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Becoming a Vegetarian While Being a Teenager

It's hard to find support and drive for your goals when you're young because everyone thinks it's a phase, but you shouldn't let that stop you.

At the age of 17, right before I started my senior year of high school, I watched a documentary about the agriculture industry. At that moment I made a conscious decision to try being a vegetarian. At that moment I also didn't realize how tough it would be to stay committed to that choice.

I've never really committed to anything fully in my life. I bought an expensive camera for photography but I barely use it. I got a ukulele but only learned the beginning of one song because it was difficult to teach myself. The only hobby I still do is drawing and painting, but it usually takes a couple months for me to even start something. I took a year to start painting my door after my mom bought the paint. It's still not finished on one side three years later. I decided this would be the thing that I stuck with since caring for animals is something I've always done.

I've grown up on sort of a mini farm and when you spend a lot of time with animals, you can tell they have a soul. They feel fear and joy and pain like us. So I told my mom since she is the one in charge of buying food and she always makes dinner. She's a talented cook while I can barely make mac n cheese. It took her a long time to remember. I would come out for dinner and look at the meat filled meal she made. When she realized i couldn't eat it i usually ended up making toast or something for myself to avoid bothering her (I know I can't live on bread, pasta and cheese, but I'm doing my best. I don't recommend it. Learn to cook. Don't be me. )

My mom has been a huge support for me. She tried new recipes and did her best while also giving my dad his steak every night. My dad, on the other hand, does not support me. He tells me all the time I need to eat a steak because I'm so skinny and not very strong for a farm girl. But when I was first transitioning and still eating meat on occasion, when I had no other food options, it always made me feel sick. All of my friends at my one school supported me, but in my CTE class for animal science, not so much. My teacher, being a cow farmer, thought I was just dumb and would ask me to give my scientific reasoning and then completely diss them for propaganda. I can't lie about the harmful effects of agriculture on the environment, though. The other students were all very much meat lovers. It was the little things that bothered me. One friend always called me a veggie and I'd be eating something completely vegetarian and she'd be like, "you can't eat that you're a veggie." As if I can only eat plants. I knew she was joking, but deep down it was hella annoying. And my current boyfriend that I met around the same time I made the decision just didn't understand why I would do that. I spent many times in lunch rambling on about deforestation and pollution even though it was exhausting. But I felt like if I didn't no one would take me seriously. He understands now although he still makes irritating jokes or shoves the meatball he's eating in my face and pisses me off. At one point I became very discouraged. It'd been months since I started. I felt like I had no support.

I realized I did have support, I just had to look closer and ask for it to be vocalized. I know everyone still doubts that I will keep going. They think it's a phase but it only encourages me more. So not only do I have the good tasting food, the good feeling of helping the environment and not making other people slaughter animals for my taste buds for encouragement, but now I'm also doing it to prove everyone wrong. Spite is a beautiful thing. Use is to your advantage, especially when you're young and people bring negativity onto your goals. Someday when I move out and can buy my own food, it'll be easier and I'll be able to do it right. 

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Becoming a Vegetarian While Being a Teenager
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