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Pinke: Speaking out on the ‘Being a Vegetarian’ elementary worksheet

The words across the top of our fifth-grade daughter’s word study and vocabulary worksheet said: “Being a Vegetarian.” Normally, our girls put their school papers in the wire file folders hanging on our kitchen wall, but Elizabeth left this particular worksheet on the dining room table. She didn’t mention anything about it, but she put the paper where I would find it right away when I came home.

She didn’t agree with it — and knew I wouldn’t either.

You can be a vegetarian. It’s your choice. We teach that in our meat-eating home. Our disgust with the worksheet centered on the fact it teaches vegetarianism and a vegan lifestyle.

I’ve never seen my kids bring home any worksheets about including meat in your diet.

Vegetarianism has nothing to do with vocabulary in fifth grade. The covert motive is about indoctrinating children at a young age to change their food choices. It’s frustrating and reminds me we have work to do.

Animal rights activists have been infiltrating youth programs, churches and clearly public education curriculum to impact change. Even in our rural area, where agriculture drives our economy, our children might not know to stand up for food choices and animal agriculture.

It’s our responsibility to teach them.

Elizabeth knew to call out the worksheet that said vegetarians and vegans “wish to adopt a lifestyle that is harmless to all animals, including humans.” It also said, “avoiding meat is more healthful and promotes wellness.”

Wait. Stop.

As a meat eater, my fifth-grader is being taught her food choices are less than that of a vegan or vegetarian. No child or adult should be made to feel inferior because of their food choices. By completing a routine worksheet assignment, my fifth-grader was put in a situation where she could feel like she’s harming animals, and possibly humans, by eating meat? Does she think she’s not as healthy because she eats meat? While that might be the goal of those writing the curriculum, our daughter thankfully knows the truth from her farm, 4-H and home experiences. Eating meat is a healthy food choice that provides key vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

At age 11, our daughter also understands the difference between a food animal and a pet. Our two dogs and five outside barn cats are pets. The cattle my uncle raises are food animals. The deer we hunted this past fall stock our freezers with venison as does the half a beef, a hog and a lamb we bought from friends.

The madness of pitting one food choice against another needs to stop.

Vegan and vegetarian choices are just that, choices. Let’s celebrate food choices — and stop allowing animal rights activists to “educate” our children and try to end production agriculture. Be on the lookout for hidden messages, and take the time to teach your kids and others about all kinds of farming and ranching practices and the food, fiber, and fuel it produces. After all, if those of us involved in and connected to agriculture don’t speak up, who will?