Fish Are Friends, Not Food | Teen Ink

Fish Are Friends, Not Food MAG

By Colleen C., Auburn, NY

     Vegan: one who eats no animal products. Yep, that’s me - a vegan for a little over three months, and proud of it too. I clearly remember the day as if it was a movie playing in my head. I went to hear some live hard-core music. My attention, however, was caught by an unfamiliar table bearing pamphlets, a TV playing something gruesome, and what looked like extremely good treats that I would soon find out were animal-product free.
I sidled over to the table and began to flip through the leaflets, realizing they promoted animal rights. I read quite a bit, drinking in all the facts and benefits of being a vegan, which were overwhelming. I learned disgusting details of what went into everyday products that I consumed, and soon started feeling sick. I had been a vegetarian for six years and knew some of what I was reading already, but these facts and photos made me want to puke.
My disgust must have shown on my face because before long I was approached by a boy named Sean, who informed me of the health, environmental, and animal benefits of being a vegan. At first I wasn’t sure I could do it. He reassured me that it wasn’t as hard as everyone made it seem. He had been a vegan for three years without problems, and he said it’s healthy as long as you know how to do it properly. I left that show not completely sold, but certainly close to it.
Later that night, I went to a friend’s house where a bunch of us gathered up an insane amount of food, drinks, and blankets to sleep in a tent overnight. When everyone was settled, the feast began. I, however, hesitated over the cheese-flavored chips, instantly thinking about the cows that were being mistreated to provide the milk to manufacture these cheesy treats. I withdrew my hand. I had become a vegan.
Did you know that studies have proven that vegans and vegetarians as a group show the least amount of cancer, cholesterol, and high blood pressure? Want to know why? It’s because only animal products contain cholesterol and high amounts of fat that endanger the body. Also, since vegans stay away from chemicals, pesticides, and preservatives in their food, they reduce their risk of cancer. These alone are wonderful reasons to become a vegan.
There are other reasons, however; reasons that convinced me to be a vegan. Did you know that most of the egg and dairy industries’ animals are kept in disgustingly small confinement? Did you know that chickens live their entire lives in cages? That dairy cows are never released from their small, fenced-in areas? That other cattle only leave enclosures to be slaughtered? Did you know that an increasing amount of poultry waste, cow blood and bone, and dead cat and dog remains are being added to cattle feed? I bet a lot of you didn’t know that. Most people consume those tortured animals without thinking twice about what they had to go through. Now you know.
Being a vegan is also good for the environment. Did you know that if Americans reduced their consumption of meat, the amount of grain saved could feed millions of starving people? Did you know that according to the Environmental Protection Agency, livestock is one of the biggest sources of human-induced methane? Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change and global warming. Veganism is the answer to a lot of the problems in the world today.
Lots of times I’ve been asked why I went vegan, and my answer is usually: “Fish are friends, not food.” I’ve learned so much these past few months. I feel healthier, I have more energy, and I feel as if I am making a difference, even if it is small. I believe that everyone should consider the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.

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This article has 2 comments.

i love this so much!

ael429 BRONZE said...
on Jul. 20 2011 at 11:59 am
ael429 BRONZE, Waterford, Michigan
3 articles 10 photos 20 comments
I appreciate how personal this piece is. I get a good sense of voice. However, you really don't argue opposing views and it weakens the paper a ton. Your "facts" also lack citation, which diminishes their reliability. My dad owns a farm which used to be dairy, and is now is a beef farm. Those cows have never spent a day locked up in a tiny pen or being fed dog and cat bones...I think you should see if you can make a visit to a small, local farm to see the conditions for yourself. The problem is buying cheap, mass-produced animal products, not animal products in general.

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