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The Importance of Talking To Teenagers about Veganism

by | December 16, 2018

Talking to teenagers about veganism in my French classroom is a hillarious and informative ‘conversation’. Other than the French horror film Raw, about a vegan who eats meat and turns into a cannibal (yeah, that exists) there is a lack of representation of veganism in popular culture here. During the food unit in one of my English classes, I presented veganism in American culture to my group of high school Freshman. How did it go? There were some successes and some failures.  

In French, there are three different words to denote plant-based diets: végétarian, végétalien and végane. Out of these three words, there are two separate words for vegan food and somebody who is vegan; végétalien refers to vegan food and végane is used for somebody who is vegan. This leaves végétarian to denote both a vegetarian and vegetarian food. Confusing, I know.

To begin talking to teenagers about veganism, I asked my students what they thought a vegan was. A majority of the class thought that vegan was the same as what we know as vegetarians and they thought that vegetarians eat fish and chicken. With a quick white-board diagram showing animals, cheese, milk, eggs, and produce I showed them what is eliminated in a vegan diet as their looks of shock strengthened with each item I crossed out.

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talking to teenagers about veganism
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Talking To Teenagers about Veganism

I asked them what they thought about the vegan diet. I asked if they thought it was restrictive or difficult and almost everyone agreed to that. I asked them why they thought that people choose to eat vegan and their only conclusions were health-related. I asked them if despite all of this if they would be interested in participating in meatless Mondays if the school offered them and they said yes. This was a bizarre train of thought for me to experience as an outsider, but I didn’t question it.  

While I was talking to teenagers about veganism, a brave student raised their hand and asked me why I chose a plant-based diet to which I replied that I love animals too much to cause any harm to them. I said that I don’t see a dog as being any different than a pig or a cow.  

This simple yet different answer seemed to make sense to them. Everyone loves animals, many of my students have pets themselves so this seemed at least begin an internal dialogue within themselves. Since then, I’ve had students ask me what I eat during the holidays (as Christmas is coming up) and I’ve even given out a recipe for vegan Christmas cookies to one of my students. It’s the small steps that matter and I think that we have a good start here.

Talking to teenagers about veganism on your horizon? Let me know in the comments below.


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Gabriella Anaya

News Editor | Limoges, France | [email protected]

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Categories: Parenting

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