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    #161008 - 06/26/13 06:47 AM Re: the age of vegetarianism [Re: doubtfulguest]
    KnittingMama Offline

    Registered: 04/04/12
    Posts: 267
    Loc: California
    DD sometimes claims to be a vegetarian, but in reality she eats most meat except ground beef, which she generally avoids. I do my best to respect this, so I'll have Gardenburgers available if we're having hamburgers for dinner, for example.

    The struggle that I see for her is that she really does enjoy eating meat, but feels bad for the animal. I suspect that as she gets older, she will reject meat more frequently.

    It has made for some good conversations about food waste. While I am not the kind of parent who insists her kids eat everything on their plate, I do point out if one of them has taken a second serving of meat and then doesn't eat most of it. They know that the chicken we eat for dinner used to be a living creature, and that we need to respect that by not wasting it.

    #161009 - 06/26/13 06:56 AM Re: the age of vegetarianism [Re: doubtfulguest]
    GinaW Offline

    Registered: 08/09/12
    Posts: 90
    I do agree with HK that it's not a universal attribute of giftedness or even empathy to suddenly feel unwilling to eat meat. My nephew, probably HG+ and *very* empathetic in most instances, is a perfect example. B and SIL got a shipment of live lobsters when DN was 5 or so. He spent the whole day watching them, naming them and calling them his pets. B and SIL were pretty worried about their dinner plans. But when it was time to prepare them they told DN what their plans were and his only response was "oooh- I love lobster tail!"

    I do think, however, that it's not an unusual predicament for the highly sensitive. Personally, if either of my kids wanted to be vegetarian or vegan that'd be fine by me. I'm a big fan of the nutritarian diet- consisting mostly of vegetables, fruits, beans and seeds. Given their lack of allergies I know I could feed them balanced meals without any animal product.

    #161010 - 06/26/13 07:24 AM Re: the age of vegetarianism [Re: doubtfulguest]
    Cricket2 Offline

    Registered: 05/11/09
    Posts: 2172
    Loc: Colorado
    This is a very interesting conversation to me b/c dd14 and I are embarking on some research in this very area. We recently joined a local meetup group of vegans and, in speaking with someone we met at one of their get togethers, she expressed the opinion that she didn't understand how I could be married to someone who lacked empathy (dh is not vegetarian). I talked with dds about it later and said that I do believe that early vegans/vegetarians tend to be more black and white and judgmental (this lady was a fairly recent "convert"), but that I really reject the notion that people who understand the atrocities in factory farming (dh has certainly been exposed to that through watching videos like Food, Inc.) yet are willing to continue to eat meat obtained from such sources (dh is) are insensitive, evil, amoral, or innately cruel.

    Despite whatever problems we have, I can honestly say that dh is not insensitive or uncaring about suffering of others including animals. Perhaps some of it is my belief system (Buddhism is big on many path to enlightenment), but I also don't necessarily think that others need to follow my same path.

    What dd and I are undertaking to figure out, though, is what it is that makes one person be exposed to documentaries, books, or other knowledge about animal suffering, factory farming, or simply animals being killed for human consumption and decide to stop eating them and others to make a different decision. We're wondering about social and cultural factors as well as innate differences. The only studies that I have found about potential innate factors, though, are related to IQ and found that higher IQ kids were more likely to become vegetarian. As you all point out, though, some of these kids take the info and make choices more in line with Michael Pollan's arguments for farming differently, but not ceasing to consume other living beings and I do think that is a valid choice as well.

    If anyone has any other ideas other than intelligence as to innate differences in an individual that might impact his/her choice to become veg*n (vegan or vegetarian), let me know. I may be bugging you all at some point to take an online survey too as dd wants to put one together and statistically analyze the data wink. She's taking AP Stats next year.
    Study Strategies for Accelerated Learners

    #161011 - 06/26/13 07:53 AM Re: the age of vegetarianism [Re: Cricket2]
    doubtfulguest Offline

    Registered: 03/15/13
    Posts: 429
    Cricket2, i love it that you're launching an investigation into these things with your DD. i don't know of any global attributes that might sway one person more than another, but in our family it seems to depend on exposure.

    i grew up in a single-parent, latch-key home and was largely responsible for making my own food choices from the age of 5. (i know that'd be considered neglect these days, but i loved it!) there was only healthy stuff in the fridge, and i learned to combine natural foods into easy, flavourful meals. since i was thinking about food choices so often, i rejected meat very early, but it was no big deal since the change really only affected me.

    my husband, on the other hand, grew up in a traditional suburban home. it was wall-to-wall hot dogs and Wonderbread. we're still in the process of re-training his taste buds - but for him to give up meat would be a total paradigm shift.

    DD is growing up in a home packed with healthy, local food and we talk about this stuff all the time. she feels genuinely bad for her dad's limited palate, and really wants him to eat more whole foods. this step into vegetarianism is kind of a logical extension of her growing knowledge of the world - i'm interested to see where it goes!
    Every Sunday it brooded and lay on the floor. Inconveniently close to the drawing-room door.

    #161012 - 06/26/13 08:25 AM Re: the age of vegetarianism [Re: doubtfulguest]
    HowlerKarma Offline

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    Cricket, I think that the major difference in conclusions is dependent (at least for high IQ people) on whether or not they adopt beliefs as follows:

    a) all creatures which are sentient possess something which could be termed a "soul"

    b) creatures with souls (see a) should be granted more-or-less equivalent rights

    c) all creatures which are sentient are "animals"

    d) human beings are/are not somehow different from animals

    I think that it is the combination of these factors and parsing their meaning that leads to such radically different decisions in whether or not to consume meat or other animal products, and to what degree.

    For example, if you believe that human beings are essentially just super-bright omnivorous animals, then that leads to a rationale in which the consumption of meat is a fairly acceptable decision, environmental considerations aside.

    If you believe that all sentient creatures have souls and are equally endowed with rights as a result, then that path leads most clearly to veganism.

    KWIM? Like you, as a Taoist, I have no real 'need'--nevermind desire-- to proselytize or convert others to my way of thinking... ergo, I live with a pair of meat-loving omnivores, and I myself am more-or-less not a mammal-eating person. I do think that some of this boils down to maturity and black-and-white thinking, though, and perhaps not so much to raw intellect-- older vegetarians and vegans tend to not be so judgmental about "meat is murder" and more accepting of others' very different conclusions. On the other hand, I do think that there is a risk of feeling "more enlightened" than those who are meat-eating, and that strikes me as incorrect/immature as well. Just because a person arrives a different conclusion, it doesn't follow that they lacked the same data that you used, or that they were "less able" to process it a particular way. I've known meat-eaters that feel that way, too, though-- it's not just vegans.

    It's a matter of individual beliefs, really.

    Edited by HowlerKarma (06/26/13 08:32 AM)
    Edit Reason: clarity
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

    #161013 - 06/26/13 08:33 AM Re: the age of vegetarianism [Re: HowlerKarma]
    JonLaw Offline

    Registered: 07/29/11
    Posts: 2007
    Loc: The Sub-Tropics
    Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma
    Cricket, I think that the major difference in conclusions is dependent (at least for high IQ people) on whether or not they adopt beliefs as follows:

    a) all creatures which are sentient possess something which could be termed a "soul"

    b) creatures with souls (see a) should be granted more-or-less equivalent rights

    c) all creatures which are sentient are "animals"

    d) human beings are/are not somehow different from animals.

    What about arresting lions, cats, and other mean animals?

    #161014 - 06/26/13 08:36 AM Re: the age of vegetarianism [Re: Cricket2]
    Zen Scanner Offline

    Registered: 07/13/12
    Posts: 1478
    Loc: NC
    Originally Posted By: Cricket2
    If anyone has any other ideas other than intelligence as to innate differences in an individual that might impact his/her choice to become veg*n (vegan or vegetarian), let me know.

    Here's some influences I brainstormed:
    Character Trait Factors
    Single-mindedness (overlaps with pragmatism)
    Intrinsically/Extrinsically motivated
    Integration/psychological risk
    All or nothing thinking

    Species centrism
    Darwinian perspective
    Religious Beliefs re: sentientism
    Religious Beliefs re: "purpose" of animals

    Intrinsic/extrinsic may be a wash because fads vs. personal beliefs may play out in either direction.

    Integration/psychological risk is likely easily overlooked but can be a big contributor. If a person views themselves as a new person each day, then to reinvent under a given philosophy is simple. But if the view is as a compounding of your past, then to accept the premise of cruelty is to face self-loathing head on as your entire past is rewritten.

    I'm thinking single-mindedness in that if you are eating, you are eating and not contemplating the meaning of life.

    All-or-nothing thinking might be a variant of integration except it is a bit of avoidance to see the slippery slope of where do you stop in deciding.

    I actually wouldn't factor intelligence into the question. As it too is a bit of wash playing into some of the above factors.

    Darwinian... Tasting great is a species survival trait that does wonders for the world-wide population of chickens.

    #161015 - 06/26/13 08:44 AM Re: the age of vegetarianism [Re: doubtfulguest]
    knute974 Offline

    Registered: 09/22/09
    Posts: 683
    Loc: controlled chaos
    I have to admit that I have never been much of a carnivore and have had periods of vegitarianism. As a kid, I had a real problem with eggs and veal. It was philosophical problem with eating babies (I didn't understand that most grocery store eggs are not fertilized). Funny, I don't recall having an issue with eating "adults."

    Due to food allergy issues in two of my three children, I eat more meat now than I have since growing up in a "meat and potatoes" household. Like HK, one of my children could not get sufficient protein without meat. When you have a sibling who could not survive without meat, it tempers some of the "animal empathy" issues.

    #161016 - 06/26/13 08:58 AM Re: the age of vegetarianism [Re: JonLaw]
    MsFriz Offline

    Registered: 11/22/08
    Posts: 313
    A clueless teacher put Food Inc on at DS's school in place of recess one rainy afternoon. He was in 3rd grade at the time. Within a few minutes, enough kids were in tears that the teacher turned the movie off, but there was no reversing its effect on DS8. He came home RANTING breathlessly about factory farms and corporate greed that day and hasn't had a bite of meat since, even though many of his favorite foods had involved chicken or pork. He won't even eat meat that has been humanely raised, because the animal "still dies." He was the only kid in his class who was instantly converted, and he hasn't waffled since.

    It has been kind of sad for me to see him write off foods he had loved so much, and it's been a pain to adjust my shopping and cooking, but we've always encouraged him to be a free thinker, so I have respected his wishes. One day, not long after he stopped eating meat, during a conversation about whether children should automatically accept the religious and political beliefs of their parents, he used the example of himself being a vegetarian child of meat-eaters. I thought that was super cool.

    I admire his conviction and think he's probably doing the right thing even though I'm not ready to do it myself. Maybe he can be a role model for me!

    #161017 - 06/26/13 09:02 AM Re: the age of vegetarianism [Re: doubtfulguest]
    HowlerKarma Offline

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    One question-- is it fundamentally cruelty?

    I think that familiarity probably plays an integral role there-- kids who have not ever seen animals from farm-to-plate probably feel that such an existence is inevitably cruelty.

    Kids who have seen it know that isn't inherently the case-- at least not from the animal's perspective. That, I think, is some mash-up of cognitive ability, empathy, and maturity-- the ability to take a non-human perspective like that. Which then means that we as humans have to decide whether or not we SHOULD feel guilty for eating animals, assuming that the animal probably doesn't much care either way, given a reasonably happy and humane existence otherwise.

    Not all kids are (emotionally) capable of withstanding the acquisition of the data here, however. Some are, and some aren't. My DD doesn't like watching rabbits being butchered, but she's seen it and it hasn't had much impact on her relative enthusiasm for bunny enchiladas. Me, on the other hand, I was seriously traumatized by my 7-8 yo experience of raising market pigs. Pigs are intelligent and affectionate-- very dog-like once you get to know them, and they have a level of cognitive awareness that makes eating factory-farmed ones impossible for me personally, having had that personal experience.

    There is a component which is down to possible anthropomorphism versus pragmatism, as well. Few people truly see trout and border collies as being completely interchangeable on the sentience and cognition scale if they are familiar with both animals in a non-theoretical sense.


    All-or-nothing thinking might be a variant of integration except it is a bit of avoidance to see the slippery slope of where do you stop in deciding.

    Yes, though... if you look at my above example, that's exactly what my personal assessment has been based upon; the level of cognition in a particular species. I won't eat some kinds of animals at all, and others only if I know that they've been humanely treated and killed in such a way as to NOT suffer in the process. Which, in my mind, is more than most non-food animals get, when you get right down to it.

    So my personal feeling is that a lot (not all, though) radical vegans tend to romanticize the "natural living" that animals do in the wild. They do suffer as part of living. Now, from a philosophical angle, I understand the argument that all sentient beings should have autonomy... but I don't overestimate the ability of a goldfish, nor underestimate the ability of a horse or goat. Rabbits are just not as intelligent as pigs, nor are they as thoughtful; ergo, while rabbits are just as deserving of respectful husbandry (and maybe MORE in need of parental care, in some ways, given their inability to care for themselves), I can eat them far more readily than a pig.

    Familiarity goes a LONG way there, I think.

    I believe, for that reason, that children should be familiar with farmed animals and get to know them. smile Some kids only know sheep from books and movies, and that's a shame.

    I think that the important thing for any particular decision-making is to remain flexible and make sure that you aren't making decisions on bad data... for example, Hollywood anthropomorphic portrayals like Finding Nemo. Dig into the neuroscience research about animals and their level of self-awareness, in other words.

    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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