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Grandma Tries to Trick Her 4-Year-Old Plant-Based Grandson into Eating Meat

Grandma Tries to Trick Her 4-Year-Old Plant-Based Grandson into Eating Meat

I’ve never quite understood why so many people who eat meat, get annoyed or offended by people who follow a vegan diet. Being an omnivore myself, I’m of the opinion that what another person decides to eat is entirely up to them, but not everyone is so keen to live and let live in this way. Taking to Reddit, one woman explains how the rest of her and her husband’s family are very unaccommodating of their food choices. In fact, her MIL once insisted on throwing her son a birthday party, but then told him to bring his own food as everyone else would be eating pizza, cake and ice-cream. Would it really be so hard to offer some basic vegan options?

The real issue arose though when aforementioned MIL decided to try to trick her four-year-old grandson into eating a beef burger at a recent family gathering. As his mum explains “My partner and I have been vegan for years. We have a 4 year old son who eats the same things as us, so for now is also plant-based.We have always said that our goal will be to instill vegan values in him, but that ultimately, once he gets to the age where he starts to have more autonomy, he won’t be punished or anything for choosing to consume animal products when presented with the opportunity–that will be his choice. Though of course it would be a (secret) bummer for us, lol. But that’s why we refer to him as plant-based rather than vegan, until he chooses that label for himself, basically.”

Knowing this, grandma decided she’d test her son and his wife by offering her grandson a bite of her burger. We are assuming she was hoping that he would like the burger, and then she could tell his parents that they were depriving him of foods he wanted. But her little power play didn’t go quite as she had anticipated.

Last weekend we went to a BBQ at a relative’s house. Per usual, we brought our own food. Veggie dogs.

My son was sitting on my MILs lap with his veggie dog and she was eating a (beef) burger. She asked him if he wanted a bite. This is the first time I’ve seen her offer him meat. She wasn’t trying to be sneaky about it. I think that by asking in front of me, she was testing the waters a bit regarding our earlier statements about him having the choice to eat animal products if he wanted to.

He said, “is it cow or veggie?” (we eat plenty of veggie burgers, veggie nuggets, etc so he knows to ask what things are made of)

MIL said “no honey, it’s beef.”


He said “Beef?”

She said “yes, it’s good! Try a bite.”

I was sitting across the table and watching my son process her answer, which in my opinion was intentionally indirect, so I offered, “beef is another word for cow.”

My son said, “cow???” and pulled a kind of shocked face, which actually surprised me because he knows most other people eat animals, but he acted like this was unheard of lol.


My MIL gave me such a dirty look. My son did not try her burger, ate a few more bites of his veggie dog, and went to play. My MIL got up and went inside and I didn’t see her for the rest of the BBQ.

Later, my FIL called my husband berating him for allowing me to “drive a wedge between your mother and her only grandchild by making him think she is an animal killer or something” (this is close to verbatim), that I can’t “keep him from eating normal food” forever, and I should apologize.

We don’t think I did anything wrong, but my BIL texted my husband also, said he thinks their parents are overreacting but that I should have not been “so specific about what beef is” and that it DOES seem like I was trying to throw my MIL under the bus.


The comments about keeping him from eating ‘normal food’ is very telling about her in-laws attitude to their veganism. They clearly disapprove of their diet choices and their choice to bring up their son in a plant-based diet, and grandma had blatantly tried to undermine their parenting choices. Not only that, she tried to trick the little boy by using a term that he wasn’t familiar with in an attempt to cover up that she was offering him an animal product.

As many commenters were quick to point out, it’s important to teach children where their food comes from whether they are meat eaters or not.

NTA Plenty of people explain to their children that beef is cow, vegan or not, because that’s a good way for kids to understand. Also good on you guys for not forcing him to be vegan when he’s old enough to choose! That’s awesome! (HaloCorp)

NTA. I grew up with traditional meat served at every meal and my parents taught us where the meat comes from, not in a traumatic way. This is important for children to know. I am vegan by no means, but have cut most dairy and meat out of my diet. Your MIL knew what she was doing from the jump, and now getting people all mad and on her side is the new manipulative tactic. There’s no reason for any of this except she wanted to get your kid to eat beef and rub it in your face. This has to be frustrating as all hell. (MonkeyBirdWeird)

Others pointed out that it was likely discovering his grandma had lied to him that shocked the little boy more than the fact she was eating meat.

Almost like the MIL drove the wedge herself by proving to the child that she is capable of lying to him when it comes to food… (FlossieOnyx)

Your MIL deliberately tried to trick your son into eating meat. He asked a direct question (is it cow or veggie) and she outright lied, saying “no” and pretending like it’s something other than those two. It’s not about food here, it’s about lying to a child. (Helpful_Hour1984)

Yup. Kid asked in terms he knew and MIL deliberately sidestepped it by introducing an unfamiliar term and structuring her response to make it sound like something unrelated. Might not technically be a lie, but it’s a lie in spirit and practice. (YawningDodo)

Grandma literally lied. Kid asked if it was cow and she said no to trick him into eating it. She’s not upset that that she looks bad for eating meat, she’s upset that she was called out on lying to a 4-year-old to spite the parents. (ConsistentContent)

It’s a classic defensive response. MiL does look bad because she lied, and got caught without OP making a whole scene out of it. I think OP could not have handled this better.

I’m picturing MIL in a certain age and in my experience, they CANT be wrong or embarrassed. The shame associated with that is too much, so they lash out. She’ll get over it but OP going to have to keep her ears and eyes open, and be prepared to prepare the child to watch for the trickery. (Mrs Wilson6)

Many commenters praised the mum for her handling of the situation and her MIL. As one person said

“You honestly didn’t even react at all. You answered your son’s question in a way you knew he’d understand. Reacting would’ve been saying “don’t eat that it’s cow!” Or getting mad at your MIL for offering meat to your child when she knows you’d disagree. You had every right to tell her off but you didn’t, you calmly offered your son information and let him make his own decision which he did. She’s upset because she’s guilty and was hoping your son would try it, like it, and she could have a reason to tell you you should be feeding your son meat because he wants it.”

We couldn’t agree more.

What would you have done in this mum’s situation?

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Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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