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How do you tell your kids about eating meat

by ines.wurbs@icloud.com

Meat is a big topic in our society. For some, it is a fixed part of the diet and for others a no-go. Of course, as parents, we are particularly concerned about the nutrition of our children. Inevitably, the topic of meat and meat production comes up with our children. How should one deal with it, and do I scare my children?

I can reassure you that we can expect more from our children than we think. Honesty is also the best policy on this topic.

How to explain to our children where the meat comes from

Our children should learn the truth from us when it comes to meat and where it came from. Many parents avoid the topic for as long as possible. On the one hand, it is often for fear of scaring the children and to protect them (avoidably at least). But the subject of meat will come in due time. From around the age of 4, our children begin to deal increasingly with the environment and start asking questions about it.

They also question many things cautiously. Of course, as most parents with young children know, these questions can get very detailed. Among other things, the topic of food is also a popular point of interest. At the latest, we start explaining to our children where fruit and vegetables come from. Or it is a topic in kindergarten and school. Here are a few tips on how to introduce meat to your children:

Be honest

As already mentioned, honesty towards our children is the most important thing. Share your knowledge with your children. Lying damages your parent-child relationship and can also lead to uncomfortable situations for your child. A child may explain things to other children that their parents have told them wrongly.

Then it is maybe corrected by other children, or perhaps by other parents or educators, which is sure awkward for them. We parents are essential to our children and act as role models. Especially when we are young, they see us as omniscient. As a result, they are likely to be quite shocked when someone else claims otherwise and will defend Mom and Dad’s statements. This, of course, puts our children in an uncomfortable situation and possibly also in a conflict of loyalty. Mom and dad had a different explanation, but of course, all the other children also believe the kindergarten teacher. Such a situation can be difficult and problematic for our children.

Explanations should be age appropriate

Just because we’re honest with our kids doesn’t mean we should explain it to them in minute detail like an adult. Depending on the age, we should adjust our explanation. So, explain it to your child in a way that doesn’t give him/her nightmares and that he/she can handle it well. 

For a kindergarten child, this means, for example: that you can go through with him/her what comes from which animal. So:

  • From sheep, we get: wool, milk, meat
  • From the cow, we get: milk, meat, fur
  • From the chicken, we get: eggs, meat, feathers

From school age, you can go into more detail. A farmer sells the animals when they are old enough, and some of them are then taken to the slaughterhouse. There they are slaughtered, and the meat is cut to the right size and packaged for resale in the supermarket or butcher.

How to slaughter and butcher, I would only recommend from a higher elementary school age or even later. Depending on how your child deals with information. If there is a tendency to imagine many additional scenarios and to process things in this way, it may be appropriate later. If your child simply accepts the information as it is and is not overly concerned, your child may be able to process the information more easily.

Discuss the farm or, even better, visit it

Keeping and caring for farm animals is also essential when it comes to meat. In this way, you can introduce your child to the topic of meat at a very early age and prepare them for it. The more he/she knows about the topic, the easier and better he/she will understand all the other facts.

Use books or ideally a trip to a farm. Of course, there are also hiking or nature parks with farm animals. Within a radius of 60 kilometers, almost everyone has the opportunity to experience farm animals in some way. This experience is worth its weight in gold for children, as they also learn to appreciate and learn a lot about the animals at the same time.

Here, it is also appropriate if you explain the different postures to your child right away. Depending on your age, you might also be able to explain why. So, why is there still cage farming, for example, what is allowed in your country, and how do you know where the meat comes from?

Book recommendations for eating meat:

Findus plants meatballs: Recommended age: 4-7 years. A non-fiction picture book about the growth of our food. Funny story with an important message about food.

Giraffe – What do you like to eat? From 2-5 years and older, I think. A book for children that explains why we need food and how nutrients from their plates help us.
Get Your Dragon To Eat Healthy Food: A Story About Nutrition and Healthy Food Choices: From the age of 4 years. A book about healthy food in general and motivation for good food choices.

Another possibility is to convey the origin of food playfully. Nice toy foods with chunks of meat and more are great for this. You and your child playfully explore these foods. For example, you order from your child or your play shop. And as the game progresses, you explain where the food comes from, or perhaps ask your children if they know where we get it from. This also has the advantage that your child can ask questions right away, and it can be implemented quite early on. As soon as your child understands what a cow, pig, or fish is.

Answer your child’s questions

Even if your child asks what they are eating. You can of course answer with meat or sausage. But if at some point that isn’t enough for your child, feel free to tell him/her about the animal as well. Children usually take it more lightly than we think.

Don’t force your child to eat meat

If your child doesn’t want to eat meat, it’s not the end of the world. I would recommend just leaving your child alone. It will probably start up again on its own fairly soon. If not, inquire about substituting the egg white and protein sources.

A pleasant climate when eating is essential for children. There is no place for pressure.

Here I have put together a few links for you where you can find additional information on the subject of vegetarian nutrition for children:

How to explain to your children why meat is important for our diet and what our body needs it for

It is essential and exciting for our children to know why we eat meat and why our bodies need it. There are also numerous nice children’s books that you can look at together on the subject.

Meat production explained to children

Here I have written a short explanation of how exactly you can describe meat production to your child of primary school age (or later kindergarten age):

We, humans, need meat to keep our muscles functioning properly, our bones strong, and our brains strong. The vitamins in meat help our bodies do that.

The meat comes from different animals. We often eat chicken, pork or cow.

The animals mostly grow up on farms. When they are old enough, the farmer sells them. Afterward, some are taken to a slaughterhouse and slaughtered there. Then the meat is sorted into parts and cut in such a way that the butcher or the supermarket can process them easily. Finally, the parts are packaged and sold to the supermarket, shop, or restaurant. They cut it into a filet then, or whatever meat we buy. Then it is placed in the meat case or packaged so that we can buy it.

While meat is healthy and important, the rule is meat 2-3 times a week and fish once. Of course, these vitamins can also be replaced with other foods such as lentils, oats, and quinoa.

Kindergarten and the topic of meat

Meat is also usually discussed in kindergarten. This often encourages our children to address the topic at home and ask questions.

In addition, we parents can use it as a good balance to the usual diet of our children. 

  • If your child eats little meat or no meat at all, the other children can encourage them to try it when they eat in kindergarten. Our children often orientate themselves toward peers and groups. That’s why they often do very different things in groups than they do alone at home. Suddenly, what they would never eat at home is our children’s favorite meal in kindergarten. It’s the same with meat.
  • If you are vegetarian or vegan, the kindergarten also offers your child the opportunity to try something different – namely meat. If your child is not used to meat and is still curious about it, then kindergarten and later of course school would be a good way for your child to be able to eat meat if he or she wants. That way, you don’t have to prepare it if you don’t want to.
  • Is your child a meat lover, but also a vegetable grouch? Here, too, the kindergarten can help to motivate your child to try and get to know new foods through the group.

If your child doesn’t eat meat, and you don’t want to either, ask your kindergarten teacher to let you know if another child brings a snack with meat to kindergarten. Even if meat is used when cooking together. This way, a suitable replacement can be found. Normally, however, kindergartens are nowadays quite well-prepared to deal with the most diverse needs.

What to do if my child doesn’t want to eat meat?

Children are very different here. Some are real meat eaters and others eat it very sparingly. Both are fine. 

  • Under no circumstances should you exert any pressure
  • Keep offering your child meat
  • Include it in cooking and shopping
  • Let your child choose or create the meal
  • Eat one main meal a day together
  • Try different preparations and types of meat

I have found that not all types of meat and preparations go down equally well with children. I’ve talked to numerous parents about this, and my research has shown that children prefer to eat meat if:

  • It is from turkey or chicken
  • It’s breaded
  • Cooked very long and soft
  • It’s a sausage
  • It is finely chopped, i.e. minced meat
  • It’s in the burger
  • It is interesting, funny, or prepared in an unusual way

I have summarized general tips for little picky eaters for you in this article.

My kids’ favorite recipes with meat 

Here, purely for inspiration, I have linked a few of my children’s favorite recipes. Better safe than sorry.


Also, try not to compare your child’s meat consumption with that of others. Children are just very different. Of course, meat is part of a healthy diet and if meat is omitted, malnutrition must be avoided by replacing it.

Children can usually deal well with age-appropriate explanations on the subject of meat and meat production. Just like with vegetables and fruit, you must know what you are eating and where it comes from. Nuggets are not made in the supermarket and burgers are not grown in Fast-food-restaurants. It is or was an animal. Of course, children don’t understand this from the start. It is a piece of general education that is discussed in educational institutions such as schools or kindergartens. However, it doesn’t do any harm if you simply let this information flow in at home.

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