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AnnaNKrfdOnce upon a time there was a mother called Annabel who encountered a fair amount of criticism about what she chose to feed her son. It was obviously (and sadly) not the norm for parents to be educated about our food supply, soil depletion, the horrors of factory farming, the added hormones, antibiotics, pasteurized dairy milk, GMO’s, pesticides, processed grains, dangers of sugar consumption, additives, preservatives etc etc etc…

Annabel was rather perplexed at times how little many parents she met seemed to care about all this. “It’s not that bad…Relax!” was a phrase she encountered all too often, and would even overhear parents laughingly say “I feed my kids sugar all day!”

And then there were the comments which were directed at her personally like:

1 – “You are crazy about food like that Annabel…”

2 – “You have never fed your son meat Annabel??!! Poor kid….”

3 – “Annabel, your son will resent you one day for not giving him meat…”

4 – “Annabel you are too harsh, too strict, you are depriving your son, it’s not right, it is too much!!…it will affect him negatively!!”

5 – “I would never push my philosophy onto my son, (like you are Annabel) he can make his own choices…”

All this distressed her somewhat. Was she really crazy?! A mean old mother depriving her son of foods other kids were joyfully eating in abundance? She began to question her choices and look far and wide for as much information as she could find about this big topic: FOOD (as she hadn’t researched this before at all and realized she needed to educate herself as others obviously had). Luckily she did not have to look too far or too wide as there was an abundant array of books, articles, documentaries readily available, written/produced by some rather intelligent folk about all this, encouraging people to ask questions, to research, to take the time, to make the time, to be bothered and not just take the easy and convenient route simply because the majority of the people do. And many parents she discovered had also done a bunch of research like her and come to the same conclusion as her! Annabel heaved a big sigh of relief. She wasn’t crazy or a mean old Mummy at all! Just in the minority “I care about this” educated opinion not the majority “I don’t really care much” uneducated opinion. She could handle that!

Back to the 1 – 5 points directed at her rather passionately this year. Addressing each one Annabel took a deep breath and calmly said:

1 – “You are crazy and weird about food like that Annabel…”

1 – This has been said to me by friends and family members specifically about meat. I don’t believe I am crazy and weird, I just happen to care a lot about where our food comes from, about what I feed my son and I care deeply about animals…how they have lived and how they have died…just like you probably care about dogs and cats and wouldn’t eat them…I have chosen not to eat other animals because I see them as all the same. I will not choose one over the other. The cows, pigs, chickens and sheep cannot speak for themselves, they are forced to do what we humans “confine them to do” and that to me is heartbreaking. If you consider me crazy and weird then so be it. I call it compassion and respect for all BEings. I have met people appalled at how people in Asia and other parts of the world can eat dogs and cats. How could they?! I hear them say. Well I say why not? You eat cows, pigs, chickens and sheep…what’s the difference? I feel exactly this way about you eating these other animals. I have spent quite a lot of time with farm animals and they are just like dogs and cats and horses…have personalities, want a cuddle, affection, follow you around, give kisses. I have been called crazy for admitting I would find it hard to live with someone who ate meat/kept meat in the fridge for example. When I ask the question if this person would find it hard to live with someone who kept dog and cat meat in the fridge they immediately respond with: That’s not the same! Or that’s awful! Well…no comment.

“People wish to be settled. Only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.” – Emerson

2 – “You have never fed your son meat Annabel??!! Poor kid….”

2 – This comment was made at a kids Birthday party when I declined the (what looked like) Kentucky fried style chicken for my son. It was met by a gasp of horror by a man at this party and he questioned my decision. When I asked him if he knew anything about the meat industry…he said something like “what’s there to know?” I could hear through the door after we left his incredulous comments about me not giving my son this “chicken meat.” Can you imagine I heard through the door not ever having given your child meat?!!

I happen to care…really care about what my son puts into his little body. And I am never going to be one of those parents that wave their hand in the air laughing saying: Yeah I feed my kids sugar the whole day….or what’s the harm, it’s not that bad and what difference does it really make?

“It is nothing less than a form of violence to attempt to win children over to the toxic poisons, the coarse flavour and the unsympathetic texture of animal flesh.” – Jon Wynne-Tyson

3 – “Annabel, your son will resent you one day for not giving him meat…”

3 -I do not believe my son will resent me for not giving him meat, just like I do not resent my parents for giving me meat. Maybe my son will resent me for something else, but not this!

4 – “Annabel you are too harsh, too strict, you are depriving your son, it’s not right, it is too much!!…it will affect him negatively!!”

4 – This was said to me by a friend at a party in front of other people after I declined a little carton of choc dairy milk for my son at 6pm as she handed one to her son. I wonder…People make judgements based on what exactly? This friend had no idea what I had given Noakai that day. He had had a choc muffin, some biscuits…enough “treats” for the day. And regardless of the fact that I never give my son choc pasteurized dairy milk to drink…He loves his coconut milk or homemade hemp milk. That is a choice I have the right to make. I feel it is easier for some people to give their kids what is easy and convenient than go to the effort to research for other healthy, delicious recipes, or to take a selection of healthy snacks with them wherever they go. My son is a “picky eater” I hear parents say handing him a box of french fries and laughing at me for not giving any to Noakai in that moment. Well, he didn’t even want them! Yes of course it takes more time and effort to come up with new and unique dishes, but these options are not any less “good” or “fun” or “yummy”! I give him a healthy array of foods and he is a happy and healthy boy. And just because my friend is choosing this for her son at this moment, does not mean I have to choose this at the same moment for my son.

Some of the treats Noakai gets: Banana bread, muffins, cookies, pancakes, ice-cream…I do not believe that I am depriving my son in any way. And other parents that I know that are raising their children in a more health conscious way are not depriving their children either. And they are not crazy or weird…either.

Noakai does not even look twice at the ice-cream truck when it comes, although all the other kids are standing around eating. No crying for ice-cream. He knows we make our own at home…and they are yummy. Pureed bananas with coconut milk and honey, pure watermelon juice, mango juice, orange juice etc….minus all the additives and preservatives. He didn’t look twice at the endless array of little lollipops at a kids party recently and when we pass the candy selection in a store he looks up at me and says very seriously: I don’t eat this mummy, it is not good for me…I don’t want it. Of course I realize that this could change at any moment given what he sees around him/other kids do…and that’s ok. If he wants it he can have what the majority of kids have some of the time, but the majority of the time he won’t and I will be sure to educate him about food and where it all comes from…so that when he makes all his own decisions one day they will at least be from an educated standpoint…whichever way he might choose.

“There’s nothing more difficult than waking someone who is only pretending to be asleep.” – Bishop Desmond Tutu

5 – “I would never push my philosophy onto my son, (like you are Annabel) he can make his own choices…”

5 – This comment was made by someone during a conversation about meat and whether or not we offer it to our children. She does not eat meat but offers her son meat. I had said that I don’t offer my son meat. My question though is: Isn’t everything a philosophy/personal decision when it comes to parenting? Religion, types of toys…wooden or plastic, co sleeping or not, vaccinations or not, TV or not…etc etc…And why is not giving your child meat imposing a philosophy whilst giving your child meat isn’t? Like giving your child meat is the way it is somehow meant to be? The best way? There are many schools of thought that actually believe it healthier not to eat meat. And whether you give your child meat or not they will one day make their own decision about that and everything else that you have “imposed upon” them. Am I passionate about my philosophy? Yes! The majority of meat in this country comes from factory farms that treat their animals appallingly, inhumanely…they cannot even lie down properly, move around comfortably…they are fed GMO grains and given antibiotics to combat any number of diseases, growth hormones rBGH (to get them to slaughter more quickly which have been banned in the EU, Australia, Canada and Japan…but not the US), and hormones to dairy cows to produce more milk…Quite frankly I find it all rather horrendous. And I am proud of passing my philosophy about all this onto my son and I will never support industries that treat animals this way.

“First, live a compassionate life. Then you will know.” – Buddha

“If we look at animals in general, we realize that there is probably no more fundamental and essential teaching given by parent to offspring than how to feed. In finding, preparing and eating food, adults of every species teach their young both directly and by example. We humans are no exception. In fact, because we are as infants more vulnerable than other animals, food education is even more important to us. The earliest and most basic connections we have with our parents are around food and eating.” – Will Tuttle Ph. D.

Annabel sat there looking at all the endless information before her about food and where it all comes from and she felt proud of the choices she was making for her son and the effort she was going to to educate him.

Annabel’s closing statement was this:

I used to love eating burgers, Sunday roast, a bacon sandwich...yummy….But I just couldn’t any more when I realized that the majority of farm animals suffer terribly on a daily basis. And so I made a commitment to try every single day to do my best in alleviating the suffering of animals in the world by educating myself about where food comes from, by purchasing wisely, by spending the extra few dollars on eggs, on (raw) cheese and by buying only from certain companies and by being conscious of the fact that each and every item of food that I buy does make a difference in the chain of cause and affect…in the bigger picture. It makes a difference. Others inspire me on my journey and I hope that I can inspire others to think twice about the food they buy for themselves and their children, to look beyond the shiny packaging, to question, to wonder…to do ones best and to know that it all really does matter.

The End.

By Annabel Ruffell

“The most violent weapon on earth is the table fork.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“We must fight against the spirit of unconsciousness cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do…It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it.” – Albert Schweitzer

“Animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than blacks were made for whites or women for men.” – Alice Walker

“All beings tremble before violence. All fear death. All love life. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do? – Buddha

“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That is the essence of inhumanity.” – George Bernard Shaw

“As we force animals to be fat, diseased, overcrowded, anxious, and stressed, we become the same. As we feed them unnaturally processed, chemical-laden foods, we find our grocery stores filled with similarly toxic products posing as food. As we confine them to little boxes, we find ourselves confined in office cubicles of our own making. As we ignore animal suffering, we ignore each other’s suffering. As we deny animals their dignity and privacy, we deny our own dignity and find our own privacy being increasingly eroded. As we enforce powerlessness on them, we feel increasingly powerless. As we reduce them to mere commodities, we become mere commodities ourselves. As we destroy their ability to fulfill their purpose, we lose track of our purpose. As we deny them rights, we lose our own rights. As we enslave them, we become slaves ourselves. As we break their spirits, our own spirits are broken. As we sow, we reap.” – Will Tuttle, The World Peace Diet

“Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences.”  – Robert Louis Stevenson


What Journey are YOU on?