Vegetarian or non-vegetarian: How are you raising your child?

This article is written by Jayashree Rukhaiyar for Zenparent

When both parents follow a similar eating style, it is easy to raise your child on the same lines. But I am a vegetarian and my husband is a non-vegetarian, so how I raise my children has been a conundrum. As partners, we’ve never tried to influence or enforce each other’s eating styles. We’ve coexisted in peace giving importance to the fact that we need to respect each other’s choices. Since we both have strong views behind our choices, what exactly do we do for children who are too young to decide on their own?

I am a vegetarian by chance and choice. I was raised a vegetarian but eventually I chose to remain one. My husband’s legendary love for chicken makes me feel like he was born with it. With a background as different as chalk and cheese, we entered into a marriage with the understanding that we will respect each other’s way of life for who we are. No judgments.

At one point, we got into a heated argument on what we should do for the children. The problem was that neither of our arguments was foolproof as each choice had its merits and demerits. Here’s what the conversation looked like.

MeThe Husband
You are killing animals
So are you. Don’t you have leather bags
and wear animal-tested products?
But you are killing to eat them
So is a lion or a cheetah. If vegetarianism
was such a righteous choice, then there
wouldn’t have been any carnivores on earth
But you aren’t a lion or a cheetah. You are
a human who can make an intelligent
So are you. But you choose what is
convenient. It’s easy for you to not eat meat
today but you won’t stop from having milk,
ghee and butter – all animal products
Yes but those are obtained without killing
But those animals are kept in living
conditions worse than dying so that you get
your products. Can you put money where
your mouth is and turn vegan? Will you
stop giving milk and ghee to our children?
The health benefits of being a vegetarian
are higher in the long run
There is no proven study. There are
vegetarians who die at 40 and non-
vegetarians who live up to 80 and vice
And the argument continued for about 15 minutes or so. Exhausted, we had to stop ourselves from turning it into a full-blown fight. We asked ourselves what we really wanted. And we wanted the same thing, for our children to be healthy and happy. It all boiled down to one point: we let them choose. I give only vegetarian food to my children and when my husband has the chance (which is not too often), he introduces them to non-vegetarian food to see how they take to the taste.

When the time comes, we will take turns to explain the merits of why we’ve made our choices and let them decide. My story is, by no means, to discuss the merit or demerit of a particular lifestyle as no choices is really perfect. It is about taking imperfect choices and making them work for you.

Have you faced a similar situation? What have you done? Did either of your parents influence your decision too?