Where Does Meat Come From?: How to Answer Your Child’s Questions

“Mom, where does meat come from?” Have you ever had your child ask this question about the beef, chicken, or pork on their plate? Finding out where meat comes from is normal for kids but it can be really difficult for adults to explain. Do your kids know where their food comes from? They should!

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Child looking at burger with text Where Does Meat Come From? Teaching Your Kids About Food

How do you explain meat to a child?

When I tell people that my kids have been to a slaughter house they look at me like I’m insane. (It was empty except for a couple deer carcasses in the refrigerator and spotlessly clean….) However, from the time my children were incredibly young, I answered their ‘ where does meat come from ?’ questions quite honestly.

They have been coming with me to the farm for meat pickups since they were young and know that the animals we see there will eventually end up on our plates. You might think that’s harsh but too many children today are disconnected from the food on their plates.

In fact, many ADULTS should start asking themselves ‘ where does meat come from ?’ and maybe they would make different choices when it comes to their diet. If you aren’t sure how to reply to your child when they ask you about the steak you are serving for dinner, here are a few tips. I will also share an interesting study out of Australia about talking to your children about this delicate topic.

trays of meat on a table with text where does meat come from

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Where Does Meat Come From?

Need a quick primer on where food comes from for kids?  Here is a short parents’ guide to answering their child’s questions about eating meat. 

Be honest without going into too much detail:  

Like questions about sex, you need to give some thought as to how much detail you need to provide when answering questions. You can tell them that steak comes from cows without explaining the slaughtering process in detail. Unless they ask for specifics, you really don’t need to provide a step by step commentary.

girl in grass with several ducklings

Give them space to make up their own minds:  

Most likely, if your child asks ‘ where does meat come from ?’ they are old enough to start questioning the world around them. That means they are also old enough to develop their own opinions. Try to stick to the facts and let them make up their own minds about the answers you provide.

Be accepting if they choose to not eat meat for a while:  

Kids are going to develop their own opinions and they may not always be the same as yours. If they choose to avoid meat for a while, don’t force the issue. You can educate them on vegetarian diets with the book Living on the Veg: A kids’ guide to life without meat.

However, explain to them that our bodies have certain nutritional needs and those have to be met with other foods if they choose to skip the animal based protein. Offer non-animal based protein sources like beans and tofu or animal based ‘non-meat’ items like eggs and dairy. Check out sources like the Mayo Clinic for information on proper childhood nutrition. 

bowl of Asian Quinoa Recipe with Broccoli and Tofu on white table with fork

Rethink your family’s dietary choices:  

Choosing LESS meat as a family is a great way to eat healthier and reduce your carbon footprint. Buying grass fed beef and pasture raised pork ensures that the animals lived a higher-quality life and were treated with respect before they ended up on your table. Try my Asian Quinoa Recipe with Broccoli and Tofu for dinner one night. 

child and adult grilling meat together

Teach Kids About Where Food Comes From!

Making these choices and discussing them with your child lets them see that you have compassion and respect for the animals that provided you with dinner. Talking to children about where meat comes from is not going to scar them for life. Children raised on farms learn at a very young age that animals are raised for food. Has your child ever asked ‘Where does meat come from?’

8 thoughts on “Where Does Meat Come From?: How to Answer Your Child’s Questions”

  1. Dont remember my children asking where meat came from, but then again I was big on taking my children to the animal farm where they would feed the goats etc. I remember telling them that milk comes from cows and not the supermarket. I also encouraged reading books about life in general and other cultures. But working in a school reminds me that many city kids do not have any idea about where we get the food we eat. They naturally assume that the food is in the store and that is where it comes from….great blog.

    • Glad you found the post engaging. I remember a Jamie Oliver segment on TV asking city kids where butter came from and most thought it came from corn (since most bought margarine and they have corn ears on the front….). I found it very sad how disconnected they were to their food.

  2. Ah, yes the old where does meat come from question. I guess someone who grew up on a farm, a hunter’s kid, or a butchers child may not have as many questions — but it can be a touchy subject for those who aren’t exposed to the circle of life, their whole childhood. Great advice!

  3. My kids have never asked, but I think about it every day. I grew up in the south, so I know all about farming. I used to never think twice about the lives of the animals on my plate. Thanks to YouTube, I’ve learned that cows and pigs and even chickens are more than mindless drones waiting to be devoured. I’ve been research going vegan lately, and I think I’m just about ready to do it.

    • We have discussed becoming vegetarian but just not sure I am ready to commit. We are very careful about where we purchase our meat/eggs/dairy from and try to find non-animal sources for meals when possible.


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