Talking to children about meat production

By Holly Webb, ASAS/ASAP communications intern

Animal Production 2016 speaker highlight: Heather Bray

lean-meatMeat consumption preferences are usually established in early childhood, with children at some point learning the origins of the meat they consume. However, little is known about how animal production is discussed within Australian households or how children learn where their meat comes from.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide have published an article in Appetite about the different ways parents communicate with their children about meat production, and the implications on family attitudes.

Authors hypothesised that although the school environment may have an important role in educating children about animals for food production, the home environment is where most initial learning takes place.

The majority of the 225 Australian primary caregivers in the study spoke about meat production with their children, with most initiating conversation before their children were 5 years old. These conversations were usually started over meal preparation, as opposed to visiting an agricultural show or similar events.

Differences emerged between the attitudes of rural and urban parents. Urban parents were more likely to reveal their own conflicts about eating meat, whereas rural parents were more inclined to expect children to eat what is provided, as talking about meat is not a major issue. However, both groups of caregivers felt it is important for children to understand the origins of their meat.

Authors conclude that understanding how the Australian family shapes attitudes towards animals for meat production and the method in which this is communicated to children is important for engaging communities in constructive conversations about production animal welfare.

The full article, ‘Not appropriate dinner table conversation? Talking to children about meat production’, can be accessed here.

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