I’m sure you’ve all seen that cute little talking pig, Babe….. if you haven’t, please, watch with caution and I’ll tell you why…….
Like most parents on a wet, windy day, it’s a very appealing option to put on a movie and enjoy that small window of silence while the kids chomp on popcorn and fixate on the tv screen. Little did I know, that in that one hour of ‘silence’, my life would change forever.
Sounds drastic right? Well, the fact I now have to make two separate breakfasts, lunch and dinner, buy separate cooking utensils and scrutinise every single label on every single item of clothing, food and toiletries means life ‘Post-Babe’ is very different.
As I remember it (or thought I did) ‘Babe’ was a fun film with a cute little pig that could talk who had lots of friends on the farm…. my almost 5 and 2 year old (at the time) would surely love it?
What could possibly go wrong? So, about ten minutes into the film, Babe’s mum is taken to the slaughterhouse – it’s mentioned briefly for a split second and I don’t even remember noticing it the previous three times I’ve watched it.
However, hawk eyes (my eldest daughter) grabbed the remote and pressed pause. I could see the cogs in her brain turning and her face scrunch up as she started to process the information……. a slaughterhouse? I held my breath hoping she wouldn’t ask the question as I couldn’t lie to her, not about this.
After a few moments of me trying to fast forward, “Mammy, you know chicken? Well it’s not actually a chicken is it? It’s just got the same name hasn’t it? Coz no one would actually eat a chicken hahah,” she laughed.
SHIT….. the horror on her face when she realised not only was it really a fluffy chicken, that beef was a beautiful cow and a fish was actually Nemo. I’ve never felt like a worse mother than in that moment. “But why would you murder an animal and then make me and Ava eat it?” I actually wasn’t really sure when she put it like that.
After explaining that I don’t personally ‘murder’ the animals and trying to play down the whole thing, I could see she was still thinking about it all and it wasn’t going to end there. My hour of peace and quiet had gone downhill and was headed even further in that direction.
All of the questions then ended with her asking what would happen if she didn’t want to eat dead animals anymore and if that was allowed.
This is the defining moment…. a lot of people tell me that at this point I shouldn’t have given her the option. I should have made up some kind of excuse and continued watching the movie.
But I just couldn’t do that and so I explained to her about vegetarianism.
The rest they say is history. From that moment on she has been (totally by her choice) a vegetarian. Most friends and family thought it would be a passing phase (as did I if I’m honest) but her love of animals and strong beliefs are admirable for someone of such a young age. How could I not support her? She was standing up for something she believed in…. one of the qualities I am raising my girls to have.
As parents, we had to make the decision to commit to supporting her choice and doing everything we could to make sure she got a healthy vegetarian diet and that her wishes were respected for as long as she wanted to be a vegetarian. Whilst secretly hoping it would just last the weekend and she would admit defeat.
Roll forward almost 4 years and she is thriving on a vegetarian diet. She refuses to wear leather, checks all household products that they aren’t tested on animals, doesn’t eat sweets containing gelatine (her choice) and dreams of a future surrounded by animals.
For us it is hard and sometimes I do wish she would just eat meat. Some days I can’t be arsed making the two different versions of the same meal or having separate pots and pans that haven’t touched meat and making sure they never do! You might think (and we have been told) that we are pandering to her and at 8, she should just get what she’s given. But, surely if an 8 year old can have such strong values and beliefs then we have to do everything we can to support them?
I’m not sure whether she would have eventually come to the same decision without Babe and whether there is any truth to the nature/nurture argument.
My youngest is a little older now than Amelia was when she made that decision BUT Ava still loves meat , even though she knows exactly where it comes from and has known her sister as a veggie most of her life.
So a word of caution for these upcoming summer holidays – if you’re thinking of showing your kids ‘Babe’, be warned…. it totally changed my life!