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My husband and I have been called to make a difficult decision.
We recently watched a few documentaries including What the Health and Forks over Knives. They each put information forward to advocate for a vegan diet.
The documentaries are primarily about the health risks associated with the consumption of meat and dairy products, namely diabetes and certain cancers.
I’m not going to rehash the details here because they aren’t the focus of the post. And I’m well aware that these documentaries have certain flaws and biases. A debate about the facts is not my intention.
What is relevant is that since watching the documentaries, we’ve both decided to drastically reduce our meat and dairy consumption. The information presented just made sense to us in our context. A main factor is that I’ve had numerous food intolerances for over a decade and a plant based diet has worked wonders for me.
Now, our decision happened to fall in the same week that our baby started eating solid foods. Inevitably, the question came…
'Do we feed our son meat and dairy products even though we’re not eating them?'
We found ourselves ultimately discussing the difference between making decisions for ethical reasons vs health reasons.
Many vegetarians/vegans follow their diet to make a stand against animal cruelty. It’s an ethical decision. That’s great. However, in terms of raising our child, we feel that ethical decisions such as this one are up to our son to make when he is capable of doing so. Ethics are subjective and are a very personal thing.
Our decision to reduce our consumption of meat and dairy is based on concerns for our physical health. We’re not downplaying the importance of treating animals humanely, but it’s the health concerns that got us over the line. We found ourselves saying that if we are of the current belief that these products are harmful to us, then why would we feed them to our child? Our decision was based on the same premise as the one not to give him soft drink at this age for instance.
We’re not claiming to be vegan. We have no doubt we will eat meat and dairy on occasion. We’re simply making conscious decisions every day to opt for a more plant based diet.
As for our son, we have time on our side (he’s still on the boob after all!). But there’s an abundant supply of plant based foods for him to consume while we continue weighing up our decision. All of his nutritional needs will be met.
As parents, we are advocates for our child. We make decisions for them until they’re able to make their own. Our role from day one is to gather information about all kinds of issues, from various points of view, to present to our children as they mature.
We are nurturing, protecting and providing for our son the best way we know how. We will continue to do so. But we will raise him in a way that empowers him to make his own decisions about his life and his body.
For now, in our home, he will eat what we eat. Outside of this, only time will tell.
I'm married to Sam and I'm a mother to Henry.