me very happy! There’s hope for my country yet!

  23. Laura C says...

    So touching.
    My husband once told me that lobsters cry when they get into boiling water.
    I was a recent mom so I was very sensible and I started crying, and I won’t eat lobster anymore.
    xxx

  24. Maria says...

    Hey Joanna, thank you so much for posting this video! I am vegan, so is my baby son and my husband is vegetarian. We are all perfectly healthy and i couldn’t imagine another lifestyle for us.
    Greetings from Vienna/Austria

    PS: Come and visit us sometime, I think you would like my hometown! :)

  25. Jacqueline says...

    I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 10 years. I started when I became more passionate about protecting the environment and read that livestock is the number one contributor towards global warming, and beautiful forests and rainforest are being razed for more grazing/farming land for livestock (currently livestock takes up 26% of the earth’s liveable land). I’m also an animal lover! Plus I live in California, where we are experiencing a terrible drought and the majority of our water goes towards livestock. I don’t judge people that aren’t vegetarians, as my husband isn’t. To each his own! But it’s definitely been the right path for me.

  26. liz says...

    My son gram (6) has been a vegetarian for a little over a year. He read Charlotte’s Web in school and just couldn’t take eating animals any longer. He is a bit of an activist about it, I guess lunch time at school has had some tense moments. We cook and eat vegetarian for him, it has been a change of lifestyle, but his passion is pretty contagious. We watched charlottes web together and the scene where they were deciding what to write on the web, he kept yelling at the screen “how about be a friend to nature? How about I taste disgusting?”. It has been a cool year.

  27. While I am not a vegetarian now, I was for a few years. My struggle, and why I switched back, was lack of nutrients or a balanced diet.

    However, this video is so sweet andI love how much the mother appreciates his words. They moved me as well. I’ll definitely have to look into some new recipes and ideas, as it seems absurd for me to still eat animals when I love and take care of so many as family.

  28. Robin says...

    So sweet. I had a similar moment at 19, where I was sitting in front of a plate of fried chicken and just couldn’t think of it but anything but a whole lot of dead animals. I was never able to eat meat again. I try not to judge others – I think environmentally eating a little meat that is sustainably raised and cared for can make sense, though I don’t think you can rationalize supporting factory farming. But for me, happy cow or not, I still don’t want to eat it. So sad and wrong. I want the cow to stay standing.

  29. This reminds me of This American Life a few weeks ago that the little boy feels so passionately about not eating meat and gets so upset when his brother gets pepperoni pizza! Precious.

  30. mindi says...

    I have truly enjoyed reading the comments on this post! Nearly every viewpoint is represented, thoughtfully and respectfully. I’ve personally been a vegetarian (fluctuating from vegan to pescetarian over 25 years) since I was 10. As a kid, it started because I never enjoyed meat. My mom, who is very generous about trying new recipes, has always been supportive and worked really hard to get the whole family to experiment with vegetarian meals. In my early 20s I read “Fast Food Nation,” and the description of how farm factory animals and workers are treated really solidified my decision. Today I heard an interview on Fresh Air with Joel Bourne about his new book, “The End of Plenty,” (http://www.npr.org/2015/06/08/412236817/as-global-population-grows-is-the-earth-reaching-the-end-of-plenty in case anyone is interested!) which really supports the idea of more thoughtful eating. It’s a really fascinating listen, and I’m sure will be an educational read. Thanks for sparking a great conversation, Joanna and community! Cheers!

  31. sarah says...

    hi Joanna! I’ve been a vegetarian for 3.5 years; it began when I read “eating animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer. I figured that if I read the book and felt OK about eating meat, I would continue on my merry way. needless to say, I cried through 90% of the book and decided a change was in order. it isn’t nearly as hard as I thought, although I wasn’t a big meat eater. but even now, I get cravings – and, admittedly, had a meatball at Christmas to re-affirm my commitment (I had been thinking about my mothers meatballs for several months prior) – but I feel so good knowing that my love for animals outweighs my desire to eat that delicious looking hamburger that my sister just ordered! plus, those veggie burgers really aren’t so bad! ;)

    I don’t mind at all that the majority of my friends/family still eat meat, but the frustrating thing is that they choose to be ignorant to the process. I would rather someone read the books/watch the documentaries, and after, say that it’s not enough to make a lifestyle change. but — to each their own.

  32. Miyan says...

    I am not vegetarian but try to eat meat very little, maybe in 2 meals per week. My heart tells me I should not eat it and to be honest, I actually feel a little guilt when I do eat meat, but I consciously make an effort to eat 80% vegetarian meals . Going to work harder at it, something I feel so strongly about is the welfare of animals and truly despise the meat industry in America. Really love this video – so sweet and simple . Thank you for sharing, going to circulate to all my friends and family!

  33. This is such a sweet video! I am a life long vegetarian and am raising my children to be that way as well. I’ve stayed with it all these years for just the reasons the little boy states: an animal suffering for my meal breaks my heart. Beyond that, it feels like a healthy and sustainable way to eat. I don’t judge others for not making that choice, my husband eats meat and wouldn’t be healthy on a vegetarian diet, but I never will. The hardest part about raising my kids vegetarian is explaining the non-judgement part- the cooking is easy. But how to explain that I feel so strongly that something is wrong when someone else might not, and that is ok? That’s a complicated thing for a child to grasp.

  34. Jodi says...

    I’ve been a vegetarian for 22 years. Originally I made the choice because I was apalled by the cruelty of factory farming (which is still just as awful all these years later, how sad) and the impact raising animals for meat has on the environment. With time, I have realized though, that I just feel better physically not eating meat. My weight barely changes and being a vegetarian has caused me to be more thoughtful about everything I put in my body. I have to agree with that darling boy though, I’d also just rather see the animals live, and I guess he’s right, I am doing something beautiful :)

  35. melissa says...

    this is beautiful, can’t stop tearing up at my desk! what a sweet little boy.

  36. Maureen says...

    I am a vegetarian and have been since new year 2007. I always had this underlying feeling that eating animals was wrong. I remember being out for a walk at springtime and walking past a lamb that was stuck in a fence and how its little body struggled and struggled to escape as we approached and I wondered how scared a little lamb must be as it goes into the slaughter. But I used to love eating meat and ate a meat based dinner pretty much every night. I never thought I could stick to being a vegetarian.

    At new year I decided to give it a go, not even expecting to last the month. To my surprise, it was so much easier than I thought and eight and a half years later, here I am. Now I don’t imagine I will ever eat meat again.

    Being a veggie in the UK is pretty easy but I’ve travelled a lot and in some countries it’s very hard. I lived in Korea for two years and it was pretty much a nightmare. The concept of vegetarianism barely exists over there.

    I’m not the type to lecture people, I believe vegetarianism is a decision you have to reach yourself, but strangely enough I have encountered a lot more antagonism than I’ve given out; vegetarian jokes and “I’m off to eat some delicious meat” comments. Very boring and unimaginative.

  37. Callie says...

    I’ve seen this video, and it’s oh so sweet. Children are so compassionate. I’ve been a pescatarian (former vegetarian) for many years, partially because my parents ate vegetarian for health reasons, but also because I was a kid who couldn’t stomach eating animals I loved. I know optimal nutrition for most people includes meat protein, so I never say vegetarianism is the only best choice. I think the next best thing we truly CAN do for animals (and our environment) is improve their welfare–that means eating less meat, buying from local, sustainably-minded producers, and moving away from factory farming. It’s too expensive for most people right now, but you can see this model is possible–just look at how much more accessible organic and local produce has become as “Organic” has become trendy! Thank you for talking about this, Jo!

  38. Joanna,

    I love this video so much – I watch it periodically and told all my friends and family about it. :) It makes me believe in reincarnation – how can someone so young have such a profound realization? I certainly was not like him at his age – became a vegetarian as a teenager.

  39. Madison G says...

    this video is adorable. i’ve been a pescatarian for 11 years now and am thinking about transitioning to vegetarianism. the reason I began not eating land animals is because of animal rights, animals are treated so inhumanly it breaks my heart. have you watched the documentary ‘food inc.’? it’ll totally open your mind to how our meat is produced

  40. Lisa says...

    This is so interesting. I am not a vegetarian, and will never be – I love meat. I can CRAVE meat. But. There is a but – I grew up in a small village in the northern part of Scandinavia where the milk came from the local farmer, the meat was very often reindeer (local), the potatoes from a farm down the street, vegetables local, eggs local, berries picked a short walk from the house, the fish came from the nearby river or a relative who had been on a fishing trip a few hours away.. Everything was LOCAL. Small scale farms, local farmers, meat caught or hunted in the forest and rivers in the area. My mum didnt even let us eat store bought bread since “when I bake myself I know whats in it”! Then I moved away from this area, and I was pretty darn broke and young, but all the food I knew how to cook included meat of some form. Mostly. So I bought mass produced, for years. Then when my budget allowed me, I started buying meat from local farmers markets instead. I buy local, organic, free range as much as I can. If I then eat a steak I dont know where its from every now and then in a restaurant, im not going to beat myself up for it. Im doing the best I can, for the life I have, at the moment.

    • I grew up similarly, in Switzerland. We grew corn and potatos an weggies, had goats for milk/cheese, birds for eggs, fished and had rabbits for food. I loved and cared for them too, my dad slaughtered them once a year. I knew exactly “who” I was eating and it never bothered me. Also, in years where the deers caused too much loss in the wineyards, one was added to the menù to balance it out. I was into native americans, and I knew they respected animals deeply and ate them too. So that was the way I saw it. Nowadays I barely eat meat..since I cannot grow my own, and don’t crave it much. Once a month is the norm.

  41. I am a vegetarian, and I have been for almost 10 years. Idk, meat was just one of those things I didn’t care for much. Though lately, I’ve been craving turkey, so who knows?

  42. Emily says...

    Btw, that was really lovely. I thought his comment about doing something beautiful reflected his awareness of his mother’s respect for him and for the world around her. I love the way she talked to him and really listened to him. It’s so easy to just dismiss this sort of thing as a whim or as an inconvenience.

  43. Emily says...

    I’ve been a vegetarian/vegan/pescatarian (I shifted between) for the past 12 years. It’s because I can’t stand for the cruelty of factory farming. I’m a Christian, so I believe in a loving, self-sacrificial Creator, and I just can’t believe God would be cavalier about creation like that – I think, rather, God would be heartbroken and angry. So, I do my best. Lately I’ve eaten some local, humanely raised meat bc my issue isn’t entirely with eating animals (I still find it a challenge, but I also don’t think vegetarianism is a sustainable choice for the continued existence of agricultural animals or healthy food systems). But…I live with my in laws so my daughters eat factory farm raised meat sometimes, which I hate and am trying to figure out how to navigate with love for the whole family and without shaming. It’s just awkward and painful to tell a four year old she can eat your chicken but not grandma’s.

    • The plant “intelligence” discussed in the article you attached (habituation, ability to respond to the environment), while very interesting, is not evidence of plant nociception (ability to perceive pain). I’m a biologist (PhD, so arguably informed and aware), and as far as I know there is no evidence that plants can feel pain or anything analogous to it.

    • Heather says...

      Most plants want to be eaten, that is how they are propagated. Even if plants do react, it is the lesser of two evils and doesn’t justify eating meat.

  44. Jess. says...

    That is the sweetest thing ever. Not just the child, but the way the mother is in awe of him, and how he’s used to that. Just lovely. They’ve got me liking humans again for the day. xox

  45. I am not a vegetarian, but I’m not a big meat eater. I prefer seafood and greens. I totally commend real healthy vegetarians (not the ones that live off of cheese sandwiches!)!! I eat healthy and people question me all the time “oh are you on a diet?” Or “how long do you have to eat this way?” So I can only imagine how vegetarians get treated. I recently read a great food tip that said “a great friend to have is a vegetarian because they do marvelous things with vegetables!” I couldn’t agree more!

  46. Denise says...

    Thank you so much for this post, Joanna! I love all your posts but this one is special… to me…I am a vegetarian ;.)
    Best wishes from Berlin

  47. Tyler says...

    I think being vegetarian is fantastic for your health and for the planet – I just can’t do it. I do, however, only eat meat two or three meals a week. My husband and I eat a mostly plant based diet and it suits us well, but I could never give up the occasional steak or piece of bacon. And I don’t think I should have to. But the environmental strain caused by the production of so much cheap meat is very real. Meat should be expensive, so that it does become a rare indulgence. Meat is labor intensive and difficult to produce. It is a luxury but we have come to expect it daily, and for cheap. Much like the piece you posted on nail salons Jo, when a luxury becomes affordable it is because someone or something is suffering. In this case it is the environment, the animals and usually the farm workers.

    Not just meat – water should be more expensive, gasoline should be more expensive, we should pay by the pound for our garbage going to landfills… We ridiculously undervalue our resources until we realize we have run out.

    • Allison says...

      I missed the piece about nail salons! Do you remember when that was posted so I can look in the archives??

  48. Hi Jo – I also have an unrelated question. Could you tell me how you have this comment set up? Is it through blogger or a widget you added? I really like it and am unhappy with what I have now.

    Thank you!

  49. I love when this video circles around! It always reminds me of a quote by Harvey Diamond: “You put a baby in a crib with an apple and a rabbit. If it eats the rabbit and plays with the apple I’ll buy you a new car.”

    I’ve been vegetarian all my life – my mother raised my three brothers, my sister and me vegetarian and I’m eternally grateful that she did so!

    I always love telling the tale about how when we were younger, doctors were still touting the false view that you need meat to be healthy, and whenever we went in for a checkup, they’d be shocked that we didn’t eat meat and condescend my mother. But then they were doubly shocked to discover how healthy we were, and to find our levels were equal to, if not better, than that of other, carnivorous kids our age. (We were also rarely sick.)

    When I have children of my own, I’ll be raising them vegetarian as well. I don’t think it’s fair to start children off eating meat before they’re old enough to truly understand what it is they’re consuming. Not all of my siblings are vegetarian anymore, but at least I know that THEY know and understand what they’re eating. Although for my part, I can’t understand why they would go that route if they fully understood. I feel like they must block out thoughts of what it actually is, which is something I can’t do – I can’t even walk down the meat aisle without gagging – but to each their own.

    It’s absolutely appalling to me that there are people – kids and adult – who are so totally removed from the food process that they don’t understand where the food they eat comes from. I’ll never forget an article I read about inner-city kids who had no idea food came from outside of “the grocery store.”

    I don’t expect the world will ever be 100% vegetarian/vegan, but I think everyone should know what they’re eating. I also think there’s “levels,” if you will, to eating meat. For example, meat from a slaughterhouse ranks below meat from animals that spent their life on a small farm where the consumer can know with absolutely certainty they were treated well.

    Just a few of my thoughts…

  50. katie says...

    i have been a vegetarian for roughly 12 years. my daughter has been a vegetarian for life. she is 6. we have always been very candid with her about where meat comes from and at what sacrifice, so she understands. she has had no interest in eating it, despite friends offering her a sandwich with bologna, etc. we have taught her to politely say, no thanks.

    she just finished kindergarten and all of her friends were well aware that she is a vegetarian. she has always been proud to say she is vegetarian, but has recently made the comment that she doesn’t want to tell people anymore if they ask, because she doesn’t like all the other questions they ask her. and i completely understand. when she was younger, i would receive SO MUCH flack about taking away her choice to eat meat. first of all.. she’s a kid. she doesn’t have a choice in what she eats. second of all, why not start her with a fresh plate, teach her well and give her the appropriate knowledge, and then let her make the choice for herself when she is older on whether or not she would like to participate in consumption of animal by products.

    my reason for being vegetarian and for insisting that we raise our daughter vegetarian (despite her dad NOT being one) is simply for the welfare of the animals. i don’t agree with factory farming. i don’t agree with the choice to love one animal but not the other. plus, being veg is hugely more beneficial for the environment and for one’s health.

    my only regret is that i didn’t start her as a vegan.

    • Shirley says...

      This makes me so happy. I swear people would rather kids eat Mcdonald’s burgers everyday than to grow up being vegan/vegetarian. A meat eater doesn’t deliberate whether they should force meat eating on their kids so I’m not sure why it’s a question for vegetarians and vegans.

  51. Jaclyn says...

    I became vegetarian soon after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I began to feel really hypocritical that I was eating meat but couldn’t bare to think about killing the animal I was willing to eat. I set out to eat a diet of only items I felt confident I could provide for myself in a hypothetical, moral dilemma situation.

    Over the last 9 years, I added more seafood into my diet. Basically, I eat according to my guilt level. I feel totally fine eating shellfish and shrimp and occasionally I’ll eat fin fish that has been caught sustainably but there isn’t a meal I eat where I don’t focus on being fully conscious and appreciative of what I’m actually eating.

    No matter what diet people choose to eat, I think it’s so important that people just make themselves more conscious and aware of what was required to get that food onto their plate. It’s easy to play dumb and not think about the terrible factory food practices that occur in our modern age and I’d love of more people to stop thinking, “Supersize, extra extra combo with more bacon, bacon, bacon!” and start thinking, “local, organic, whole foods!”

  52. Mischu says...

    My mother (and all her side of the family) is vegetarian. Out of my four siblings I am the only one who followed suit. I just woke up one day and realized I did not crave meat (from any animal). Not eating it just felt right. Even today, 17 years later, I would not know what to do with a slab of meat on my plate…I outgrew the taste. Living in a country where being a vegetarian is not the norm, people are confused…”So, you eat chicken, right?” “What DO you eat?”
    All I can say is that once I stopped eating meat I never missed it. There are so many other great things to eat.

  53. My three and half year old is the healthiest vegetarian eater that I know and has always refused to eat meat. She loves legumes and vegetables, grains and tofu, eggs and cheese, and everything that is good for her quickly growing body. I was a bit surprised and have expected a resistance to the food our family chooses to eat (95% vegetarian with some fish in restaurants) but have not experienced it yet. I think that by this age the texture of meat would be very strange to her palate. Her pediatrician always tells me that she is perfectly healthy and her blood is strong. I am happy that it worked out for us because I do not want to eat meat if I can help it!

  54. This broke my heart in the best way! Thanks for sharing. Children are so thoughtful and honest. It’s important to nurture that. I love that his Mom kept the line of conversation going instead of shutting him down and telling him to finish eating his octopus!

    http://DisforDreamer.com

  55. Mollie B says...

    The same way we all learn to eat from our families, our children learn from us. Don’t make a big deal about what they will and wont eat and they will learn to eat what is on the family table. Also restaurant kids menu’s are the worst thing to happen to the diet of american children.

    I’m vegetarian. My 8 year old is vegetarian by default. He has been asking to try meat. I chose to honor his curosity by buying meat from a local farm, and preparing it at home. I don’t want his first taste of meat to be from a restaurant. He said “meh” He hasn’t asked for it again.

    I was raised as an omnivore and made my own choice as a teenager. If I don’t give him all the info, how can he make a good choice for himself. Besides, as teenagers they will do the exact opposite of what we want anyway. So I figure I won’t get bent out of shape about the small stuff.

  56. Gabby T says...

    I became a vegetarian in the 7th grade – science teacher showed us a news segment on slaughterhouses and I was horrified. Went home, told my mom no more meat please and thank you and that was it! It’s been 22 years now and I would like to make the steps toward becoming vegan (because of the horrific conditions at dairy farms) but I’m having a really hard time (cheese and ice cream are my Achilles).

  57. My experience kind of mirrors Gail’s. I’m a former longtime vegetarian/vegan of 16 years who, for the past 6 or 7 years, has been eating more of an ancestral, hunter/gatherer diet. I was led down this path because I started having dreams about my health and diet (which contained some pretty specific details!) and I was at a point where my autoimmune issues weren’t improving, despite heating a healthy, whole foods, plant-based diet. Even though I had been convinced I was eating the perfect diet for health, I decided my body was desperately trying to tell me something and that I needed to honor it and listen.

    I still care very much about animal welfare and I take pains to source my animal foods from sustainable/ethical sources. I actually eat even more veggies now that they’ve displaced all the whole grains of my former diet. I don’t get blood sugar crashes or feel “hangry” anymore. Numerous people who’d known me for years asked me what I was doing differently and said I looked healthier, without knowing I’d made any diet changes. I feel more adventurous with food/cooking now, and I’m finally making a lot of progress toward reversing my autoimmune diseases :)

    It’s so important to maintain flexibility in our viewpoints and attitudes toward dietary dogma because something can seem right on the surface but it may not be right for your individual body.

  58. Christine says...

    I’ve been veggie for 20+ years and my three kids have never eaten meat. My oldest (9 years) recently asked if she could try meat sometime. We were at girl scout camp and the other girls were eating bacon. I told her that she knew my reasons for not eating meat and that we wouldn’t be serving it at home, but that I wouldn’t forbid her eating it if she wanted to. I also said that I wanted her to be *very* thoughtful about what meat she tried if she tried it (e.g., no hot dogs, McD’s hamburger, etc.). I said that she’s an intelligent girl and old enough to make her own decision about whether or not to eat meat. So far she hasn’t tried it. I think it will bother me if she does, but I’m committed to letting her make her own informed choice about the matter (btw, it’s the same basic approach I’ve taken to religion. I am not a believer, but I’ve decided to let my kids make up their own minds about such things after being raised to think critically, understand scientific principles, and learn some basics about a variety of spiritual practices).

    • I love this! This is basically the mentality my mom had when she raised us all vegetarian and it’s the exact view I plan to take with my own children some day.

    • Cait says...

      Christine, how lucky your kids are! I think that’s something that a lot of teenagers and college students are missing these days – how to actually think for themselves and when it’s time to make a decision they don’t have to run to mom and dad or their friends.

  59. Willow says...

    I am a vegetarian and I feel so weird about this. Growing up, my family ate very little meat, and I was raised to not eat red meat (only fish and poultry). I still don’t know how they came to this decision. My father eats all meat, and my mother fluctuates (vegan sometimes, vegetarian sometimes, omnivore sometimes…), but meat was simply rarely a part of our family dinners. I don’t know how I’ll approach this when I have children, I’m sure it will be majorly influenced by what their other parent thinks. But now, as a nanny for preschool-age children, it does feel weird to serve meat to children who don’t understand where it comes from. My few “regulars” know I don’t eat meat and have asked about it, and we even regularly have very matter-of-fact conversations (with the family’s blessing) about where meat comes from: “that chicken was just like the ones we saw at the farm, now it’s dead so we can eat it, etc.” “Why don’t you like meat?” “it’s not that I don’t like meat, it just makes me sad that the animal had to die so I don’t eat it.” “oh. Well I LOVE meat!” and no one seems to have a problem with it. I think it’s important not to lie, and to frame it as a choice.

  60. For me it was an easy choice to be vegetarian, once I learned some things. The trade-off is:

    “I like to eat meat” …………..vs…………….the environment, my health, and the suffering of billions of animals animals.

    Prioritizing a preference for meat ahead of any of those (the Earth, health, animals) is just clearly wrong to me. I couldn’t stomach it. I love food and it’s truly been easy to be vegetarian, although I am lucky to live in an area that is vegetarian-friendly. But I also knew how easy it would be “cheat” on vegetarianism, given my love of food and how I don’t enjoy being socially difficult. To hold myself to my new resolution, I went preachy-vegetarian on purpose to my friends and family and facebook. Now I can’t go back now without being a detestable hypocrite :) That did it for me… it will be 4 years in July!

    Very much recommend Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, Eating Animals, to anyone interested in learning more about the meat industry. He’s a beautiful writer and his book isn’t preachy at all.

    I’m still working on the ethics of being non-vegan (eating eggs and dairy), wearing leather, etc. I’ve considered the various philosophical angles and the realities of being a person in the world. It’s not easy to figure out how to be ethical. But while it’s impossible to do no harm, it is not a big deal to adjust one’s diet.

    • Congrats on 4 years! Those are some of the things that keep me going as well, apart from the simple “animals are my friends and I don’t eat my friends” phrase I’ve been spouting since I was little. =)

      The only reason people continue to eat meat, in my opinion, is because they like the way it tastes. Now, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with someone doing something simply because they like it, but to me, as with what you wrote, the trade-off is just too significant.

      Cause suffering to animals and contribute to the destruction to the environment for my taste-buds?? No thanks.

  61. Amy says...

    I was raised on a small, family-run dairy farm. Maybe my positive experience growing up on a farm with animals that were loved and well-cared for (seriously, my dad has cried when he can’t help a cow get well) has led to my pro-meat stance, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with us farming and eating animals, provided we do it responsibly and with thought for the animal. I think humans were designed as omnivores, although that certainly doesn’t mean we can’t be vegans or vegetarians. The big factory farms, on the other hand, are not so responsible – for us, the animals, or the environment.

    But do the vegans and vegetarians here consider where everything else they eat comes from? Particularly in developing countries, farm employees (humans!) aren’t always treated particularly well. I see it in my husband’s Canadian hometown, which is full of orchards. Immigrants come from Mexico and are worked to the bone while living in squalor, then sent back at the end of the harvest with meager pay that Canadians wouldn’t bother working for (although it’s good by their standards, I guess). I know it happens in the US, too. Just because it’s an organic peach doesn’t mean humans weren’t exploited during the process!

    • Grace says...

      I just wanted to leave a comment to let you know that I found your perspective extremely well-articulated and I really appreciate your Comment (FWIW I have feelings similar to yours but have never been able to convey my perspective as coherently) Thanks!

  62. Stefania LaBarre says...

    I was vegetarian for about 7 years, with some moments of weakness, but at times I tried my hardest to be vegan and then raw vegan to the point I think it grew into an obsession/eating disorder because I thought of nothing else. I tried converting my meat loving husband during that whole time. I tried to keep my kids (3 and 4) veg with me, despite them seeing their dad and all our friends and family eating meat. It became such a battle my husband and I even talked about splitting, because in my mind it was too much of a difference of ethics, opinions, etc. The kids started to ask for meat, even when I explained animals suffer and feel pain etc. So… We eat meat. All of us. I do make sure it’s locally sourced, organic, grass fed, the whole nine yards. I still struggle with the idea that I gave in, gave up, lost that battle, etc.

  63. Jodi says...

    I’ve been vegan for 7.5 years, and my original reason was for health purposes (I have heart disease and diabetes in my family). I still am vegan for those reasons, but now have also become more aware in recent years of the environmental impact of eating meat. I think your eating habits are definitely a matter of personal choice. The book (although now somewhat aged) “Skinny Bitch” got me interested in veganism, but there are so, so many great books and websites out there for anyone that is looking to incorporate more plant-based foods in their diet.

  64. There are many valid reasons to stop eating meat, but it’s not only about animals, health, and the environment– It’s about PEOPLE, too! The vast majority of meat packing houses, to this day, are horribly unsafe for workers. The industry keeps costs down via quantity-before-quality business models that are the result of an industry reliant on the exploits and underpays workers, most of whom are undocumented, as well as sub-par sanitation efforts. Ten years ago, I started learning about this and over time just couldn’t bring myself to eat something that cost someone their dignity– and also is just plain unsanitary. Living in NYC, I do have access to many more mindfully produced meat choices than are available in other cities, but I personally feel way healthier without it.

  65. I can’t eat meat simply because when I really think about it, I am killing an animal, taking it’s muscle, cooking it, and digesting it? No thanks.

    • Toby says...

      Agreed – I can’t eat an animal because I know it’s an animal! Smart and thoughtful kiddo in this video.

  66. Rochelle says...

    A life long vegetarian here. I grew up in a small town in California (Loma Linda, which happens to be the only “blue zone” in the U.S.) many people are vegetarian for religious purposes. As I’ve grown older, I tried meat a few times and couldn’t stomach it. My husband grew up eating all sorts of meat and now we are deciding what to do with our 7 month baby. I think I will let her choose if she wants to or not. I personally wish I could eat meat but it’s all in my head and it’s hard when you’re not used to it.

  67. Joy says...

    I’ve been a vegetarian for 29 years, since I was 12. I became a vegetarian because I can’t stand to see animals die for me to eat. I’ve never turned back. I believe that everybody’s life (people and animals) is precious.

  68. EM says...

    I am vegetarian for probably the least noble of reasons–because I was raised vegetarian and it’s what I’m used to. My father, for religious reasons, believes that eating vegetarian is healthier than eating meat, so strongly that for him it is a moral issue as to how he treats his body. I have friends who are vegetarian or vegan more for humane reasons–like the boy in the video, and/or for environmental reasons. I can appreciate the health reasons–I think non-vegetarians have to focus a little more on how to get enough fiber and veg in their diet, as well as limiting protein, than vegetarians necessarily do. I also appreciate the humanity of giving animals the best possible life, and dislike factory-farm conditions for animals. And I dislike the environmental waste that goes into large-scale animal raising productions. But I do know that people can eat meat (especially organically raised meat) and be healthy. And I believe animals can be raised and even slaughtered humanely and ethically (on a smaller scale). It’s just a flavor/texture thing for me. I can’t get past thinking about the animal’s anatomy while I’m eating it–so I’ve given up trying to eat meat. Works well, because I’m on a tight budget right now, and eating vegetarian saves money.

  69. Cathy says...

    Gosh, thanks so much for asking! I don’t usually talk about this, because I find it can be unsettling to people. But, I think for me it all came down to eliminating cognitive dissonance. Its hard to love animals and also to consciously do something that causes their pain and death. So, I chose the lifestyle that better matched my desire to be kind to animals. There are other, valid reasons to go veg, ecological, philosophical, and health-oriented, but the most important one for me is that it is an easy way to choose kindness in a world that is so often unkind.

    • ‘Cognitive dissonance’: Cathy, this is such an eloquent way of putting it. It was exactly my thought process when I stopped eating meat last year.

  70. Yes! Joanna you should listen to the This American Life episode where Ira interviews a women with 2 boys, one vegetarian and one not. It’s a short piece but so amazing… http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/516/stuck-in-the-middle

    I am a pescatarian (which I know is not a real thing but it’s a short way to explain I only eat fish in the meat category) and I think people should take more responsibility for what they eat on all fronts and especially meat. I think if people understood when they are eating a cheap hot dog they are supporting animal cruelty that it would make a difference. I believe strongly that people should be sourcing their meat carefully and eating meat sparingly for our environment. We vote every time we eat and I wish people would take that vote more seriously.

    • Yes! I love the kid from that episode of TAL :)

  71. So sweet.
    I am vegetarian. Basically for the same reasons as this kid. I had the realization a little older, though (9). Realized mid-dinner that I was eating a chicken – that had had feathers – and it grossed me out. Put down my fork and never looked back.

    • Love this!

  72. Ariel says...

    My husband has been vegan for 6 years. We’ve been together for 5. I’m not vegan, not even vegetarian. This video made me realize at some point I will have to explain to our now 7-month-old why “daddy doesn’t eat meat”. And I don’t know what I would do. How do I get my baby to eat anything then?

    I love animals too. But I love plants too. I don’t see the difference in eating meat and eating veggie/fruit. They are lives. They die when we eat them. The things we eat off them (meat, eggs, milk, leaves, fruits, roots, seeds) are meant for themselves, not for us. We farm them. We farm them all for our convenience. The only real difference is that plants/trees can’t say ouch when we cut them. But is that a good reason? If you pinch the next kid is it ok then if he/she can’t say ouch?

    How do someone ever explain this to a child? For me, I just think it is what we do as human race. We can’t not eat anything. So we better do something else good to make it up. My husband and I had this discussion many many times — that he believes in “non-harming”, but I think “non-harming” is not really possible as the humans we are, and pretending to be “non-harming” is fruitless. But again, I don’t think my baby would understand this point of view for many years, and I don’t want my kid to know the feeling of fruitlessness as long as possible.

    So what should I do? I don’t even mind to go vegetarian myself. I’m a good vegan cook and baker, too, because my husband likes his food. But I can’t in good conscience go vegetarian and tell my kid that’s all the non-harming there is. And what happens when my kid ask me one day “Are plants alive”?

    • Cait says...

      Ariel,

      The difference is that plants do not have brains, do not have pain receptors so it’s not that they just can’t say ouch – they don’t feel it. An animal knows when it is about to be slaughtered, corn does not know when it is about to be harvested. A lot of people are also bothered by the treatment of animals before they are killed – plants can’t really be abused in the same way.

    • Sarah says...

      It’s also worth mentioning that by harvesting and growing crops for food, many animals die or lose their habitats. Field mice get killed by combine harvesters every day, pesticides are used to kill insects that feed on crops… so unless you only grow 100% of your food in your own garden totally organically and you harvest it and make it into food yourself then there’s no way you can truly eat without causing the death and pain of other living things. That’s unfortunately the reality of survival on this planet. I absolutely think that we must be as ethical as possible in how we treat each other, our food, our planet. I try my best to eat organic, locally-sourced, ethical food, but I cannot eliminate my effect on the world.

    • elle_dee_em says...

      You can’t seriously compare animals to plants.

      While plants are alive, they don’t have “lives”. They do not have sensory organs and are not cognitive; they don’t see/think, and they don’t “die”.

      Animals do.

      Plants do not have conscious perception and don’t say “ouch” because they don’t have pain receptors, therefore they cannot feel pain.

      Does a peach know it’s being harvested from a tree and feel scared? No.
      Does it feel pain when it’s being “killed” (aka eaten)? No.
      Animals, on the other hand, do. Just as we do.

      Also, unlike meat, we don’t farm produce “for convenience”, we grow and harvest produce to stay alive. Eating plants isn’t exclusive to vegetarians; while you can easily survive without meat, you can’t without plants.

      Before you try to explain to your child why you eat meat but your husband chooses not to, you might want to take the time to understand what plants actually are, and how plants actually function:

      http://www.mcwdn.org/Plants/PlantsDiffer.html
      http://veganrabbit.com/2013/03/18/plant-sentience-and-pain/

    • Ariel says...

      Thanks CAIT for the reply. It’s a good way to explain.
      However, I don’t know it’s true. I think plants do feel pain — I saw a short film about this at a NYC museum, can’t remember which — they just, hmmm, function on a much slower pace than the moving around living beings, and/or they “feel” in other ways instead of having neuron cells, that it’s really hard for us to detect their feeling. But they do have them. I remember seeing this and thinking to my self “Gs that’s just terrible”. My husband and I then had this discussion about how much that we actually benefit extra from their slower pace of life and decay. Veggies stay “alive” longer after they’ve been cut — they react slowly they don’t die right away — so when we eat them we get their fresher nutritions compares to the meat that’s been dead already. Unfortunately that might be part of the reason why they are better for our health …

      I think I saw a research article about plants feeling pain a while ago and just trying to look it up to show here. Couldn’t find it but if you google plants feel pain there are plenty plenty out there.

  73. That’s so sweet.
    I personally am not a vegetarian (though my family jokes that I might as well be because I usually only eat chicken or turkey), but I totally understand and respect people who are.

    Kristi | Be Loverly

  74. Thank you for sharing this video – I hope it becomes one of the most watched videos of all time – As a vegan I so appreciate the simplicity, innocence and of course! matter-of-factness of the boy and this video .

    Several contributors on our site are contemplating, experimenting and learning about animal rights, factory farming and what eating vegetarianism is like, such a great thing to be able to forward on and show how simple it really is. Suffering vs non-suffering. It’s really that simple.

    Thanks! Great post!

  75. This is a personal decision for everyone, but the more you know about agro-business and corporate farming, the scarier it becomes and the more it becomes an major environmental issue whereby our personal choices play a larger role in the health of not only ourselves, but for all living beings around the world. I became vegetarian when I was 13. Even though my grandparents operated a farm-fed beef cattle farm, I knew from a young age that I didn’t love the taste of meat. After 10 years as a strict vegetarian, I decided to try some fresh fish one night and rediscovered my love for fish and shellfish. I’ve now been pescetarian for almost 15 years, but I doubt I’ll ever choose to incorporate any other meats into my diet. It’s mostly by driven by preference/taste/health, but I know I would also have some major ethical dilemmas eating meat. I really make every effort to buy sustainably sourced fish, but as the oceans become more and more overfished, I struggle with this decision and wonder if I should revert back to being a full vegetarian.

  76. Joanna, you’re killing me with this adorable boy!! We are an omnivorous household (1 husband, 2 kids). My husband would eat meat for breakfast lunch dinner. I do my best to cook vegetarian meals that satisfy everyone about half of the week. Sustainable/organic always or I don’t buy it. (Our food bill is staggering in comparison to our income.) I ease up when we go out to eat and just eat to enjoy. After all, we’re humans. Wild animals eat each other so the ethics don’t bother me except when humans are cruel to animals in the process of raising them for meat. Sounds contradictory, perhaps. Also, if my kids decide they’re vegan one day, that’s ok by me. A healthy balanced diet is not one size fits all.

  77. Awads says...

    My son, at 5: “do pigs give us bacon?”
    Me: well, i wouldn’t say “give”….

    We are omnivores. No food rules, other than healthy, whole foods most of the time. I want my kid to enjoy a balanced life and make his own choices when he’s mature enough (and can do his own food prep). Cheers!

  78. Another vegetarian over here :) After watching Forks Over Knives when it was released a few years ago, I quit meat and dairy cold turkey (forgive the pun). From there I continued my research on the correlations between meat and cancer, heart disease, climate change, etc. and then on to animal cruelty documentaries and papers. My reasoning evolved from one of health and science to morals, so there is truly no going back for me now. I feel better in every way. <3

  79. gina says...

    vegetarian for just over 2 years now and i stopped eating meat for health issues. i LOVE being a vegetarian!

  80. Daniela says...

    I’ve been vegan and vegetarian on and off for years but finally decided flexitarianism is best for me, and it is what my boyfriend is as well. I eat plant based 99% of the time and can’t handle meat, but if I ever want an animal product I allow myself to eat it. It works out very well and for the most part I eat produce and plant protein :)

  81. Kalli says...

    Thanks for sharing. I have the same reasoning as that sweet kid. There are so many ways to eat a healthy diet without killing animals.

  82. Leona says...

    My husband and I have been vegetarian for the past year. It simply didn’t feel right to eat animals anymore, knowing that they are thinking, feeling beings. And after learning so much about meat agriculture in North America it was even easier to embrace a meat-free lifestyle. We have a 1.5 year old son and often discuss if he should be a vegetarian. We have decided that it’s important to try a variety of food, learn texture and flavour. So if he’s at grandma and grandpas, he may have some meat, but because we don’t cook it, he doesn’t eat it at home. I hope he embraces our lifestyle long-term, but ultimately, it’s his choice.

  83. Such a sweetie! What a thoughtful little boy!

  84. Christy says...

    Children are so thoughtful and smart – they do beautiful things all the time and can explain the heart of an issue with confidence and clarity. My husband and I are both vegetarian and are raising our children to not eat meat. If they choose to try it later, then that will be their choice. Thanks for sharing this video!

  85. Gail says...

    Hmmm. After 40 years of eating a primarily vegetarian diet, I’m finally in full recovery from what I look back and consider an eating disorder. I became a vegetarian at age 17, then vegan, then raw foodist, then macrobiotic. I researched assiduously, brought my daughters up as macrobiotic–lots of grain, organic veggies, seaweed, limited fish. Along the way I lost my bone strength & many teeth, even with adequate supplementation. I now eat a primal/ancestral diet in keeping with my ancestry & living in a 4-season climate with very cold winters. I’ll probably be lambasted for posting this, but want to put it out as a cautionary tale. No vegan society has ever successfully reproduced beyond a single generation. We are omnivores.

    I also think the adorable video was prompted by the parents, & isn’t as innocent as it appears.

    • Hannah says...

      I’m so grateful for you posting this additional viewpoint. In my teens I made the decision to become vegetarian after reading a sensationalist book regarding the dangers of eating meat.
      I adhered strictly to a ‘balanced’ vegetarian diet high in plant-based protein, and over the course of 3 years my health completely destabilized. I gained 50 lbs, my hormones went berserk, and I lost a great deal of muscle tone and strength. It took almost two years to repair the damage to my metabolism. Our bodies and diets are not one size fits all. It’s important to be mindful about what we consume, and consider the impact of our choices. I recognize as valid all the concerns represented here with regard to the meat industry and welfare of animals; a problem with the system does not, however, change our biology. It indicates a need to return to more humane practices and fewer steps between what’s produced and what’s consumed.

    • Mary says...

      I also found that going on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (similar to the primal ancestral diet) to be very healing for Crohn’s Disease. I think different diets suit different people.

  86. This video is so touching.
    My son eats mostly vegetables and fruits ever since he could talk and express himself. He tells us that he doesn’t want to eat anything that makes sounds.

  87. Christine says...

    Wow, reading all of these comments is so inspiring. What a kind, loving group of readers!! My fiance and I are both vegetarian for the same reasons as the little boy, as well as for our health and the future of this planet. We both love food, eating out, cooking, all of the normal things and rarely run into a single issue, New York makes it SO EASY to stop eating animals. I highly recommend the work of Kathy Freston if you are interested in exploring further!! xo

  88. Lindsay says...

    I love this video. My family’s motivation to be vegan stems from our love of animals and reducing our environmental footprint. We also feel extremely healthy and have more energy eating a plant-based diet. I have a 1.5 year old son and I think this will inspire him to be compassionate. I think it’s important for children, whether vegetarian or not, to understand where food comes from and how it gets to their plate.

  89. Colleen says...

    My sister used to name the frozen chickens my mom would bring home to make in the rotisserie machine, and then she couldn’t eat them because it was “Francie” or whatever. She was a vegetarian for several years much to my dad’s annoyance, and is mulling whether to do it again. As of right now, she doesn’t eat red meat or fish. I was a vegetarian until I entered high school and began eating In-N-Out on a regular basis.

  90. Beth says...

    I was raised vegetarian since my parents were vegetarians, but started eating meat when I was 17 (I was a great student and well-behaved, so this was my form of teenage rebellion when my parents divorced). I remember being bullied quite a bit when I was a kid and constantly being challenged about it. The funny thing was that most people assumed that I was super healthy, but in reality, my diet was mostly carbs and dairy. Typical dinner for my brother and I was spaghetti with marinara or Kraft macaroni, sometimes with a small salad. Other times, it was breakfast for dinner or Oriental flavor Top Ramen. Not the best route for a kid.

    Deciding to eat meat has not only expanded my food options in the 10 years since, but has brought my family closer together, as my mom and brother decided to make the switch with me. I am an adventurous eater and definitely wouldn’t be if I were still a vegetarian since I would be more concerned with what the ingredients are. While the vegetarian/vegan meat substitute market has grown by leaps and bounds since I was a kid, there is no substitute for a perfectly cooked steak or a Baja fish taco. I am terrible at cooking meat and make most meals without it by default (my husband is the meat-cooker). I still have a few hard passes, such as veal, and eat tofu on a regular basis, but having the option to choose what I eat (and if I don’t eat it, WHY I don’t eat it…not just because “I can’t”) has been a huge boost for my self-esteem. I plan to raise my future kids as omnivores, but should they choose to go vegetarian, I’ll support them wholeheartedly.

    • Ariel says...

      I have to second this. I really don’t think I can make this decision for my kids. And I don’t think my husband should either — as open mined vegan as he is — he has been supporting my non-vegan eating preferences as much as I’ve been supporting his vegan ones. I learned vegan baking with all the substitutes for his, because he’s gotten a sweet tooth and it’s harder to buy vegan bakery than to buy vegan food. And when I was pregnant and just wanted meat all the time — gosh not any more — he went meat places with me all the time. I really think food needs to be a way we love each other, not a way we debate world views against each other.

      Also, I have to agree with you that it’s not easy to have a healthy vegan diet. Typically, if one’s not careful and willing to shop and cook, there are lots carbs to be had. Many of my husband’s business dinners out in “regular” restaurants only have fries and pasta to offer him. That’s unfortunate. The protein part of the vegan diet can take destination shopping and special prep, especially if one doesn’t want to eat soy all the time. For as many vegan recipes I’ve saved up and as many vegan cook books we have, it’s gotten easier but still quite some work to maintain a balanced diet.

  91. I love that kid! I have been vegan for almost 3 years and I changed my diet for different reasons. I adopted two beautiful cats and developed a super strong connection with them and their feelings, then something clicked in my head and started to wondered why we treat so bad other animals, and why we eat them :O, it was eye opening.

    Becoming vegan was a real challenge but also an opportunity to take care of myself better, to do more research about what are we eating, to be more creative, we just don’t eat salads ;), there is a whole world of flavors to be discovered and that gets me really excited.

  92. Angela says...

    I became a vegan about two years ago. I feel so much better the way I eat now. I never knew I felt like shit so much of the time until my energy shot through the roof and I started feeling like I wanted to do front handsprings down the hallway at work (naturally with no caffeine or anything else, haha). It’s very easy to have an “ignorance is bliss” mentality, and not think about all the animals that suffer and die for us. I used to be guilty of this. Now I look at meat and associate it with a living animal and I just can’t. If I was in a situation where I needed it for survival, yes I’d eat it. But I’m perfectly happy eating lots of fruit, veggies, grains, tofu, and beans. I don’t miss my old diet in the slightest and actually get to eat a lot MORE now, before I always felt restricted.

  93. jill c. says...

    i saw this video a bit back and it really is so sweet. my mom was a vegetarian but didn’t force it upon my sister and i growing up. she occassionally made meals with meat but it was never a focus in our eating. i became a vegetarian around the age of 12 but made it a gradual process over the course of a couple of years. at home my 3 year old son LOVES meat (especially bacon) but my daugter (age 5) is practically a vegetarian as well. i’ve never talked to my kids about myself not eating meat as I don’t want to influence them (although i’m sure they have observed me not eating meat and picked up on it). we do talk about where our food comes from and how it’s important to get food that is organic (when possible) and or treated humanely etc… I figure at some point they’ll decide what works for them just as i was allowed to decide what worked for me.

  94. Gabriella says...

    One of my favorite videos–so touching!

  95. Love this. I’ve been vegetarian since the age if 8 (I’m now 33) and though I can’t remember exactly why I stopped eating meat, the thought still just grosses me out for lack of a better explanation! As my grandfather used to say about my diet, “Nothing that ever had eyes, except potatoes.” :)

  96. 13 year old Lila Copeland has an excellent “Free Guide for Young People Going Vegan” on her Earth Peace Foundation web site:
    http://www.earthpeacefoundation.org/

    Also on the Earth Peace Foundation web site, there is a video in which Lila tells Al Gore: “NO MEAT AT LIVE EARTH.”

    If y’all haven’t seen the movie “COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret” yet, I think you’ll enjoy it.
    http://www.cowspiracy.com/

    “Cowspiracy may be the most important film made to inspire saving the planet.”
    — Louie Psihoyos, Oscar-Winning Director of “The Cove”

    “A documentary that will rock and inspire the environmental movement.”

    — Darren Aronofsky, Director of “Noah” and “Black Swan”

  97. claire says...

    Love this video! I have been a vegetarian for almost three years. Initially I made the change for the health benefits–I wanted to eat a more plant-based diet in order to feel better, sleep better, and have more energy. Over the past two years, however, it’s become a lot more than that. My main reasons today are environmental and ethical–if I can reduce the suffering of another living thing and I have access to ingredients and recipes that make a vegetarian lifestyle possible, then why not? I cook more, I eat more fruits and vegetables, and I feel better about the choices I make every day. Truly a life changing decision…for me and for a few pigs, cows, and chickens!

  98. Inbal says...

    I’m vegan because I love animals. I think eating animals is immoral, especially if you consider yourself an animal lover.

  99. Katy L says...

    I think it’s very natural for kids to not want to consume the animals they’ve seen in picture books, petting zoos, etc. all their lives. It makes no more logical sense than telling them “Hey, eat this cute dog!” I’m vegetarian and have been for more than a decade due to the cruelty of the industry and the environmental havoc it creates. My husband is not and we have 2 kids, who both have chosen not to partake in meat when we told them factually what it was. If they change their minds, ok, but they’re happy and very healthy.

    • I agree! It’s natural, and in my opinion very sweet and endearing.

      My cousin is struggling with when/how to tell her 3 year old son that the food he’s eating is the same as the animals he sees in books or at farms. Although fish and chicken have the same name in both cases, she’s not sure he’s connected the dots. How did you do this with your kids? Or did it happen organically?

    • Katy L says...

      My kids are 5 and 3. We’ve been around meat-eaters in our families, so they’ve seen it. At certain points they asked, “What’s that?” and we told them. “That’s hamburger. It is from a dead cow….that’s a chicken nugget, it is cooked chicken.” They tend to ask some follow-up questions and then say “Ew” or something along those lines. I have said “Do you want to try it,” and they always look horrified. It’s been pretty easy to have conversations, happened pretty organically. I’m not going to show them PETA videos or anything. Compassion is so innate in children, it’s been fascinating to see the conclusions they draw. For instance, they both like eating crab and it doesn’t bother them. But that is the only thing they’ve wanted to try. Who knows as they get older!?

  100. Mary says...

    I was that child! I have been a vegetarian since high school but I am always hearing childhood stories about how I wouldn’t eat turkey at Christmas and would refuse anything easily identifiable that was an animal and would cry when I made the connection that the animal on the plate was once alive, and ask my mother endless questions of WHY??!! My mother and father were huge meat eaters so this was a shock to them. I became vegetarian because I love animals, and the thought of them being slaughtered (often cruelly and after living in inhumane conditions) so I could chose something on the menu that was tasty, was not something I could deal with.

  101. Joanna!
    My husband and I went vegan two years ago – to a rave reaction from our bodies. (Glowy skin, high energy, weight loss.) Both of our doctors are amazed by our test results at each visit. (Plus, why be a part of a system that is painful to millions of creatures, and destructive of the planet?)
    So proud that you shared the beautiful clip! He is a peach.
    xx Jane

  102. I’m a vegetarian born and raised. My parents became vegetarian 30+ years ago because they wanted to live a non-violent lifestyle and felt it was impossible to do so while eating meat. For me, meat isn’t even really a food group – as in, I don’t eat rocks nor do I eat meat. Still, I’m a vegetarian for ethical, environmental, and health reasons. My husband is now a vegetarian and I have every intention of raising my future children vegetarian as well.

  103. Traxcy says...

    I like animals standing up as well. I have been a vegetarian for over a decade and I have enjoyed living my life without eating meat. I cook it for my husband and anyone else because they have a right to eat the things they enjoy without my judgment or disdain. I love animals like this kid does and just like to see them alive rather than on my plate.

  104. Amrita says...

    This reminds me of a This American Life episode I recently listed to and highly recommend!
    “Rachel has two kids. Elias, age seven, is a vegetarian. Theo, age five, is not. But Elias wants Theo, and everyone else in the house, to be vegetarian too. So Rachel and her husband are in the middle of negotiating the desires of two very strong willed kids.” http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/516/stuck-in-the-middle

    • Heard the This American Life episode too! And I second your recommendation; great episode!

      XX LAURA
      lovelylaurels.com

  105. Beth says...

    Yep, been a vegetarian for 13 years now, with only positive health effects. I get tons of protein from beans, quinoa, nuts, seeds, tofu and tempeh … so I’ve maintained a really athletic, active lifestyle without any animals dying in the process. I just have too hard of a time with the environmental impacts of meat production in our country, let alone the inhumanity of it. I’m happier with my plate of yummy veggies, and I think the world is happier too.

  106. Jennifer says...

    I just went on my second Engine 2 (Rip Esselstyn) retreat and I think it is sticking this time around. It’s a plant based diet and pretty extreme, but I’m feeling pretty amazing. Best sleep ever, alert all day, and overall great mood. I haven’t been HANGRY once in 3.5 weeks and I’m down nearly 10lbs. It is a lifestyle change, but if it will save me from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other ailments, I’m really choosing to live.

  107. My husband and I became vegetarian about 2 years ago, and we say it”s because of the trifecta: ethics, environment and health. There’s no need for us to eat meat in this country—it’s simple to get the nutrients our bodies need without killing animals, so why do it? We really haven’t missed it at all!

  108. This child is so well spoken for a three year old–he melted my heart. He confirmed my belief in why I’m a vegetarian! xo

    (=’.’=)
    -Lauren
    adorn la femme

  109. mosey says...

    I saw this a while ago and thought it was really sweet. Also thought his mum might have something to do with the things he’s saying though… I became vegetarian at 14 and have been ever since. I just don’t want to eat animals. Now that I have a 2 year old, I’m thinking of how to go about this issue with him. I want him to make up his own mind about it all, but I don’t want to cook meat at home. Right now he eats a varied vegetarian diet, plus fish (mainly in the form of canned sardines), and I feel good about that.

    • EM says...

      Sounds like your son’s diet is pescatarian. A lot of vegetarians find it annoying or even offensive when someone identifies as a vegetarian, but with caveats like “I still eat fish,” or “except chicken,” or things like that. I still love it when people focus on eating more like a vegetarian, even if they still include some limited amount/type of animal protein, because I do think that it tends to be a healthier and more ethical way to eat. But using the correct terminology can be seen as more tactful or truthful.

  110. I chose to become a vegetarian when I was 7 and have been vegan for 2 years. All for animals’ rights. I gave up dairy when my friends began getting pregnant, and I realized that mother cows are forcibly impregnated in order to produce milk. Then they’re strapped to a milking machine for all of their lives, and are slaughtered when they’re no longer useful. Their babies are taken away from them the moment they’re born and turned to veal. Such an evil and disgusting industry, all of it. I will never consume another animal product again as long as I live. Try watching the documentary “Earthlings” and see how you feel.

  111. MBStrong says...

    His sweet and innocent reasoning makes sense…
    I eat sustainable seafood, no dairy, no meat and only very good quality eggs from the farmers market. At home I cook 99% vegan for my husband and I. My choice to eliminate meat and dairy began for health purposes (I have IBS and acid reflux – BLAH). Over the years it has become more of an ethical choice. It has been a mix of understanding the unfortunate reality of how our food is processed and the ongoing science of why plant based eating is the way to go. I am more energized and my body responds beautifully to cleaner eating. Its interesting because lately I have started to think of how I will go about raising my future children and how I will guide them into the wonderful world of food. My husband was raised a vegetarian and at the age of 12 decided he wanted to eat meat. I am curious how vegetarian parents go about this with their own little ones.
    Bravo to this little man for making such a choice!

  112. Rachel says...

    This is one of my favourite videos of all time. I’m a vegetarian because I believe that every animal has a soul and I don’t believe in taking life when it’s not necessary.

  113. Isahrai says...

    I am raising my 3 year old as a vegan for moral reasons. I was vegetarian for 2 decades and would only eat cheese/milk/eggs that came from a local farmer but when my daughter was born, I couldn’t expect her to understand “we only eat *happy* eggs” so made the choice to become strict vegans. (Luckily I love cooking so we eat a very wide range of meals and even my omnivore friends ask me to make them my almond-“goat”-cheese, vegan cakes and coconut yogurt.) I just can’t imagine raising her to think that factory farming for our convenience is anything but cruel. We frame our beliefs in simplistic terms – “animals are our friends and we don’t eat our friends or steal their milk”…. I’m sure she will rebel, question, maybe even discard these beliefs but for now, I find our conversations about veganism to be so enlightening, both for her and for me. She applies the compassion that veganism teaches her to so many other aspects of her life – her preschool teachers tell me her empathy is a blessing and a curse because she is almost obsessed with making sure everyone is okay, happy, taken care of. She has made such an impact from sharing her food and enthusiasm at lunch that I have been hired by the parents of the school to cater our end of the year party. That’s 40 families – none of whom are even vegetarian… no pressure!

  114. Samantha says...

    I became a vegetarian almost 10 years ago when I was 16. I had never really thought about what eating meat truly meant until then, but when I did I couldn’t bring myself to eat another bite. It devastates me to think that I used to eat these sweet, helpless creatures that think, feel, and love just like us.

  115. My husband went vegetarian at 3 years old when he realized his favorite animal (cow) was on the dinner table. His meat-eating parents were like what do we do with this child, but were very respective of his choices. He’s 30 years old now, and still a vegetarian!

    Her Heartland Soul
    http://herheartlandsoul.com

  116. Anitra Sweet says...

    I was vegan for almost a year and loved it! This little kid is just adorable!

  117. I love this video. The little boy reminds me so much of our eldest, who is similarly clear about why he doesn’t eat meat. My husband has been a vegetarian all his life and when we started talking about how we would do things, i found that I didn’t really have any good arguments in favour of my non-veg diet. We are raising our three children vegetarian and I feel so good about it.
    Funny story: a friend’s son was telling us about a kid in his first grade class: “he doesn’t eat meat. He’s a veterinarian.”
    wwww.minipiccolini.com

  118. JUliette says...

    I teared up at the end too… It’s a hard one to explain to children… Be gentle, don’t hurt animals, but eat them up! My 4 year old recenty asked if the chicken could feel being cut up in her plate, if we were hurting it… Makes you stop and think.

  119. Jimena says...

    I am a vegetarian, for the same reasons as this little boy. The environmental ones too, but they’re secondary. My yoga teacher once said that when you feel empathy for animals and their suffering you wouldn’t want to harm them anymore, that it wouldn’t be a struggle if you identify with them and see them as sentient beings who are being killed for food. That stuck with me, although it’s not so easy all the time, it always feels wrong to eat animals.

  120. Hannah says...

    Reminds me so much of my sister. When she was 4 or 5 she started asking our parents if the chicken we were having for dinner was the same as a chicken on a farm. From then on she would ask, “Did this used to be alive?” before dinner and if the answer was “yes,” (my parents never lied, which I now find incredibly patient of them) she wouldn’t eat it. Been that way for 18 years now.

  121. Summer says...

    It is a cute video, but…Idk…it seems like he’s proooobably heard some of this from his parents versus it being his genuine thoughts (as is normal with kids and the reason I cried when Bill Clinton won in ’92, ha). Still very sweet though. :)

  122. Laura says...

    Very touching! I’m a vegetarian because of the massive environmental impact of raising livestock and growing the food to feed the livestock. I connected with the quote, “You cannot call yourself a true environmentalist and still eat animals.” So essentially it’s just a really powerfully-positive choice one person could make. But that’s just me :)

  123. Katie says...

    This is going to sound hippie dippy but it’s my reason-it’s my walking meditation for peace. When I was in college, my cousin became a soldier and went to war. I wanted to do something that was as big and as everyday. It’s the whole Ghandi quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Since then my vegetarianism has just solved so many things in my life. It makes me feel healthy and strong in both a physical and spiritual way and answered a lot of questions for me about how to treat myself, others and the world.

    • Isahrai says...

      Such a beautiful way to frame your way of living. It is so true that being so aware of what is going into your body affects so many other aspects of your life! I will bring that Ghandi quote to mind when people ask me why I think that my little family of 2 vegans will affect anything besides our dinner table. Thank you for sharing.

  124. Love this video. I only recently became a vegetarian. So much of my life revolves around animal advocacy but I continued to eat meat for so long under the excuse “humans are omnivores- we’re supposed to eat meat!” and tried to reconcile that with only purchasing humanely sourced meat. Then a few months back I was eating a burger and just felt really awful, like my actions were not at all in alignment with my thoughts. After that it became really easy to stop eating meat.

    • Take it a step further and go vegan. Watch Earthlings documentary and you’ll never need another bit of motivation.

  125. Zoe says...

    So honest! Straight from a child’s heart. I totally teared up!

  126. Claire says...

    Wow, he just says it so right. And he’s so young!
    Thanks for sharing.

  127. Sara says...

    I’m vegetarian. It started for environmental reasons, and that is still my main reason, but throughout my adult life I’ve seen many other areas of my life benefit: my health, my budget, my time. Eating well is a bit easier, and I think any way that people can use to avoid falling into the fast food/takeout rut is a good move.

  128. Our children are still so young that we control their diet and are currently raising them as vegetarians. I suspect they’ll waiver a few times while growing up and ultimately make their own choice to stick with it. I think it’s important that they figure out what works for them and how they want to eat. I wrote a post about it a little while ago that you can find here:

    http://aforeverhouse.blogspot.com/2013/02/my-vegetarian-children.html