How Do I Get People to Listen?
By Hay, Guest Contributor
I have been gluten and dairy free for 4 years. This already puts a target on my back. But this year I also decided to go vegan.
It is extremely difficult to be 14 years old and believe in something. No one takes you seriously. No one thinks you know anything. And kids make fun of anything that is different.
I tried the angry approach at lunch but it got me nowhere. I would tell kids there were sodium nitrates in their deli meat, and that causes cancer. They would just hold up burgers and moo at me. One very fat kid told me, “I eat meat all the time and I’m never going to have a heart attack.” So stupid…
I also tried to write an argumentative essay to get my message across- mostly on factory farming and dairy cows. My teacher told me she didn’t want to read it because “that type of thing makes her squeamish”. On the day I presented she was coincidentally absent. ????? What? Did she really just admit she’d rather not know? Did I really just get a good grade and passed on through and still no one hears what I’m saying?
One day a girl in my school, let’s call her Kieran (because that’s her name), actually walked up to me and said, “So why don’t you drink milk anyway?” I couldn’t believe it, she really asked! And not to make fun… I told her all about cows being constantly pregnant and babies ripped away from their crying mothers and blood and pus in the milk. She said, “Wow… that’s gross!”
I’m not sure if she stopped drinking milk, but I was glad she was willing to listen – baby steps.
So I learned this year that the best thing I can do is live my truth – do what I think is right for me, and not worry so much about the others. And believe that someday, eventually, I will wind up surrounded by the type of people that won’t tease… or moo.
Photo credit: Jon Koons