Being a Vegan Teen
Hi, I’m Savannah. I’m known as the vegan at my school. People also think of me as the martial artist, kiwi bird, and philosopher, but my veganism is the title people more frequently discuss.
Veganism also seems to get more varied reactions from people. When I tell my peers I do judo, sometimes they ask if it is similar to karate (it isn’t), or if it’s fun, just making normal conversation. On the flipside, when my classmates talk to me about me being vegan, the conversation can go multiple ways.
Sometimes people are a bit more hostile about it. One boy, who will go unnamed, acted personally offended every time I wore one of my vegan shirts. He wanted me to stop wearing them. Of course, he also tried telling me why my shirts were wrong. Even though my friends at school are not vegan, they recognized the wrong in this, and told him to stop.
Another reaction I get from my peers is, luckily, enthusiastic support. Before going vegan, I had no clue how many people my age were concerned about animal welfare. Many times, when discussing my veganism, the person with whom I am speaking with will ask for tips, tricks, or help going vegetarian or vegan. I gladly offer said support, and tell them that it is a lot easier than it seems. I always love having this type of conversation.
The most common theme associated with my veganism discussions is the questions. People often ask the same general questions that others have asked before. I really don’t mind answering the questions and will do it gladly, but the hard part is not offending or upsetting people, as I try to keep good relations with my classmates. One of the more tricky questions that I get asked quite frequently is, “What’s wrong with eggs/milk? The chickens/cows aren’t killed.” First, I ask them if they really want to know and to date, nobody has said no. So, I explain what is problematic with the industries, “In the egg industry, since the male chicks can’t lay eggs, the vast majority of them are ground alive or suffocated in plastic bags. In the dairy industry, since male calves don’t produce milk, they are often sold and then slaughtered for veal.” Most people look shocked or disturbed about the information I share. Hopefully, later down the road, they will remember our conversation and make compassionate choices.
Overall, I don’t think that my peers have a problem with my veganism. As always, there are a few exceptions, but I am happy that most people are fine with it. Sometimes, if one of my classmates is eating something non-vegan in front of me, he or she will even ask if it bothers me to ensure that I am not upset. Sometimes people have misconceptions about social relations when you are vegan. Overall, I have found it to be an incredibly positive experience. It led to some awesome conversations where I was able to help inform people.
Of course, peers are not the only aspect of being a vegan teen. My parents also play a huge role in allowing me to maintain this lifestyle, and I acknowledge the fact that some teens and children are unable to make the switch due to their parents. At first, although not unsupportive, mine were like that. In seventh grade, I wanted to go vegetarian, but my parents decided that me being a pescatarian would be better. It took about a year, but after research and learning on their part, they allowed me to make the great switch to veganism! I even took my mom along with me in the process. So, if you are a teen interested in veganism, but have unsupportive parents, you could always try easing them into the idea. Maybe you could offer to cook dinner, and make delicious vegan meals that they will love, or put a vegan documentary on the television when they are close by. Who knows, maybe they will even go vegan along with you like my amazing mom did.
My lifestyle has also allowed me the opportunity to meet vegans my age. Since I started volunteering with the Animal Advocates, I have met multiple vegan teens who I keep in touch with. I am glad that I was able to meet people who understand me more as a result of the Animal Advocates.
Overall, being a vegan teen is awesome, and if you are interested, I implore you to give it a try!