Published in Geelong Advertiser
AN article published recently in the Geelong Advertiser concerned the embarrassment and discomfort of parents suddenly called upon to answer their children’s questions regarding the nature and source of the meat upon their plate.
The writer’s response to this dilemma was to immediately change the subject; ‘‘ How many more sleeps till your birthday? Three, is it? Wow, how exciting! What cake did you decide on?’’ If we are so reluctant to tell our children the truth about meat, what does it mean?
Does it mean that we know in our hearts that it is callous and cruel to butcher the sweet and gentle lambs, pigs, cows and chickens that our children love and view as friends?
Does it mean that deep down we feel guilty and ashamed of what we are doing? Do we suspect that when our children discover the truth they will likely look at us in horror and disbelief – and possibly disdain?
The writer of the article said she’d heard stories from other mothers about their children’s reactions to the gruesome and gory truth about exactly what they were eating and how it got there – and they had turned into vegetarians on the spot.
‘‘But,’’ she said, ‘‘having a vegetarian child is just something else to worry about, isn’t it? Worry that they aren’t getting enough protein or iron or whatever from going meat-free.’’
Had the writer done her research she would have learned that many of our strongest athletes are vegetarians.
Track and field Olympic gold medal winner Carl Lewis says his best athletic performances came after he eliminated all animal products from his diet.
Others who are living proof that humans thrive on plant-based diets include Edwin Moses (two-time Olympic gold medallist in hurdles) and Mac Danzig (martial arts champion).
The winner of Germany’s Strongest Man 2011 competition, Patrik Baboumian, is a vegetarian and is considered to be one of the strongest men alive. He has held the log lift world record (190 kilograms) since 2009.
In her final paragraph the writer says: ‘‘I don’t want to lie to her, but childhood innocence is but fleeting.’’ Of course parents don’t want to lie to their children – and there’s simply no need to lie to them. If parents served up cruelty-free food there would be no need to lie because children’s questions could be answered honestly.
Besides answering their questions truthfully parents could go one step further and take their youngsters to visit the farms and orchards to see where their food was produced.
Can you imagine any parents taking their children to a slaughterhouse to see how their meat was ‘‘produced’’?
I very much doubt whether even the parents would be willing to visit one of these cruel killing factories. And how many would be willing to do the actual killing themselves?
Most children are born with an innate love of animals but sadly, over time, they learn to adopt the habits of grown-ups which ultimately includes viewing animals as food rather than friends and as commodities rather than fellow sentient beings.
Perhaps it’s time for grown-ups to begin viewing the world through the eyes of their innocent children – instead of vice versa.
Jenny Moxham is an animal rights activist. She lives in Monbulk.