|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
17th World Vegetarian Congress 1963
CHILDREN AND VEGETARIANISM
Let us study the subject carefully from all angles, and having made up our minds that a vegetarian regime answers all the questions satisfactorily, let us adhere to it happily and confidently-and our children will thrive on it!
We are all agreed that breast feeding is the best possible start for
any infant. And we even hope that the baby may imbibe the vegetarian
ideal from a vegetarian mother with the breast milk! Be that as it may-the
easist phase of vegetarian feeding is in infancy, when our children
are wholly under our control and influence.
Fortunately we as mothers can help a great deal by providing a really
varied and attractive vegetarian diet. Children like to bring their
friends home, and we want to make them proud of our meals. This can
easily be done by providing good fruit and fruit dishes, interesting
salads including whole carrots, pieces of cauli-flower, etc., which
children often prefer to grated vegetables, and which are necessary
for the development of sound teeth. To this we add milk, crusty wholemeal
bread and rolls (home-made if possible), and a variety of cheeses. There
is also an infinite variety of savouries (for additional sources of
protein), and soups to delight the young palates. All these can be prepared
from really wholesome ingredients which encourage optimal growth and
Children love animals and feel close to them. Few children like meat
to start with, many have to be forced to eat it. Which child would like
to kill a chicken or a lamb or any other animal? Which child would like
to eat meat after a visit to a slaughterhouse? Vegetarianism provides
We know that sound habits formed in early childhood remain a powerful
influence in adult life. A child brought up on a liberal vegetarian
regime is more likely to adhere to vegetarianism in later life if the
associations with home feeding are pleasant ones.
We must remember that a normal, healthy child is not interested in
diet reform as such-but abhors cruelty, specially if its parents do
the same. And a vital factor is the parent's example. If we as parents
can succeed in instilling the positive and pleasant aspects of vegetarianism
into our children we shall do a lot for the future of the movement,
and the youngsters are more Likely to follow our example if we use loving
persuasion and sensible arguments with the older children.
Let us therefore lay sound foundations and build our house on the rock
of love and compassion for all life and not on the sands of changing
fashions, of diet systems - one day separating these another day those
foods. Let us make sure that meal-time atmospheres are pleasant and
free from hurtful criticism.
And let us remember above all things that "Man does not like by
bread alone" and that even the most perfect physical diet is sadly
lacking in "spiritual vitamins" without the sure background
of parental love and affection.
Let us bring up our children to love " All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small . . ."
I have been deeply impressed by the example of our Spanish friends.
They seem to have a close bond of affection with their children, a warm
hearted relationship full of gaiety and much laughter. They have much
to teach us in this respect.
I am fortunate in standing here before you with my dear husband the father of our five children. Parentage has taught us humility. As dieticians we long for our children to eat wholesome foods, to avoid the widespread deficiency foods. As ethical vegetarians we long for our children to adhere to the principles of humaneness in diet. It's a challenge to parents and children alike-a challenge in which we must avoid the pitfalls of fanaticism on the one hand, and of indulgence and "laissez faire" on the other hand.
Let us do the best we can in co-operation with the younger generation
on whom rests the future of Vegetarianism as a way of life-a way out
of cruelty - " Why kill for Food ?"