Note: This post is NOT trying to convince you to become a vegetarian. It is simply my experience being a vegetarian child.
When I was nine years old, I made a big decision; I wasn’t going to eat meat again.
As soon as I decided this, I ran downstairs to tell my family about my decision. I sat down at the wobbly kitchen table with my Mom, Dad, and 15-year old sister.
“I don’t think I want to eat meat ever again,” I shyly told them, in my squeaky adolescent voice.
They looked at me for a second, and then they laughed. No one was shocked; I was the same kid who cried watching Animal Planet vet shows, and the same kid who couldn’t stand restaurants where you picked which lobster you wanted to eat.
“What about steak? Or Taco Bell meat?” my Dad replied in his usual, sarcastic yet funny tone.
I thought for a moment – what would I do without my guilty pleasure food, Taco Bell tacos? Were my reasons worth it?
8 years later, I’m still a vegetarian, just with slightly different reasons.
Being a Vegetarian Child
I would honestly say being a vegetarian as a child is harder than being a vegetarian as an adult when it comes to what others think. When you’re young, most kids don’t get the concept of being a vegetarian. Heck, I barely did. It took a lot of explaining to my friends as to what exactly a vegetarian is, and why I became one of those weird people.
Looking back, even though explaining why I became vegetarian (and what it is) to a bunch of third graders was frustrating, my parents got the short end of the stick. Whenever I went to a family gathering, the adults would all ask my parents “Why wasn’t she eating my <fill in the blank with some sort of meat>?”
My parents would explain that I am just a young vegetarian, and would often hear “well why would you let her become that?” or “how does she get her protein?” or an array of other questions. Sometimes, they would even be chastised about how being a vegetarian is unhealthy, even though both they and I spent hours researching vegetarian protein sources, talked to a doctor, and had extensive discussions about nutrition.
Why I Became a Vegetarian at 9 years old
When I was young, my reasons for being vegetarian were pretty simple.
I loved animals, and I thought that meat was yucky. Like, ew, flesh! At least, that’s what I thought until it came to a steaming hot, fake American taco.
I was a very emotional child, so the thought of an animal dying was a little bit heartbreaking. The idea of an animal dying for me to eat was even worse (I didn’t really understand that one animal feeds a lot of people…)
Also, I wasn’t a fan of most meat. I DETESTED pork with my entire four-foot tall body, and meat was always the last part of the meal I would eat.
Simply put: I didn’t want to eat meat anymore.
Why I am a Vegetarian Now
When people find out that I’m a vegetarian, their first question is always WHY.
Although I do still love animals, and I still find the idea of eating an animal off-putting, I have slightly more complicated reasons now.
1. It makes me feel good
I feel good eating vegetarian, both morally and physically. it quite honestly makes me feel good that I don’t eat animals. I definitely don’t think eating animals is a bad thing, but it just isn’t for me. I’ve been vegetarian for so long that I just can’t imagine eating animals anymore
Physically, I feel like I have so much more energy than my meat-eating pals. Maybe I’m biased or it’s in my head, but I feel like I have more energy now, being a vegetarian, than I did when I ate meat. I have friends who have gone vegetarian that say they feel like they have more energy than they did before.
2. I like making a positive impact on the environment
I really don’t want to be preachy, but I also am vegetarian because it is generally better for the environment. It saves water, saves land, and saves food. Going back to the last point, it makes me feel morally good that I am making an impact, as small as it might be.
Anyways, guys, I hope you enjoyed reading about my journey of becoming a vegetarian child at only nine years old. If you have a child who is interested in becoming a vegetarian, I highly recommend this article. It was written by a pediatrician and is relatively non-preachy.
Thank you for reading! – Maddie