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Where does meat come from?

(23 Posts)
gillybob Thu 11-Apr-13 10:28:30

My three grandchildren are huge animal lovers and spend almost all of their spare time at their local stables. Both girls (7 and 5) are confident riders and have been riding since being able to sit up. The eldest spends most of her waking hours either with animals or "finding out about them" neither girls have ever been huge meat eaters as prefer vegetables. Last weekend we visited a petting farm not far from where we live and the girls were feeding a huge turkey through the fence when the little one commented "grandma is this the same as the turkey we have on our Christmas dinner?" Much to my shame I avoided the answer and quickly moved on. On the way home in the car the eldest asked "grandma what is meat, is it animals that have died?"
She then went on to declare that she was never going to eat "dead animal" again and her sister agreed followed by their little brother (3) who said "me no like dead ammimmals eeva".

I knew this day would come, I jut thought it would be a few years away yet. Has anyone got any experience of this? I would appreciate your views. confused

FlicketyB Thu 11-Apr-13 11:40:52

Our grandchildren, 2 & 5, love animals, but the eldest also understands we eat them and that the animals they see in a field will later end up on someone's plate, possibly theirs. We have never laboured the point, but nor have we ever avoided it. Generally we have found it much simpler to discuss issues like this when they arise rather than avoid them or shelter the children. In the same way we discuss the premature deaths of members of our family, deaths that happened before DGC were born but where there are photographs of the deceased in prominent places in our homes and who are still regularly referred to in conversation.

Yesterday we all visited the Museum of Rural Life in Reading. There were pictures of animals on the wall and in the context of the museum the discussion arose, those cute lambs in the photograph ended up on someone's dinner plate. It came up only in passing and then we moved on to whether we could see anymore of the little grey rats that were scattered around the museum in the most unexpected places waiting to be found by an eagle eyed child.

Bags Thu 11-Apr-13 11:49:20

We dealt with that issue by getting a pair of geese. The idea was that they breed "edible lawn-mowers" (goslings eat a lot of grass). It didn't work out – long story – but the knowledge of what meat is got through.

We also ate some of our chickens. Snatched one back from a fox and ate it ourselves, and we killed and ate the surplus cockerels.

I like Billie Wright's comment about prey and preyed upon, as applied in the arctic, where there isn't much food of vegetable origin so people have to eat 'processed vegetation' in the form of fresh meat:
"[the hunter] knows the instant for and of the kill, and he knows sacredness, acknowledgement, the interchangeability of himself and his prey."

Mishap Thu 11-Apr-13 11:52:32

My DGSs have been watching lambs born in their field. Older one (4) knows about the next step in the fullness of time; his Dad is very blunt about it. I guess he will take it in his stride.

None of my children became vegetarians - they knew the score form a young age, but as we live in a rural community in a farming area it was part of everyday life.

gillybob Thu 11-Apr-13 12:47:37

Thank you for your responses. I am absolutely sure that my grandaughters will become vegetarian (at some point) and I think that once the older one realises that "meat" on her plate is infact the cow she saw yesterday (type of thing) she will feel dreadfully sad and let down. As I said in my opening post they are not great meat eaters anyway.

I remember when my first GD was born it was March and the new born lambs were in the field wearing their little plastic carrier bags to keep them warm. i felt terribly sad that these poor newborns wouldn't live to see their first birthday and so vowed never to eat lamb again and I haven't for over 7 years.

Bags Thu 11-Apr-13 12:50:30

Whereas I just think "mint sauce". Often bleat it too. You should see them run! wink

Which doesn't mean that I don't love animals too. But I'm more of the eat or be eaten tribe. To me, animal life is no more important than vegetable life, so my emotions about what is food or isn't food run alongside that accordingly.

gillybob Thu 11-Apr-13 12:52:59

Eat or be eaten Bags are you saying if you don't eat "it"... "it" will eat you?


Bags Thu 11-Apr-13 12:57:57

Some things would, yes, given half a chance. Most bears, for instance, and large cats.

Bags Thu 11-Apr-13 13:00:28

But hippopotamuses (vegetarians through and through) are far more dangerous and kill far more people than the top carnivores.

I forgot crocodiles and alligators. They'd eat me too.

gracesmum Thu 11-Apr-13 13:08:31

Shouting "mint sauce" probably constitutes sheep worrying , Bag, take care the farmer doesn't shoot you! grin (I'd certainly be worried if I were a lamb!)

gillybob Thu 11-Apr-13 13:10:48

Yeah Bags but how many bears, hippos or crocs do you see in the field across the road? grin

NfkDumpling Thu 11-Apr-13 13:22:30

I went to a petting farm last week with my 2 DDs and three DGDs - 4, 3 and 18 months. A chap gave a very informative and down to earth talk about sheep and two eldest were quite happy with the fact that the lambs they were feeding would be somebody's dinner by the end of the summer. They also knew exactly what fate was in store for the chickens and turkeys. One DD is vegetarian but she is determined that her DD will make her own mind up and concentrates more on animal welfare.

FlicketyB Thu 11-Apr-13 13:57:31

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall discusses the ethics of eating meat in his book 'The River Cottage Meat Book'. The whole of the first chapter is devoted to the subject. Very crudely summarised he says essentially that domesticated far m animals and humans have developed a symbiotic relationship. We provide them with a life where food, medical care and all they need for life is provided, then slaughter them quickly in their prime instead of the life of undomesticated animals where they are at the mercy of 'mother' nature and predators, who attack the sick, the young and the old.

The corollary is that we have a duty of care to the animals we later consume. This means high welfare standards in life and a quick and painless death. This is why I only eat meat with assured high welfare standards, that usually mean organic and never eat chicken or pork when eating out and usually choose vegetarian options.

NfkDumpling Thu 11-Apr-13 18:02:33

Ditto, Flickety. And a [like] emoticon.

Bags Thu 11-Apr-13 18:25:41

Thanks, flickety. That's my approach too.

Bags Thu 11-Apr-13 18:28:20

Except for the eating out bit. The thing is, you can't be sure that dairy products have been ethically produced, so you'd have to go vegan to be sure, and then there's the pesticide issue, not to mention the germ issue with uncooked food.

It's never easy. You just have to do your best, and maybe not eat out a lot.

cathy Thu 11-Apr-13 20:32:31

Was watching a science programme on tv and learn't that cancererious substance is found on meat, I am a meat eater and knew that it was bad for the heart.

nightowl Thu 11-Apr-13 21:23:46

I found the idea of eating dead animals repugnant from a very early age -probably as soon as I found out where meat came from. I became vegetarian at 17 (I'm not sure what took me so long). I think you have to be honest with children. I remember my mum was always very truthful and it really wouldn't have helped if she had fudged the issue. But I also think that adults have to respect the fact that some children will then choose not to eat meat and shouldn't try to force them to do so.

Yummygran Fri 12-Apr-13 13:46:43

Gillybob, I asked exactly the same question to my Mum when I was about 3 years old apparently and when given the answer I vowed I would never eat meat again! And I haven't. It don't feel it has done me any harm, I get my protein in lots of other ways and feel fit and well. Children should make their own mind up, as long as they are eating plenty of healthy fruit and vegetables, where is the harm?

NfkDumpling Fri 12-Apr-13 13:49:36

DD2 decided to be veggie when she was around ten. Not a problem - except when we went to France on holiday. They just couldn't understand the concept. I believe it's better now.

gillybob Fri 12-Apr-13 13:59:00

Thank you so much for all of your (quite varied) answers. I now know that ifwhen the question raises it head this weekend I am going to be "gently" honest and leave it at that. Then if they decide they don't want to eat meat then that's fine. Apparently I make the best tuna pasta bake in the world according to DGD2 so I will have ingredients on hand. Just hope they don't decide not to eat fish either ! smile Thanks again lovely ladies.

GillieB Fri 12-Apr-13 18:36:00

This reminded me of an occasion when my DD was about four. We had another family come to visit and went out into the countryside where, of course, because it was spring, I kept on saying "Look at the lovely little lambs". Next day was Easter Sunday and we were all sat down to our lunch. DD suddenly said "what is this meat, mummy?" I replied "Leg of Lamb" without thinking about it and then there was a silence. I am afraid I kept completely shtum when DD said, quite matter of factly "I expect the lamb has grown another leg now".

yogagran Fri 12-Apr-13 19:32:35

Just a brief comment to gillybob about your post at 12.47 yesterday. You say that you feel sad that those newborns wouldn't live to see their first birthday. Remember that they wouldn't have been born at all if they weren't planned for the meat market.

I am often puzzled by vegetarians who drink milk. Do they not think how and why their milk has been produced. A cow cannot produce milk until she has had a calf. The calf, if it's female will be taken away almost immediately and if it's male.....