The Vegetarian Resource Group's 2014 Essay Contest Winner

A Privilege, not a Punishment

by Hannah Measom, Age 9

All the kids in my gardening club looked at me with "I feel sorry for you" kind of looks when I turned down the chocolate fudge brownies John, one of the kids, brought in for his birthday. Then another kid named Aaron announced, "Hannah doesn't get to eat yummy stuff because her parents make her eat vegan."

This was my chance to explain to my club that no one makes me be vegan. It's my own choice. And yes, when I was a baby, my parents did feed me only vegan food. In fact, I've been a vegan since birth. My family and I regularly volunteer at SASHA (Sanctuary and Safe Haven for Animals) farm sanctuary, the Midwest's largest farm animal sanctuary. At SASHA, I have personally taken care of animals like chickens, pigs, cows, and lambs. I see non-vegan food as disgusting. Just like I would never eat my pet dog or my neighbor's baby, I would never eat a pig (who is just as smart as a dog), or a baby animal like a lamb. It is a privilege for me to be vegan.

Suzanna is another girl in my club. She also didn't eat the birthday brownies, but that's because she is allergic to dairy. She does feel sad, like she is missing out when she doesn't eat the brownies. In fact, her mother always brings her an alternate snack. Suzanna feels she didn't choose to be allergic to dairy. I, on the other hand, feel special enough not to have to eat non-vegan. I choose my way of eating.

The next time we had a club meeting, I brought pictures of some of the animals that live at SASHA farm sanctuary. I told everyone about Lulu, the pig, who rolls over on her back and loves getting her belly rubbed. All the kids were surprised to hear how these animals loved playing and loved life. In fact, the whole club wants to visit the farm sanctuary. I will ask the owners of SASHA farm if I can bring the club there in the near future. Then, perhaps everybody will want to feast only on vegan brownies!