How to answer diet questions from kids. What do you do when your child asks questions about your plant-based diet? It depends on their age, but we recommend these 3 key tips.
Even though a predominantly plant-based diet has become much more socially acceptable over the last several years, it’s still not the norm for most of the world.
That’s why many people have questions when they find out we don’t eat meat.
Although in our experience, this usually comes from a place of genuine curiosity – and even self-reflection from the asker – rather than from a place of criticism.
And these conversations can be really fun to have! We love helping people try new things with their diet, especially when that means getting more plants on the plate for their families, too.
But more recently, we’ve been receiving questions from our own children as they get a little older.
If you have babies or toddlers, chances are good that you haven’t gotten here yet. But it’s coming!
As children experience new social environments outside the home and spend more time around peers, they become more aware that how they eat at home is likely different from how others may eat. A big difference is often whether another family consumes meat.
We like to keep three main things in mind when our kids ask questions about how our family eats. If you’re wondering how to answer diet questions from kids, consider the following points.
1. Be honest
If you’ve read some of our other posts, like the one on hiding vegetables, you already know that we prefer transparency with our kids about what we’re feeding them.
Some of the most common questions you might expect from plant-based kids would be, “why don’t we eat animals?” and “why does [insert friend’s name here] eat animals?”
And these are valid questions! They show that your child has a sense of awareness of the differences between their household and others, which should be acknowledged.
How you choose to answer these types of questions, of course, is up to you.
For many families, this means providing a basic explanation about being kind to animals, caring for the environment through food choices, or nourishing their bodies with a predominantly plant-based diet – or perhaps a combination. It really depends on what your unique family’s diet pattern looks like and what values are important for you to teach your kids.
As for the question about other families, you can always point out that every family has different rules or values. Just because one friend does something, doesn’t mean another will do the same thing or in the same way. And that also doesn’t mean one is right or wrong.
2. Be age-appropriate
It can be hard to craft responses on the spot when your child first starts asking these questions because you’re also gauging age-appropriateness. And this is important.
While you may be used to having conversations about things like personal health or ethics with your adult peers, this doesn’t translate well to kids.
We also don’t love to talk about foods as being “good” or “bad” or steering the conversation into anything related to weight or body image.
One way we approach all sorts of tougher topics with our kids is by asking them questions in response. For example, asking, “what do you think about that?” or “why do you think that is?” is a great way to engage young kids, without overwhelming them with information that may be too much to process.
This all depends on your kids, though. We recommend keeping it surface level while they are young, with things like:
- Plant foods are so yummy and make great fuel for our bodies! What is your favorite fruit and vegetable?
- What do you like about eating plant foods? What do you dislike about it?
- How do you feel when you eat (beans, greens, tofu, etc. – whatever your family eats regularly)?
- If you could change one thing about how our family eats, what would it be?
3. Be inclusive
Your family’s diet pattern doesn’t look exactly like everyone else’s, and that’s okay. The last thing we want is for diet to be something that either makes our kids feel excluded or feel like they should exclude others.
While what we choose to feed our families can be an important reflection of our personal values, it’s not meant to define us. Plant-based kids can feel like the minority when in social situations, but we can also take the opportunity to empower them as role models at a young age.
This is a great topic to help them not only feel confident in themselves but also to be accepting of others who may not eat the same way they do.
Talking about these differences in an inclusive and celebratory way is key. Your child can feel empowered by sharing plant-based treats from home for their birthday or bringing in other animal-free snacks at this age.
However you choose to handle how to answer diet questions from kids should reflect what works best for your family. We suggest keeping inclusion, honesty, and age in mind when crafting your responses; there’s no one particular way this should look. At the end of the day, remember that you’re doing a great job!
Chime In: Have your kids asked questions about your family’s diet? How have you responded? Share your experience in the comments!
If you found this post to be helpful, we think you should read these too: