Will more of the YouTube generation be vegetarians?

I served lunch to a four-year-old girl today.

  • Child: “What’s on the plate?”
  • Grown-Up: “Cod.”
  • Child: “What’s that?”
  • Grown-Up: “A big fish that lives on the bottom of the ocean. Though unfortunately this one had to die so that we could have our lunch.”
  • Child: “How do they catch them?”
  • Grown-Up: “Sometimes with lines and hooks but commercial fishermen usually drag nets behind a boat.”
  • Child: “I want to see it.”
  • Grown-Up [pulling phone out of pocket]: “Here’s a video on YouTube showing a boat near Iceland catching cod.”

When I was growing up it wasn’t practical to watch a video of commercial harvesting of the animal that was simultaneously being consumed. Will this Brave New World of knowledge turn more of the next generation into vegetarians?


  1. Chris

    January 11, 2014 @ 4:36 pm


    Probably depends on how many more laws we get like these ones:


  2. Alexey

    January 11, 2014 @ 6:44 pm


    What was her reaction to a video?

  3. philg

    January 11, 2014 @ 7:19 pm


    Alexey: Greta enjoyed the video and asked to see it a couple more times, but she was already planning to reject the cod in favor of mashed potatoes.

  4. Anonymous

    January 11, 2014 @ 8:58 pm


    Short answer, yes. More young people will become vegetarians as industrial scale agribusiness practices become known. My daughter (36) works in a very successful veterinary clinic. The owners are women (ivy grad licensed vets). All other vets working in the practice are women. All technician and support staff (20+) are women. Most are vegetarian, a few eat fish. What little red meat is eaten amongst her friends and colleagues must be grass fed, organic, and most important, has had a happy life before the axe fell. This movement is gaining strength. There’s a bright future in soy stuff.

  5. Colin Summers

    January 11, 2014 @ 9:07 pm


    Did kids growing up on farms tend to be vegetarians?

    They saw the slaughter of animals up close. They cut the heads off chickens themselves (I did this in middle school on a trip to Putney, Vermont, we stayed at a farm for a long weekend).

    Growing up on a farm my friend knew they cows as individuals. She liked her steak well done, but she was not a vegan.

  6. suzanne goode

    January 11, 2014 @ 10:39 pm


    have been wondering this myself, as an increasing percentage of the high school kids I tutor, and the peers of my own teenagers, are either vegetarian or vegan. Much as I thought it was altruism or empathy for the animals’ plight, brought about by films and books such as Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, in many cases it appears to be a matter of taste preference, i.e., they prefer to eat pizza & sushi over steak. A lot of vegetarians are, in fact, pescetarians to use a more accurate term. I became a pescetarian in college for similar reasons — simply preferred bread, cheese, yogurt, fruit and the occasional salad/veggie & tunafish salad for my meals. College dining hall food, e.g., Salisbury steak, sealed the deal. (often ate peanut butter & granola in the college dining hall) But maybe today’s kids are genuinely concerned about animals. Agree with Colin that the 4-H kids aren’t squeamish about consuming the turkey they’ve grown to know & love as their Thanksgiving centerpiece.

  7. Isaac D

    January 12, 2014 @ 2:23 am


    As someone who is watching beef and pork futures rise, I’m hopeful that the vegetarian trend continues and eases the demand (thus lowering prices) a bit.

  8. Mitch Berkson

    January 12, 2014 @ 12:32 pm


    If you don’t want to risk a refutation of furniture and the concomitant mess, it may be best to finesse inquiries regarding the production of lumber from trees. At least until the child is older,

  9. Mitch Berkson

    January 12, 2014 @ 12:33 pm


    Anonymous (“There’s a bright future in soy stuff”):

    And iron supplements.

  10. Jack Denton

    January 12, 2014 @ 11:19 pm


    I grew up on a farm like Colin and we raised our own cattle, hogs and chickens. We also had a huge garden, growing everything we could like potatoes, tomatoes, okra, squash, green beens, radishes, corn, lettuce, onions. I got to experience it first hand and I still prefer my steaks medium well just like the one I took off the grill earlier. It’s hard to beat a fillet.

  11. Robert

    January 13, 2014 @ 10:48 am


    I wonder how much of this is due to cultural shifts rather than technology. Are the Chinese (in China or in America) becoming more vegetarian also? I have no stats to offer except a common saying in China: Cantonese people will eat anything that has four legs, unless it’s a table.

  12. Fabien

    January 13, 2014 @ 11:32 am


    Or maybe they’ll be like typical kids of previous generations, who were raised in farms, had always seen and participated from a young to the slaughter of poultry and pigs for domestic consumption?

    Humans being have always been comfortably eating the byproducts of animal killings, not thanks to blissful ignorance, but because we were as OK with it as are all other non-vegetarian species.

    On the other hand, battery cage farming is not something we’ve evolved to be comfortable with. Dying and being eaten is the inevitable fate of all living creatures, ourselves included, but imposing life-long suffering to save a couple of dollars a day is neither inevitable nor civilized. Shedding light on it could have an impact, which is probably why the ag-gag laws mentioned by Chris are lobbied.

  13. total collapse

    January 14, 2014 @ 12:28 am


    So the Total Collapse of Atlantic Cod won’t
    do it.
    but bunch episode of “deadliest catch” will.

    ha ha ha.

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