By Rebecka Wåhlberg:
When most of our time is spent recovering from school, doing homework and thinking about our future, there isn’t that much time for anything else. So why even consider becoming a vegan?
Somehow veganism is growing, and I’ve seen more teens than adults turn vegan. Maybe veganism is something we find when we are lazy, such as when you are at the table flipping through photos on Instagram or endlessly watching YouTube. At least that is how I, like so many others, discovered veganism — on social media. Most teens haven’t been vegan all their lives, and most teens don’t have vegan parents. Instead, they discover veganism themselves and care enough to change. That´s how I became vegan.
I’ve always considered myself someone who loves animals, and I believe I come from a family who loves and cares about them, too. But that connection is lost somewhere between the product and the living being. And that’s the point. There must be a reason slaughterhouses are isolated and built the way they are, in a way that keeps society away. Parents take their kids to pick berries or fruit during summer, but would never even consider taking their kids to a slaughterhouse. And with good reason: it’s horrible.
I became a vegan last year. It was a summer night. I was comfortably lying on my bed, a computer in front of me and headphones playing music in my ears. That’s when I stumbled upon a video named 101 Reasons to Go Vegan, a presentation by animal rights foundation in Florida. It was one hour long, and since that hour I haven’t consumed animal products. It hasn’t felt restrictive at all. Sure, I could no longer eat milk chocolate, but though I sometimes missed the tastes, I didn’t crave anything that’s not vegan. First of all, it’s because of the many vegan options in a grocery store, the new recipes you discover and the food in general. But also, it’s because of the process behind closed doors. It wasn’t worth it. I no longer wanted the products.
I’m vegan because I think it’s the right thing to do. Even if we took away all the slaughterhouses and all animals lived happily on farms until they got killed, I’d still be vegan. It still would be killing animals for taste. The animals didn’t choose to die. Their suffering is not excusable, no matter the level of pain.
When I went vegan, my family didn’t try to stop me. They didn’t tell me I couldn’t go vegan; they didn’t try to change my mind. They respected me, something I think every parent should do. My mom took me grocery shopping, and my transition to veganism didn’t become a problem.
Of course, not everyone is that lucky. Some parents don’t want their kids to be vegan. It could be that they worry about their child’s health or they don’t know what veganism is. If your parents are worried about your health, do some research, and show them that a vegan diet is healthy. Assure them that there’s nothing to worry about. Educate them on veganism and why you want to be a vegan. Don’t shove videos of animals being slaughtered under their noses: they’ll turn their heads in disgust and be reluctant to talk about being vegan. If you want to show a video, watch a documentary with them. I wouldn’t suggest something too violent, rather a video that talks about veganism and why it’s a good thing. Try to have a positive approach about it, perhaps cook a vegan dinner for the family once or twice a week. Show them that vegan food is good food and that it’s simple to be vegan.
Parents with vegan children, you don’t have to go vegan because your kids are. But you should support them. You should be happy for them. Your child wants to make a difference in this world. He or she is passionate about the environment and about creating a better life for everyone on the planet. That they want to become a vegan is great, so don’t be negative. They’re doing a good thing.
Rebecka Wahlberg is a Swedish vegan and student in 10th grade. an aspiring writer, who writes both poetry and loves working on her stories. She enjoys walks in the forest (preferably in the rain), reading, yoga and listening to music. she has an Instagram account focusing on writing at https://www.instagram.com/writingrebecka/