We are Indians and I was born into a practicing Hindu family. Hindus do not eat beef because of religious reasons. As a child I lived in Dubai with my parents. My sister and I explored different kinds of meat there. Especially beef burgers. My parents did not stop us from exploring. However they did not eat themselves. When I asked my mother she would say..”I am just not used to eating beef. But you guys can eat if you want to.” She did not cook beef at home. When I married, my husband’s family was also Hindu but they ate all sorts of meat. I started to cook beef, pork and all else! When my sister and I got together at mum’s place I cooked beef in her kitchen and she did not mind it or object. She continued to not eat.
When it comes to unschooling and food and other religious practices, I personally feel for me unschooling has been about allowing my children to find out for themselves what religion means to them. And they do this by asking me and others. We do this in our family through conversations and sharing our deepest values. I myself have been practicing only meditation as a daily practice. I do not pray as a Hindu anymore. For me the Hindu signs and symbols and gods and goddesses have taken deeper meaning about nature, Universe or life forces and compassion and empathy.
Religion for me has been for a long time now about personal choices and deeper values that move me as a human being with relation to the world. I encourage my children to perceive the world according to their inherent perceptions or consciousness.
In our family, a lot of emphasis is on the individual consciousness and what that consciousness brings to the child in terms of food choices and other choices they make for themselves naturally and organically. I see myself as an observer and partner in those choices and facilitating them. I try not to polarize choices that my children make. By polarization I mean…calling a food choice or other choices right or wrong, bad or good, healthy or unhealthy. Instead we try to talk about them and see from what space the choice is stemming from. There are many choices that are imitations from the surroundings and environment that we as a family live in..and then there are choices that are naturally emerging from a deeper authentic place within…I do feel it is important to live through choices to learn what stays and what doesn’t stay with the child’s true nature, for the parent and the child.
In Advaita the philosophy of Non-duality which is the absence of Polarity there is a saying called ..”Neti neti neti”…which means negating through living choices…it means in English..”Not this not this not this” And equally there is another word which is said in the same breath that means “this too that too”