By Jo Moon
There have been numerous outbreaks of diseases, supposedly originating from meat or animal products in Europe. These outbreaks should act as warnings that something we are doing is not right. Eating dead animals who have been inhumanely treated, probably for an entire lifetime, then cruelly slaughtered is not right. Many would argue against this and give every reason why it is acceptable to eat the animal kingdom.
Children may be brought up to believe that it is quite normal to eat animals and may not even make the connection between live animals in fields and animals who appear in packages on supermarket shelves. Packaging is indeed very misleading and makes meat have little resemblance to the original poor animal.
If children were given a choice as to whether they feel happy eating a dead animal or not this at least gives them the option of exploring the subject. Schools could devote an entire lesson to the food we eat. Children need to be aware of where food comes from, what happens to it and how to eat a wholesome diet. They need to understand what different foods do to their bodies and minds. What will help them think clearer and be alert? What will calm them? What may cause them to feel hyperactive or irritated? Adult teachers with sound knowledge of these issues would need to teach such classes.
The moral and health implications of eating meat needs to be looked at carefully. Do children really know and understand what meat is? They bumble off on school trips and family outings to see happy lambs in fields, but are they making the connection between these animals and what will end up in their little stomachs one day? How do they really feel about that?
Children are unlikely to be taught about these issues at home by meat eating parents and they are currently not taught about such things at school, at least not in the UK. But children need to know, and not be kept in the dark about their food so they can make wise decisions for themselves. Packaged up meat and dead animals disguised as trendy burgers and take-aways do a lot to convince kids that eating meat is the normal, acceptable and cool thing to do. They need to be told the other side of the story. Dietary health and cooking are skills and knowledge crucial for our well being and growth as human beings therefore for our global health. Children are currently given incomplete information on these subjects.
Children could be asked whether they would eat their pets: hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs and cats.
Their reactions may be interesting. Of course, to many the idea would be shocking. Would they still eat lamb if they kept a pet lamb? These questions are tools for debate and would enable children and adults to think very seriously about the nature of the food they are eating, and the plight of animals on this planet.
If this issue is not confronted on a more serious level now the animals will fight back and it will no longer be feasible to eat them!