Teenage greens: The realities of life as a teenage vegan

Read Time:   |  25th October 2017

15-year old vegan crusader Dan Hall talks us through the realities of life as a vegan teenager… 

Teenage greens: The realities of life as a teenage vegan

At the age of 13, after being vegetarian for 3 years I decided to go vegan. One of my school friends was already vegan and this prompted me to look into the idea of turning plant based. I decided to educate myself more about what animals really have to go through in order to get to our plates and what really shocked me was the amount of suffering and impact involved. For something as simple as a burger which you can easily get hold of, there is a long journey from farm to fork. Animal welfare standards are alarming.

I went vegan because I thought that it wasn’t right that animals should be treated in this way because of the impact on the environment and our health. For example, The World Health Organisation has said that ‘processed meats are in group 1, carcinogenic to humans and red meat is in group 2’ group 1 containing the highest threats. The Guardian said that cow farts contribute to 14.5% of total emissions which is more than all the methods of transport emissions combined.

I looked at YouTube videos online about the egg and dairy industry and discovered there was an ugly side to what most people consider the norm i.e. how egg-laying chickens are treated and how calves are separated from their mothers at birth. I also went on to look at the health problems of dairy and eggs and soon found out they are not as healthy as we are made to believe.

Peer pressure

Being a vegan can be hard, especially at school. But luckily at my school they now mark what is suitable in the cafeteria. You just have to communicate with the kitchen staff just like if you went to a restaurant or someone’s house, whoever is cooking for you just needs to know what you can’t eat, hopefully should help out /co-operate.

Peer pressure can also be another factor which can be difficult to deal with and even if you don’t proclaim that you are vegan people are going to start to notice sooner rather than later and that is when all the interrogation starts with people asking questions which is obviously completely normal and fine but it is just the repetitiveness of curiosity that can be tiring. If they are challenging your beliefs then challenge theirs as it does get tedious being bombarded with questions on a daily basis. Retaliation can also fuel the joke of ‘how do you know if someone is vegan? Don’t worry they’ll tell you’ which is yet another silly made up crazy vegan stereotypes of a protein pill guzzling, pressurising, calcium deficient, lettuce patch raider.

I try to not react to questions such as ‘what would you do if you were stuck on a desert island’ and instead just try and educate people on why I went vegan and It then pains me when people say ‘oh, I could never do that’ or ‘it’s too extreme’ because you can and it isn’t extreme. You just need to know what you are doing and make sure you are eating the right things by having hearty balanced meals and not just eating bananas and kale chips with a green smoothie.

And when people say they just couldn’t do it, that just gets the ball rolling for me, at least have a reason rather than an empty one. You just have to explain your choices to people and if they are open minded they should accept your decisions, no-one would ever question someone’s religion even though religion is faith and veganism is facts.

Dan Hall is a 15-year old vegan activist

Family

Not everyone understands the true meaning of being vegan and I often have to explain that I can’t have butter or milk etc., especially when going to someone’s house. Even my grandmother took a while to get used to it and would even cook the vegan sausages on top of the pork sausages! I have had a lot of awkward moments of people offering me things and I just have to politely turn them down.

If you are young and thinking about turning vegan, just explain to your parents that It is more beneficial to be! I used to suffer from nasal issues and bloating after eating but that has vanished ever since cutting out animal products. I also felt groggy in the mornings but now bounce out of bed feeling energised. I seem to be able to get up quicker than some of my sloth-like friends!

Being vegan can be cheaper and healthier. It can be very expensive by buying ‘cheeses’ and ‘mock meats’ but actually if you just stick to vegetables and beans, grains etc. it is much cheaper. Veganism can also be unhealthy if your diet isn’t balanced and but if you compared a balanced vegan meal to a ‘balanced’ non-vegan meal, the vegan one should be far healthier.

Teenage greens: The realities of life as a teenage vegan

Friends

When I first told my friends, I was going vegan they were accepting but some of them took a long time to get used to my choice of lifestyle. I think it is better to try and keep a low profile but at the same time answer their questions to raise their interest and awareness. I tend to say – you do what you do and I’ll do what I do – but if anyone takes it further I point them in the direction of Cowspiracy and other informative films.

I think personally that it is good to educate yourself about how animals suffer but you don’t need to watch endless videos of what happens to animals because they are distressing and are only giving you negative energy. Only watch them if you cannot be persuaded by any other means.

There is also this stigma associated with eating meat and being macho which is absolutely ridiculous and outdated, this leads to the classic questions such as ‘where do you get your protein?’ Even though I experience these silly questions daily, I have risen above them and I have started to not take any notice and realise that that person is only saying those things knowing deep down that they are wrong and they say comments to make them feel better about themselves.

Recently an OAP family member called to tell me a friend of theirs had shrunk 7 inches in old age and it was all because they had been vegan – or so they thought. I had to laugh about it.

Teenage greens: The realities of life as a teenage vegan

Eating out

When going out with friends it is fairly easy now to eat out with the demand for more vegan food. The number of vegans in Britain has “risen by 360% in 10 years” according to the Telegraph. So, restaurants, shops and supermarkets, etc. have to keep up with popular demand and I have noticed that lots of high street restaurants have added more vegan options and are even making vegan menus which is fantastic.

If you are planning on going to someone else’s house always let them know in advance and explain what you can’t have and if you would even be happy to make something for yourself etc.

A top tip from me would be if you are ever going to someone’s house or a party, always bring some snacks just in case the message hasn’t got across or they have forgotten that you where vegan which has happened to me quite a few times. So, to save yourself being left with an empty stomach bring something to eat just in case!

When you adopt the Vegan lifestyle of course you are going to attract some nasty comments and negative feedback but really it shows how insecure those people are and you just keep on doing what you do because in the end it will have a much better impact on your health, the environment and the animals! I can live without a negative conscience. I already have ideas for a business, starting a restaurant or food company in the future. After being a vegan for 2 years this month to this day I have never looked back.

Instagram @veganonthehorizonTwitter @kalecruncher.

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