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In the Vegetarian & Vegan News...
   Letter to the Editor | VegSource Interactive, Inc.

Diary of an "Obsessed" Teen
by 15-year-old Chantel Theunissen

"You're sooo obsessive"
"Here, have some - live a little"
"When are you going to get out of this phase?

June 13, 2002 -- If you're a teenage vegetarian then those comments are sure to be familiar to you. I've been a veg' for 5 years now, and, in that time, I've have had my fair share of strange looks, muffled snickers and derogatory comments. But I wouldn't change a moment of it - let me tell you why. . .

It all began 6 years ago, when I was 9. Dad took me to see "Babe" at the movies. Dad had a good laugh, but all I wanted to do was cry. I couldn't believe that people actually wanted to eat these beautiful living, breathing creatures? I was shocked, saddened & disgusted. But I was 9, and I thought that that was just life, so my carnivorous ways continued.

A couple of months later I was watching 'The Simpsons' on TV. The episode was the one where Lisa became a vegetarian. I was delighted to know that there were people who didn't eat animals, and desperately wanted to become one of them. I knew I had an uphill battle though; convincing my parents to let a 9 going on10 year old to become a vegetarian would be tough. I needed a plan.


Chantel Theunissen

My big break came a few weeks later when Dad announced that we were going on holiday. Surely they wouldn't mind letting me try out the herbivorous lifestyle for the week we were away. After all, I reasoned, our normal routine was going to be upset anyway. They swallowed the idea hook, line and sinker. Little did they know that this was the transition phase towards a meat free future. Dad thought it was a phase alright - one that would see me back in McDonalds within a week. Mum, remembering my love of raw onions as a baby, thought this might just be something I'd stick with - but she wasn't olding her breath either. Having had slightly more exposure to my steely-eyed determination than Dad, however, she started researching about keeping vegetarian kids healthy. All of my friends thought I'd lost my mind when I told them about my newfound vegetarianism. Some of them felt sorry for me when they were eating a Big Mac & I was tucking into a salad. But I didn't feel sorry for me - I felt sorry for the animals.

Now I'm a 15 year old devout vegetarian - and I love it. Vegetarianism makes you healthier, wealthier* and hopefully wiser. And don't worry about us veg's always feeling hungry - my portions at restaurants are always twice the size of my carnivorous parents. Being a vegetarian has also helped me develop a passion for all (well most) things culinary. As my parents are both meat eaters, I do a lot of my own cooking. Who ever knew that dicing & slicing could bring a teenager so much joy!

Having non-veg parents has brought a few challenges though. When I first became a veg' I took great delight in preaching to my family about how 'evil' their carnivorous way were. I soon realized that I was the one being 'evil' and that you shouldn't judge someone by what they eat. My new motto is "Hey, You respect what I eat, I'll respect what you eat."

All in all, I love being a vegetarian. I feel a whole lot better for it. And, even though I get plenty weird looks & stupid comments, I wouldn't want to change things for all the rice in China. I hope my herbivorous lifestyle is a "phase" I never grow out of.

*Wealthier- A head of lettuce, or a leg of pork? You do the math.

Chantel Theunissen is a 15 year old living in Masterton, New Zealand. She has been a vegetarian since she was 10 years old. Her hobbies include cooking, watching old movies & spending time with her family.

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