Childhood likes and dislikes are signs for adulthood
This insight shall not take anything away from the parent or guardian—my honest feedback is based on how I was that child who wouldn’t eat meat. I refused meat in my childhood, and now my current food lifestyle mirrors what I didn’t want: meat or fish. ‘Child refuses to eat meat,’ is an unpopular topic but gives adults clues into a child’s intuitive wish, and decrees: Bad relationships with food occur when a child’s decrees are dismissed. Like, how I experienced an eating disorder and it went unnoticed. Certain childhood memories haunt us for a reason. Those flashbacks resurface unexpectedly, no matter how much I tried to pretend or forget about them. Food in Liberia is plenty. Scarcity exists in adults not knowing what is a good meat substitute or what are meatless high-protein meals. I hope my childhood story inspires guardians, and parents alike to monitor a child’s likes and dislikes. After all, within those ‘signs’ are gems that help a child thrive/survive in a world with hostile normalcy.
Like pie slices, responsibility is divided amongst each person, children included. Are you willing to take your share?
Definition of terms
‘Child’ is a broad term that means infant, toddler, teenager, and adult dependents. In my experience, a parent’s mind has no boundary or distinction about the word child. When a parent uses the word child, it means a dependent of a parent, guardian, or caretaker.
A child won’t eat meat-Do children know their diet from Birth?
After I overcame my bad relationship with food in adulthood, I often wondered if I was meant to eat plant-based foods from birth. It seems locals know about vegetarian African food in Liberia because my refusal to eat meat during childhood ushered in meatless high-protein meals and suggestions from other mothers who guided my mother. Before my mother transitioned to the ancestral world, she told me this story during my adolescence.
This story came up because I refused to eat the soup my caretakers cooked that day and I was bothering her for money so I could buy African fast food. She laughed and began to tell me how I am still a picky eater just like when I was a baby. My mother said when she stopped breastfeeding to transition me to formula or African meals, I refused it all. She said she tried soft rice with palm oil and other tactics ( for food in Liberia, some mothers would grind dried boney/herring into soft rice with palm oil). Some babies like this but I refused it all. She said I refused almost everything except for simple plantain porridge meals. In her words:
Below are examples of vegetarian African foods that make me drunk with happiness.
Related: Millet Porridge
Vegetarian African food and plant-based options
Behold, plantain meals continue to support me in the form of plantain fufu with pepper soup, one of the many meatless high-protein meals. I didn’t know this story would later help to heal my bad relationship with food and affirm/confirm what I should be eating, which is meatless food and powdery starchy plants. This story helps me confidently speak up about foods like porridge which isn’t a mainstream food people think of in their search for meatless high protein meals or what is a good meat substitute. When trying to find answers on what to do when a child refuses to eat meat, look to plants other than broccoli, peas, or carrots. These options are laughable because adults don’t even like those things but expect a child to. Below are popular top-ranking questions about a child who refuses to eat meat:
|Real-life popular internet questions – Child refuses to eat meat|
|How do I encourage my child to eat meat?|
|Is it normal for children not to eat meat?|
|Why is meat important for children? (Justification stance)|
|My 5 year old doesn’t want to eat meat?|
|How to hide meat in toddler food? (They’re not stupid!)|
|… and so many more|
Does a child Know What to Eat & Not Eat?
It depends. Can society in general respect, honor, and abide by what foods a child likes or refuses? Honestly, it is noticeable how and why most adults have a bad relationship with food, and those adults belittle meatless foods in favor of eating animals. Let us not mention the broccoli or peas joke😊. As a child, toddler, teenager, and young adult, I was not given any room to learn/discover what is a good meat substitute. It set up the foundation to develop a bad relationship with food and ignore meatless high-protein meals.
A child refusing to eat meat is not tolerated. This is evident in the popular questions on the internet; parents/caretakers are doing this! They are too busy to slow down, so the kid needs to get on board right? Meatless high-protein meals options are sought in other places, like egg substitutes, but they do not seek solutions with plants! This is a global problem! If the child won’t eat the broccoli, peas, or eggs, they will not starve. But if they don’t eat meat then it’s the end of the world! Apart from this platform, there are countless meatless high-protein meals, deliciously colourful or flavored with texture. Please, add flavor to food. Children know the difference and blanched-plain vegetables are so passe.
I tried to get off the meat wagon during my teenage years
I believe many people who are currently on a meatless food journey are filled with stories that make parents feel bad or guilty. Parents/caretakers, please try not to feel sad or guilty; be supportive. Here’s another story of when my guardians tasked me to kill a chicken for Christmas food in Liberia. I was probably thirteen or fourteen years old when another adult in our household transferred his task to me. His logic was that I needed to learn how to kill a chicken, especially since I eat it too. You can imagine the picture of a pre-teen child with a big knife, frowning. I was scared as I looked at the chicken clucking loudly and pacing nervously as it was tied to a pole. Even as I went towards it with the knife, I clumsily dropped the knife; I just couldn’t do it!
In summary, he killed the chicken in front of me. I couldn’t get the image out no matter how hard I tried. So, I refused the very soup the chicken was cooked in that day and sold my portion to someone who wanted it. I bought coal bowl food elsewhere. There was no support to find out what is a good meat substitute. I remember not being able to stomach nor have an appetite for meat for one (1+) week. Sadly, it’s not tolerated when a child refuses to eat meat. They chastised me saying, “You better get over that and come eat!” So, I obeyed and ignored my intuition. This bad relationship with food happens in Africa, America and the rest of the world. The real-life searched questions on the internet are what adults’ actions show.
Parents might not remember the signs
I jokingly say my family should remember the signs leading up to my current plant-based or vegetarian African food lifestyle. Of course, they don’t remember and I remind them gently. Even with all the hostile, sly, and forceful tactics society collectively uses to condition dependents (children), our hearts know what’s best for us. From age 16-23, while living with my guardians in America, I refused to eat any soup with goat meat, liver, cow tongue, frogs, or snails. I even started picking out cow skin, pig feet, and chicken feet from my food and giving them to my brother or sister. I only ate fish if it was in the stew. That was the food in Liberia I ate. I got comments like, “This is what you used to eat oh! You don’t like it again?”
Yes, when a ‘child refuses to eat meat’ it lingers well past infancy. Most days, I didn’t eat the stews at home. By age 24, I started to work in corporate America and noticed that the smoked fish food smell lingered on my clothes, which caused coworkers to give me unpleasant/dirty looks. Coworkers thought I smell! How is that for trying to advance in the workplace or make friends?! Lastly, I stopped eating African meat food stews that I didn’t like and chose American/foreign fast food. I discovered my love of fresh greens through Thai & Vietnamese cuisines, and beans/lentils through Indian food. Through Chinese and Korean food, I learned what a good meat substitute is and the respect for meatless high protein meals grew. A child refuses to eat meat so they can remember vegetables.
Present Day Food Reality- We Favor Plants
No one puts a baby in the corner! You forget that that child grows up and is the future! Elders or parents, we need you to see right from wrong. Food in Liberia has many meatless high-protein meals. Adults can make room to learn what is a good meat substitute or types of meatless high-protein meals. Vegetarian African food is what saved me. This is my honest feedback and insight into how some of us developed a bad relationship with food. I might talk about my past eating disorder…maybe later. Nowadays, we the children of the future, favor plants. Nothing personal, just soulful.