Removing the Beam?

I suppose I should begin with an introduction.  My name is Jeremy. I normally blog here and, if you’re interested, you can learn a bit more about me here (though now that I’ve just looked I need to update some of that info ;-)).  After commenting on Tim’s post on being a repentant carnivore, he asked me if I’d be interested in co-blogging with him on this topic.  I thought this would be a worthwhile project so here I write.

I, like Tim, have become increasingly concerned about my own consumption of meat both from the standpoint of health and ecology, though I think Tim’s concern is primarily in terms of resources.  For me at least, it is not a matter of abstinence, as I don’t see any problems inherent in eating meat, but rather one of moderation.  If my meat consumption is at the expense of others, or if it is deteriorating my own health, then this failure to practice self-control is wrong, and I should amend my diet.

One issue that I will try to bring to the fore is one that Tim alluded to in his first post, namely that of trying to reduce meat consumption as well as the consumption of animal products with children in my home.  Not only children, but children who have been raised on an American diet.  They like pizza, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, and … well, that’s about it.  They will both eat fruit if that is all we have to offer, but balk at vegetables.

The matter that I have been thinking about the most from the outset is what approach I should take with my children.  My wife is fully on board with reducing meant consumption; however, attempts at getting our children to make changes to their diet often lead to a great deal of frustration.

My dilemma is whether my wife and I should attempt to model a more meat-less diet for a time first and then attempt to bring the children along; something analogous to removing the beam from our own eyes first before we can try to help them.  Or should we attempt to have the children participating from the start?  I suppose the first option may seem a bit cowardly, but the initial frustration that may result from option two oftentimes leads to failure that can seem like a serious setback.

For the time being, I have started by trying to reduce my own meat consumption.  Today was entirely devoid of animal products for me.  And, I suppose that’s a start.

Has anyone ever tried this or something analogous with their children?  What has worked for you?  I’d be glad to hear your thoughts, and I’m looking forward to dialoguing through this experience with you.

8 thoughts on “Removing the Beam?”

  1. Judy,
    I have two daughters, one is 6 and the other 2. In many ways the two year is much easier to deal with in terms of food choices. She often prefers to just eat fruit for breakfast. The 6 year has become fairly set in her ways already. I suppose if I were a good blogger I probably would have posted the family photo. I’ll try to remember that for a future post.

  2. Hi there,

    I don’t have kids, so no particular wisdom. Except that I was very taken by a comment in “More with Less” (the mennonite cookbook) of “we liked it better the second time”. i.e. trying things a few times, and over time the kids get used to them and cooperate more. We also tend to feed carnivore visitors stews made with a mix of pulses and meat. Goat and red lentils; beef and red or brown lentils; mutton and haricot beans are our most common combinations. The pulses ‘stretch’ the meat flvour. Brown lentils have a very ‘meaty’ texture in pasta sauce, too. And a couple of rashers of bacon give a nice meaty flavour to a soybean casserole. Although all of those things are ways to make pulses *taste* more like meat. To mimic a piece of meat, the only option I know of is faux meat.

  3. Hi Heather,
    Thanks for the note. I had not previously thought of that, but trying to stretch what meat I do use rather than serving it in “slabs” is a great idea. You are right that bacon does go a long way; It doesn’t take very much of it to flavor an entire dish. I also find that with cheese it is the same way. It doesn’t take much of a strong cheese like Gorgonzola or Bleu to flavor a dish.

  4. Ah. Both my children were less fussy eaters for the first 3 years of their lives, then very, very, very fussy for the next 3-5 years, then got better again. At their age, you can probably explain that eating less meat helps the planet or the poor people or something and get them used to why you’re doing it. Teenagers are much more challenging. And yes, combining meat and beans may well help.

  5. Yes, I just fear that my oldest is in that second 3-5 year time span you are talking about. We do talk about food a good bit with our oldest. I think she sincerely wants to make good eating decision both for herself and for others. But, when it comes down to it, it is still very difficult for her. It is challenging I think because (at least my) children at meal time only think one meal at a time, not really long term.

  6. Hope this isn’t too late, but it occurs to me that I may not have kids but I know people who do! One (who I only know online) is Alison Sampson, who lives in Melbourne, Australia, and has kids aged 6, nearly 4 and nearly 2. She is vegetarian except for special occasions, and she keeps a food blog, including noting what her kids liked and didn’t and how she got around them at times! She also focuses on local, seasonal food, which will be less relevant for you as you’re not on her locality (I think you’re in New Orleans but you may be South Africa – I’m somewhat confused on that score!), but it may still be helpful. The blog is:


    –Heather 🙂

  7. Heather,
    Thanks for the link. I’ll be sure to check it out. To alleviate some confusion, I’m living in New Orleans and doing my studies through the University of Stellenbosch at a distance.

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