Totally Quotable Arlo: “the meat just wants to go home” edition


As of a few months ago, Arlo, who just recently turned four, has decided that, with a few notable exceptions, he’s a vegetarian. I’m not sure how it started, as we never brought the subject of vegetarianism up in any substantive way, but one day he just started asking us if the food that we were serving him contained meat, pushing it away if we said that it did.

For the most part, he doesn’t want to talk about his decision. He just says that, except for bacon and “chicken nuggets,” he doesn’t eat meat. [Those are the notable exceptions that I mentioned earlier.] A few days ago, when Linette was talking with him about his decision, however, he responded by saying, “I think the meat just wants to wake up and go home.” And, as I found that really beautiful, I wanted to record it here.

As a former vegan, Arlo’s decision to give up meat is making me feel more than just a little guilty. At the same time, I’m also incredibly proud of him for having the capacity at four years old to make a decision like this and stick with it, even if I don’t quite understand why he’s chosen to make an exception for chicken nuggets, but not my homemade chicken noodle soup, which he used to absolutely love.

For what it’s worth, this announcement of Arlo’s came at a good time for us. He’s full of energy these days, and not listening incredibly well. There’s a lot of running, screaming, and boundary pushing. There’s lot of chaos. And it’s nice to be reminded that, somewhere in there, beneath all of the wildness, is a tiny spark of compassion that’s growing.

[If you’ve got a few extra minutes, be sure to check out our Totally Quotable Arlo archive.]

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  1. Kim
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    If only the meat could wake up and go home. What a sad, beautiful thought.

  2. Dan from Austin
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Nice one, Mark. I’m always impressed by the littles that make the connection about animals and food.

  3. Thom Elliott
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Where are all the cultural carnist chauvinists to berate Arlo for his white privilege? Doesn’t he know it’s racist not to eat flesh/drink blood? Doesn’t he know Africans are starving, and so he should just shut up? Tell Arlo to check his privilege for me.

  4. site admin
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Arlo’s privilege is more off-white, but he will be “checked,” as per your instructions, Thom.

  5. Steven Morris
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    The bacon exception is understandable, given that bacon is bacon and as such tastes like bacon. My guess is that the chicken nugget exception is more social in nature, as they don’t taste anywhere near as good as bacon, or, for that matter, other forms of chicken. Does he maybe spend time with other kids were chicken nuggets are eaten on a daily basis?

  6. Cheryl Weber
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Google the first taste of bacon. It is interesting how the ability and desire to make choices emerges.

  7. Posted January 14, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    My son Alex declared himself a vegetarian at 5. He lapsed once shortly after (Cinta Sinese prosciutto in Siena, Italy), but has never turned back.

    He is actually pescetarian, so that does make things easier.

    I think it shows an incredible strength of character, so I’m very supportive of him standing his ground among us raging omnivores.

  8. James Williams
    Posted January 15, 2016 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    Chicken nuggets aren’t vegetarian, but they are also not meat.

  9. Jean Henry
    Posted January 15, 2016 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Ada decided at 5 to become vegetarian and has stuck with it through (almost) adulthood. No one in our family was vegetarian either. I sort of thought it was a stage that would pass, but she always had really good reasons for it. She seemed very clear on the issue. I rarely need to make make her any special food, because we almost always have tofu, rice and beans around.

    It IS a privilege to be able to choose what food we eat. She knows that. She doesn’t ever judge anyone else’s eating habits. Period.

    When she was almost 9, we found a still born fawn in the woods– very newly stillborn. It’s hooves had never flattened by contact with the ground. It was still wet on a dry day from its mothers efforts to revive it. I had a baby on my back and it got to me a bit. I tried to protect Ada from seeing it. She got mad, She felt I was being condescending. “I don’t care if an animal has died, as long as I had no role in it’s death. Carnivores just don’t understand.”

    I made her a t-shirt with that last bit for her birthday that year. And we never looked back. She will eat fish every once and a while now. Otherwise, she has stayed the course. We all eat better as a result.

  10. jcp2
    Posted January 15, 2016 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Bacon makes everything better, including brussel sprouts. I think the only thing that could be more taste enhancing than bacon fat is duck fat. Has Arlo tried duck yet?

  11. Posted April 23, 2016 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    He thought about eating chicken tonight but ultimately decided against it. He said that he didn’t like the idea of the chicken “walking around in (his) mouth.”

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