By Published On: 26 June 2013361 words1.8 min read

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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

By Published On: 26 June 2013361 words1.8 min read

Share This Story!

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

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  1. Hay July 4, 2013 at 9:36 am - Reply

    Thanks, guys!

  2. LT July 2, 2013 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    You are right, you can’t get people to listen on command, or because your cause is right. You can just live, share, and lead by example. With time, just as I in my 30s learned, you will realize that people are either ready to hear and think about and perhaps even try veganism/vegetarianism, or are not ready. I include vegetarianism, because whether we like it or not, vegetarianism can be a great first step. Through my veganism, my family and some friends have learned about healthy diets and animal rights and conditions. If someone is curious, I am always ready to share my health story, and so you should be too … but just leave it there :) Being vegan should never be a ticket or condition of being part of your world, ok?!

  3. Amy June 28, 2013 at 7:55 am - Reply

    This post inspires me! You’re so right that as time goes on, more people will listen and value your commitment. It’s really a shame that even teachers, people who want bring information to others, try to turn away from an important reality. Keep doing what you do!