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

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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.

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Where Does Meat Come From?

A Parents Guide to Answering their Child’s Questions

Where does meat come from A parent's guide to answering their child's questions

 

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.

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. 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.

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. 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. If you want more information about talking to your child when they ask ‘ where does meat come from ?’ Dr Heather Bray and her colleagues at the University of Adelaide recently published a study investigating how farm animal production is discussed in Australian households.

Has your child ever asked ‘Where does meat come from?’

 

 

 

Comments

  1. This is great advice. It is a tough subject for kids and parents may be caught off guard. Thanks for this.
  2. 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.
  3. That sounds logical for children that are asking. We are big meat eaters. I never asked, my parents told me. My kids never asked, I told my oldest.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. i try to be as honest as possible as well and keep it simple.

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