VWPA Advice #002: Is It OK to Eat Roadkill?

Would it be ok to eat roadkill?
My 8 year old granddaughter asked me (all on her own!) if it would be ok to eat roadkill. How do I respond?!

Nichole

I’m so happy your granddaughter asked this question! It shows a mature grasp of the concept of veganism, and is likely coming from a place of sincere curiosity. I can picture myself asking a very similar question at her age.

I recommend encouraging her curiosity by answering her question seriously. Tell her you are proud of her for thinking things through and asking questions. Your version of vegan might be different from mine, but I would probably say something along the lines of:

“Roadkill would be ok to consume ethically* but since I don’t think it’s ok to kill animals for food, I’ve stopped seeing animals as food. So for me, I wouldn’t eat roadkill even though it’s ok because the animals died on accident.”

*ask her if she knows what ethically means, if she doesn’t, say it means that when something is right versus wrong based on what you believe about right and wrong, like you think it’s wrong to kill animals for food and most people think it’s wrong to kill another person

That is if you want to give her an answer. I think an even better conversation to have would be:

“What do you think? How did you come up with that question?”

And then let her walk you through the answer. She’s obviously smart and logical, a critical thinker, so indulge that by letting her think it through with you. Respect her opinions but ask thought-provoking questions:

  • Do you think it’s disrespectful to the animal to eat them after they’re dead?
  • Would we do something like that to humans?
  • Why do you think we take human death so much more seriously than an animals?
  • What about putting the animals back in nature so they can be part of the natural process?
  • Do you think it might encourage people to hit animals with their cars if that was the only meat that was “ok” to eat?

Let her chew on these things, work through them on her own. Don’t indicate that there is a right or wrong answer, just ask in a way that let’s her know you are interested in what she thinks. This will encourage her to continue thinking long after your conversation ends, and that’s where real growth takes place, in those quiet moments in between talks. This will teach her that fluid thought is a good thing, and that she can continue to examine her opinions and the world around her as she grows and learns.

This is my method with children for all philosophical topics – from God to racism. Kids are smart and they are rarely challenged to form their own opinions. Help her build confidence in herself by acknowledging her as a peer in this conversation, let her know you respect her intelligence and thought process. When you’re done, give her a big hug and thank her for talking to you!

Callie

Wow Nichole really nailed this answer! I totally agree with everything she said. I really love the idea of helping your granddaughter work through this complex idea instead of just giving an answer, it’s so important that as a society we start to focus on teaching critical thinking skills to children. With that said, I want to tackle this question as if it didn’t come from a sincere and beloved granddaughter… so here goes!

I can only think of two valid justifications for eating roadkill. One is if your life is in jeopardy and you are dying (like of starvation), in which case the law of the animal kingdom would prevail- kill or be killed. The second is if you would be just as comfortable eating a human as you would an animal. In my opinion, anything other than those two situations is speciesism, valuing animal lives less than human lives.

While my answer is short, I don’t propose it flippantly. I truly believe that our actions need to represent our beliefs, that animals are not lesser beings than humans and we don’t have the right to take from them, regardless of the circumstances.

Rock on, warrior princess!

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