Prepare yourself for a pretty heavy blog post.
As I mentioned earlier this month, Leo has decided that he wants to be a vegetarian because he doesn’t want to eat animals and Lenny, Lucy and I have joined him in this journey. Cooking and eating vegetarian at home has been easy. Lenny and I haven’t had a problem eating at any restaurants yet. Leo however, has had some struggles.
The other afternoon I took him to a local taco stand where he had been before and he wanted chicken tacos. I told him there weren’t vegetarian but if he wanted to order them that was his choice. After a slight tantrum, I conceded and ordered him the chicken tacos. Lucy and I had avocado tacos and as we sat their eating Leo kept announcing loudly to everyone in ear shot “I’m a vegetarian” as he sat their munching on chicken. Oy.
Pretty much everyone eating at the taco stand was tuned into what what happening at our table, due to the volume of my toddler, as I tried to reason with Leo about his tacos. “Leo, those tacos are not vegetarian. They are made from a chicken.”
“No, they are not. Where are the eyes?”
How does one explain this to a 4 year old?
We decided to take a trip to Farm Sanctuary and introduce Leo to some farm animals friends and hopefully teach him a little bit about the animals that he loves so dearly.
Farm Sanctuary’s mission is to protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals, and promote compassionate vegan living. Their two farms in California and one in New York shelter hundreds of animals that were rescued from the commercial farming industry.
The tour started with a brief overview of the organization and and a video that included some footage of animals in factory farms, this definitely made Leo (and myself) uncomfortable. So if you visit with the kiddos, be aware of this. The rest of the one hour tour was spent meeting the animals- which we all loved.
We met a sleepy pig named Macy, two ENORMOUS and very friendly cows, a beautiful black turkey named Turkey Lurkey, chickens, goats and sheep. Our tour guide was great and gave us wonderful introductions to each of the animals that we met, as well as some information about factory farming. I am not sure how much of this Leo absorbed or understood but he loved meeting all of the animals. He said he favorite were the cows and the pigs. I loved watching the cow try to lick him and the loving belly rub that he gave to a giant pig.
The farm itself is beautiful, the animals have lots of room to roam, the pigs have a pond to swim in and the chickens even have air conditioning!
After our tour we had a lunch at one of the picnic tables in their courtyard, peanut butter sandwiches, bananas and popcorn. FYI- If you pack a picnic for the Farm Sanctuary, they ask that all of the food be vegan.
I am finding that it is a very fine line between giving your child information about how food (specifically meat and dairy) gets on their plate, and scarring them for life. I know that Leo loved meeting and cuddling all of the animals but I think back to his chicken taco dilemma and I am not sure that this trip brought him any closer to the answer. How did we get this place of treating animals so poorly, I don’t even want my four year old to know about it because it is so brutal and hateful? There is so much to process and so much to learn that I am finding it incredibly overwhelming. This is definitely going to be a struggle with Leo but I love that he is making compassionate choices at such a young age.