Noting evidence of increased interest in animal welfare and decreased levels of agricultural literacy, Bray and colleagues (2016) investigated how parents talk to children about the sources of the meat they consume. This study was conducted in Australia, which has one of the highest rates of meat consumption in the world. Among other research questions, the authors investigated parents’ perceptions of the appropriate age at which to discuss the origin of meat with children. Of the 225 parents who responded to an online survey, nearly a third stated that these discussions should occur when children are between ages 0-2 and nearly a quarter of respondents stated they should occur when children are between ages 3-5. Bray and colleagues (2016) explained that children younger than 7 are unlikely to understand key concepts associated with death, such as irreversibility and causality. As compared to participants from rural areas, parents from urban areas were less likely to discuss meat production with their children, were more uncomfortable doing so, and reported greater distress in their children as a result of these discussions.
Talking to Children about Meat Production
Bray, H. J., Zambrano, S. C., Chur-Hansen-A., & Ankeny, R. A. (2016). Not appropriate dinner table conversation? Appetite, 100, 1-9.
Child development Cognitive development Death Moral developmentMedia Supplement
This Youtube video demonstrates a 3 year old’s logic regarding meat consumption. [2 min 55 sec] This University of Rochester Medical Center webpage explains how developmental level and experience shape a child’s understanding of death.