Many times, I have heard parents proudly announce how much their kids love animals. I really believe that this is true. Most kids adore animals and feel joyful around them.
“My John loves animals so much! He gets so excited when he sees a dog, cat, rabbit or lamb. I think we should buy a pet rabbit for him. He would like to have a rabbit so much!”
John loves rabbits; he likes to play with them, cuddle them and take care of them, but john wouldn’t like the idea of eating a rabbit. Loving animals and eating them simply don’t go together. You just don’t bake or cook someone you love.
Some would say that animals are not someone but something. Well, from the beginning, people personalize pets by giving them names. John’s rabbit was a girl he named Luna. He talked to Luna as if she was a person. John took care of Luna as if she was a human baby: fed her, played with her, even read books to her. It was obvious that John developed a personal relationship with Lunna. Yes, John loved Luna.
One lovely Sunday, John’s parents were invited for dinner at their friends’ house. Their warm hosts prepared (guess what?) rabbit stew in tomato sauce. John, who was 6 years old, asked his mother, “Mum, what is this?” Everyone looked at her, waiting for what she was going to say. She always told her son the truth, so she replied, “Honey, that is a rabbit cooked in tomato sauce. You like tomato sauce, don’t you?”
John couldn’t believe what she was saying. “A rabbit? Mummy, you are silly!” John laughed. “This is not a rabbit! You can see that there are no long ears or fur or short tail, not even sweet soft paws. It doesn’t look like a rabbit at all!”
His mother then gently explained to him that they had to cut the rabbit into pieces before baking him so they could easily chew it.
John was shocked. He protested and refused to eat. Fortunately, his mother didn’t force him to because she wanted to raise a person who respects others’ choices.
When John got back home from the worst dinner of his life, he told Luna what happened and promised her that she will never end up on a plate.
This is a story based on one real-life experience and there are many more examples of parents telling their kids the truth about the origins of meat.
Since it is hard to call meat by their real name, most parents avoid it. They would rather say: “We’re having nuggets for lunch” instead of “We’re eating chicken”
“We’re having burgers” instead of “We’re eating a cow”.
“We’re having ham” instead of “We’re eating a pig”.
“We’re having a salami sandwich” instead of “We’re having a sandwich with blended-up cute yellow chicks” or
“We’re having pate” instead of “We’re eating ground-up turkey”.
I should mention that Luna lived happily until old age and John became a vegan.
One creative way to promote the vegan belief that animals should be treated as friends, not as food, are picture books that encourage empathy and respect towards all living beings. One of them, written in a witty way, is An Unordinary Lion about a scary predator who decides to get out of the cruel food chain that he was part of.