Children and Animals: A Relationship Built by Environment
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Children and animals have an interesting bond. The disconnect between animals on the plate and non-food animals is taught, not inherent.
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This weekend I caught the latest episode of The Little Couple on TLC – it was Easter time, and Bill and Jen took their kids to a farm to see the “bawk bawks.” When four-year-old Will said “Eat?” Jen pointed out that they wouldn’t be eating these bawk bawks, because they were pets. Bill made many references to how his children prefer their chickens: on rolls, in nuggets, with dipping sauce. It made me sad.
The episode reminded me that children are a product of their environment. I don’t believe that most of them are born expecting to consume animals because “that’s what we do”. But if, in fact, that’s what we do in this family, at this table, and there’s nothing and no one out there telling us there’s another option… Well, no wonder there aren’t more young vegans. How would a five-year old know any different?
Over the course of the past couple of seasons of The Little Couple, we’ve seen Will interact with lots of animals. He fed a giraffe at a zoo and an elephant in India with complete joy on his face. The family has two dogs at home. I think how Will – and perhaps his sister, Zoey, as she gets older – interacts with animals looks and feels very status quo when compared to children I’ve known. That fascination with and happiness about interacting with animals will grow as it’s cultivated… but so will the disconnect between the animals on the farm and the animals on the plate.
I long for the day when we see a reality show about a vegan couple raising their kids, bringing the family to a farm sanctuary and explaining to them why they don’t eat animals. I hope that day comes soon. Both children and animals need it to.
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