Have her watch The Princess Bride:
Buttercup: You mock my pain.
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
Besides... when the 4 yr old also learns that plants are living things and doesn't want to eat those "friends" what then? Just let the 4 yr old make all their own decisions? Right.
As long as a parent isn't swapping back and forth from veg to primal I don't think there is a problem with a mixed message. Sometimes parents and people change their minds... it's part of life.
Circle of life. It's a great science lesson.
Also IMO it is not inappropriate to explain that we have certain nutritional needs (vitamins etc) that cannot be met without some animal protein in our diet.
Also... does your child even actually know any chickens, pigs, cows... whatever meat you are eating. (I personally include bunnies as meat.) If not then what you have is a child's fantasy world. Much like they go through the stage where they converse with their stuffed toys. It's not reality. 4 years old is sort of "imaginary friend" primetime for children.
Reality is that you can both be "friends" with animals AND eat them. I grew up on a farm, this reality was very evident in that we cared for all of our animals well. We provided, food, pasture, shelter... and we even played with them and gave treats and petted them. When it came time that they were food, they had lived a good life and it wasn't a bad thing. It simply was.
Try fish and seafood... way less cute and cuddly. Eggs too. Pescatarian is very doable as Primal.
Our body is our subconscious mind, and anybody who thinks that their conscious mind is running the show is seriously mistaken. In fact the conscious mind just may be the most narcissistic entity in the universe, it thinks it's running the show. It's not.
~ Nora Gegaudas
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing... -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." ~Vicktor Frankl
And that's why I'm here eating HFLC Primal/Paleo.
Thank you all for taking the time to respond to this. I'm going to give "circle of life and mommy feels so much better now" talk and see how that goes. Fact is, I'm still not totally comfy with the idea of eating sentient creatures but I'm learning about having compassion for myself as much as I do for animals. This last week has been a growth opportunity that's for sure.
She's 4. Its not like she's asking because she's a deep one looking to solve some ancient question like "Why are we here?" She's asking because, till now, you've probably told her all living things are our friends etc, etc. and now you are doing something different and she is confused.
SHE didn't chose the veg lifestyle, you did. Now you've chosen something different. When she asks simply say that you eat meat to grow big and strong. Kids understand that. You could go into a big discussion about the circle of life and carnivores and herbivores, and etc but she's 4!!
Are you offering her meat? I've yet to see a 4 year old turn down meat. Get some cute cookie cutters, pound a chicken breast flat, cut out the cute shapes, season, and bake. Offer some dipping sauces and let her go to town. She won't even realize she's eating chicken.
See what I'm up to: The Primal Gardener
Id just do what others have suggested, plus keep offering it to her. My 4 year old understands a lot, so it can't hurt to discuss it all. Animals are important for us to live.
Remember when kids watched documentaries on PBS and learned about reality?