Crusading for Animals This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     WhenI was 12, my parents had friends who were vegetarians - a new concept to me. Whatdo they eat? I wondered. They explained that there were lots of delicious dishesthat substitute fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and beans, and whole grains andwheat for meat. I also learned about the animal rights group People for theEthical Treatment of Animals (PETA). I checked out their web site and, to myhorror, discovered that my beloved childhood companion "Lamb Chop" wasactually what we were eating for dinner!

I had never realized that thelamb chop on my plate was once an amazingly beautiful animal. Then I thought, Wasbeef actually a cow? Pork really a pig? All these animals were hardly differentfrom my pet cat, all capable of feeling and affection. I also found out that most"farm animals" are not raised in spacious, picturesque barnyards like Ihad envisioned, but on dirty, cramped "factory farms." That's when Imade the decision not to eat any more meat.

But what more could I do tohelp animals? I found out that I could do a lot. It is especially easy to findcases of non-compassionate treatment when your town takes pride in being the"Poultry Capitol of the World," and where rodeos, hunting and gun showsare the main source of intellectual and cultural entertainment.

I becamea volunteer writer for PETA and in the last two years have had ten letters published in my local newspaper discussing issues from the furtrade and hunting to animal experimentation, the poultry industry and circuses. Iregularly write letters to my state and federal representatives in support ofanimal rights issues; I've even had a column on circus cruelty published in TheGainesville Times. Recently I interviewed PETA President Ingrid Newkirk for story.

When I became annoyed because there wasnothing appropriate for vegetarians to eat in our school cafeteria, Isuccessfully petitioned the administration to add vegetarian options. Last year,I founded Students Promoting Awareness of Animal Rights (SPAAR) - my school'sfirst-ever animal rights group.

I have tried to do all I can to enlightenothers on the dangers and moral conflict of eating meat, and the benefits ofvegetarianism. Hopefully I have changed a few minds regarding the thoughtlessabuse of all creatures great and small, just as a fellow vegetarian changed mine.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 9 at 10:15 pm
i love this so much!
both wrlds said...
Jan. 31, 2012 at 4:21 pm
I like wat this person is saying cuz i am a new vegetarian. My mom and me dont no any vegetarian foods except 4 salad. Any ideas?????
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