Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"What is meat, Mommy?"

At Camp Mather, I overheard a mom and a little boy (probably 3 or 4) talking in the shower room while I was doing my make-up. The mom said, happily, "It's our favorite tonight for dinner! Steak!"

"What is steak, Mommy?"
"It's meat."
"What is meat, Mommy?"
The mother giggled and didn't answer.
"What is meat, Mommy?" the boy asked more insistently. Again, his mother giggled nervously and didn't answer.
Frustrated, the boy said louder, "WHAT IS MEAT, MOMMY?" several times. His mother just simpered and said, in a fakey, silvery voice, "Why are you asking me this?" Ummm, maybe because he wants to know what he's eating? Eventually the boy gave up and fell silent.

This really disturbed me. As a long-term vegetarian, I don't ask that everyone convert, but it would be nice if meat-eaters could own their actions. If you think it's okay to eat animals and feed them to your children, then do so with pride. The boy had a legitimate question which should have been answered. (Indeed, as grown-ups, don't we want to know what we're eating? It's a fundamental human right: to know what is going in your mouth).


Zoe said...

Recently a co-worker brought her 9 year old son to work - he needed a mental health day off from school. Because he was getting bored and she was frustrated with him, I offered to take him with me to lunch. Off we went for Niman Ranch burgers.
"These taste different from the ones I usually eat. Better. How come?" So I launched into an explanation of happy cows and how they're fed different things than the Burger King cows before being killed to be turned into hamburgers for us. He nodded along and we talked all about killing all sorts of animals and hunting and food. He's a 9 year old boy; I felt it was appropriate topics for him. The nice older ladies lunching next to us were horrified. But I feel they shouldn't have been listening so closely to our conversation - I specifically spoke quietly.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Thanks for being so honest with him; you're so good with kids. I'm sure he was very happy being spoken to like a grown-up and learning something.