BY: HANNAH LETTIERI AND CHARLOTTE MACKEN
Although it’s been around for decades, veganism has become a rising trend over the last few years. Vegans do not consume any animal products, including meat, dairy, or eggs, as well as use byproducts like leather, fur, and other commodities.
Despite the challenging diet, being a vegan has never been easier. As its popularity has increased, a multitude of resources have become available to current and aspiring vegans including vegan cookbooks, magazines, and a plethora of online activity, including websites, forums, and other resources.
The vegan movement has skyrocketed as videos have surfaced showing the cruelty animals face in slaughterhouses. The most popular animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), is an international nonprofit that works to give animals the rights they deserve.
Their pursuits include encouraging vegan diets, ending animal cruelty in the entertainment industry, fighting against animal testing, and the opposition of furs and leather in the clothing industry.
Many teenagers have taken matters into their own hands when it comes to their diets, now joining the movement. Reasons for their decisions vary from person to person, but the most common is the unethical treatment of animals.
Marisa DeSorbo, 17, has been vegan for three years.
She said, “I love animals too much. I saw the cruelty videos, and I care too much for animals to eat them.”
DeSorbo added, “I feel better morally knowing I’m not part of the cruelty towards animals. I also feel healthier with the healthier diet it provides.”
Her steps into veganism were similar to many other people’s: start by cutting out meat, then gradually eliminate other things like dairy and eggs.
“People just starting out can’t be too hard on themselves about their diets.” DeSorbo added. “It’s all about taking things slow and going at your own pace.”
DeSorbo is just one of numerous teens partaking in veganism.
Jack Ehrichs, 18, has been a vegetarian for six months, but has recently embarked on the transition into veganism.
Ehrichs said, “For most of the time I’ve been vegetarian I’ve been pretty close to being vegan because I’ve never felt a need to eat dairy, meat, or any animal byproduct.”
He claimed it’s not only for his own health, but for the conservation of the environment and animal wellness as well.
“I’ve never had to struggle with this diet. I never really loved meat and learning about the environmental impact and the welfare of animals gives me that much more strength and reason.”
Bella Prete, 16, began her journey two-and-a-half years ago.
Prete said, “I was eating ribs and I got some meat under my nails, and it hit me: this was an animal and I don’t like how they’re treated.”
She added that she’s never struggled with her diet. Currently, she’s trying out a raw food diet.
“A lot of people think that vegans are all in your face, trying to push their views on you. It’s not true, obviously.” Prete commented.
While some people partake in a vegan diet for the love of animals or conservation of the environment, some do it due to health problems.
Katie Facteau, 17, describes herself as “practically vegan.”
“I eat vegan foods because I have to. I’m allergic to dairy, I’ve always had an issue with it. My mom’s allergic to gluten, so we think she passed that on to me.
Facteau added, “I can’t eat dairy or gluten, and because of that I tend to eat vegan foods. Most vegan foods tend to have that stuff taken out, so it’s easier to eat that way.”