Something I only recently considered…

When my little sister was born, my mum decided that she wouldn’t give her any meat in her diet. I’m not 100% on her reasons why, particularly since neither of my parents were vegetarians at the time (neither was I), but I think it might have been because the whole Mad Cow Disease thing was kicking off over here (UK). I also remember my mum saying to me “she should have the right to choose if she eats meat - how can she make that choice if I’m giving it to her when she can’t say no?”

So my sister was raised on a vegetarian diet, but grew up with the rest of us eating meat as meal times with her. Meat was never discussed with her as being a “bad” thing to her. However, when she became old enough to understand that she wasn’t eating a part of the meal that we were, or that she had an entirely different meal altogether, she began to question exactly what it was that we were eating. We told her, without beating around the bush. “This is beef, it comes from cows”, or whatever is was we were having. She was horrified, asking us why we would ever want to eat an animal.

Over the years, there was a point (I think when she started junior school, probably around age 8?) that she was curious about meat and she tried some gammon. She didn’t really like it, and to be honest kinda freaked out that she had eaten a part of an animal.

She is now 12 years old, captain of the school netball team and plays netball for the adult league in our city; she was registered as Gifted and Talented at her school from the age of 4 and is top of her class, receiving a scholarship to a private school based on her intelligence; she is almost never sick - even when there are bugs going round her class… And she is still vegetarian, with an aim of going vegan. I have no doubt that, had she been raised vegan, she would not have started to consume eggs or dairy through choice either. In actual fact she cannot stand to eat either in their natural form, but has them in other foods (as ingredients).

If meat eating is such a “natural” thing, and we are designed to consume flesh, then why does my sister still choose not to? Surely, her “natural instinct” to eat meat would have taken over at some point in the past 12 years: she was certainly free to start eating it with us at any point she wanted to. If eating meat is “crucial” to our health and development, then why is she flourishing in academics, sport and general well-being?

I honestly believe that no human is born an omnivore, they are raised omnivores, and I think my sister’s case goes to prove that in some way.