Vegan at 16

healthy vegan dietby Mary Jo Englert

I was raised with the belief that animals are here for our convenience to eat and use in products. It took me 16 years to realize and admit they are not. About five years ago I began to stop eating meat. My older sister became a vegetarian for personal reasons of her own, and that brought the idea into my head. Since then, it has taken about two and a half years for me to stop eating all types of meat.

Over the summer I became very interested in becoming vegan. Through organizations like PETA and other groups on the internet, I learned how consuming dairy was just as wrong as eating meat. So for about 4 months now I have stopped eating all animal products. My parents haven't always been supportive of my decision to be vegan. My mother gets impatient when I read every label at the grocery store. My father still eats meat and gets upset when I make an entirely different meal for myself for dinner. My younger sister doesn't eat as much meat as she used to, but we don't buy as much meat as we used to.

Its ironic that my first job would be working at a hamburger and ice cream store. Everyone I work with, including my boss, knows I won't eat anything we serve, and they're understanding about it. Its still hard to have to serve people the food we make and I feel wrong doing it, but for now it's the only job I have. Hopefully, as I grow older I can continue living a vegan lifestyle. In a few years I'll be able to control everything I buy. In the past two years I have noticed more health food stores opening that sell vegan foods here in Pittsburgh, PA. I have been trying to go to meetings and festivals in hopes of meeting other vegans or vegetarians around where I live. I also am trying to volunteer to help different organizations. I think it would be a lot easier being around friends who didn't eat animals. I would hope when I get married, that I could marry someone vegan, and raise vegan children. I don't like to look, touch, or smell meat so it would be difficult if meat was always around. Being vegan is so great, I feel better now when I eat and I have a lot of fun cooking and shopping

At school there are three vegetarians whom I know. I'm sure there are a few more, but we are still outnumbered when it comes to our cafeteria food. Everyday, the school's menu consists of hamburgers, pizza, fries, or salad bar. Needless to say I eat salad or pack my lunch.

My friends don't fully understand all my reasoning for becoming vegan. Sometimes it can be difficult if I have to eat while we're out or if I am over a friend's house. But they let me eat my special foods and they try to keep most of their comments to themselves.

Mary Jo Englert is a young vegan living in Pittsburgh, PA.

Source: VegFamily

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