This month is 19 years that I've been a vegetarian. My children, who are ages 8 and 10, have been vegetarian since conception. When people hear that I'm a vegetarian and have children they often ask me if I impose my vegetarian beliefs on my children, or are they allowed to decide for themselves if they want to meat or not.
I find this to be a common and interesting question. And my response is "You damn right that impose my beliefs on my chidren, don't you?"
Every parent out there imposes their beliefs on their children. Whether it be a particular religion, their position on pre-marital sex, or drug use. No matter what the issue is, parents are teaching what they believe on the issue to their children. And they should be! That's part of what parenting is all about. We teach our children what we believe is right and wrong, even if it may differ with the parent next door. That's the freedom we have.
Those who teach their children to eat meat are also imposing their beliefs on their children. Same with those parents who teach their children to hunt, fish, go to circuses, or any number of other things. Would a Christian or Hindu parent really say they are practicing the religion, but they won't impose it on their children? That they will let their children decide for themselves? I think not!
Every time an omnivore parent gives their child meat they are also serving up a dose of of their own beliefs, whether or not they realize it. As vegetarian parents we are just more in-tune with what those beliefs are. By raising our children to be vegetarian we are teaching them to have more compassion for animals, the connection between the meat indusry and environmetnal problems, to respect life, and more.
So you damn right I'm imposing my beliefs on my children. All parents do. But not all parents are that aware of what their beliefs may be teaching their child.