I am currently 17 years old, and I have recently given up meat and fish. It hasn’t been easy, convincing my family to let me. Mostly, it’s been difficult having them take me seriously. Unless I change my mind, I strongly consider going vegan once I’m 18 and technically, legally able to do whatever I want. I very slightly mentioned veganism to my mom, and let’s just say she isn’t really down for it.

However, this is not about me. At least, not completely. I have vegan and vegetarian friends, and it’s funny because I always thought that I would be unable to give up meat and dairy. Nevertheless, within the past months, I have grown to strongly believe I can live without meat. And now, I think I could definitely quit eggs and dairy. So some may wonder, what made me change my mind?

I saw a documentary called Earthlings, which I read made Ellen DeGeneres go vegetarian, and some of my veggie friends said it was really good as well. No kidding. I cried watching it. It shows you the ugly truth. And it’s not just the fact that you can see what they do to the animals. They also talk about a very important concept: speciesism. If you don’t know what that is, I bet you do know what racism and sexism are. It’s the belief that a group of people is superior and should have more power than another group, although they are born in equal rights and dignity. It’s the same with speciesism, but instead, between humans and non-human animals. I’m pointing that out because we tend to forget that we are animals, too.

Most of us are speciesists. We are killing animals, or turning them into our entertainment, because we are completely convinced that we are above them. So much, that we have this God complex. We don’t only decide whether they get to live or not, but we also get to choose how they die. We are murdering them. And in our eyes, that is completely normal. It’s all cultural, and therefore, learned.

So apparently humans are the smartest species on Earth (although despite that, I believe we’re incredibly stupid), but does that mean that we should have more right to live? We are all earthlings. All of the animals were created to habit this planet, and I strongly believe it was for a reason. Perhaps you should ask someone who knows more about the issue, but the more I get informed on this, the more I reckon that one day, most people will become vegan and vegetarian. Now I’m not saying this is going to happen in two years, nor in twenty, but someday in the future. And I am positive that the reason that most people aren’t, is because you can’t feel what you can’t see. Before I thought about going vegetarian, I loved eating meat just as much as the next person. But even then, I knew something wasn’t quite right. The thing is, we think we know what they do to the animals in farms and slaughterhouses, but we really don’t. And there is a reason why only the people who work there can see (the documentary Earthlings has images of it because they installed secret cameras). It’s because they know that if people, or at least most people, saw how the animals are tortured and put under inhumane conditions, they wouldn’t buy the meat. If they saw how they kill whales and fish and treat them as if they were nothing, as if they couldn’t feel, they wouldn’t buy that. And that is no good for business. And that, the way I see it, is disgusting.

At the end of the day, the truth is, that we don’t want to see it either. Ignorance is our best friend. I’m convinced that is the reason why people don’t want to watch these documentaries, or get informed about what is actually going on. Because they just like the taste of meat so much. And in that aspect, we are selfish. We stay ignorant because it is more comfortable for us; it always is. However, let me tell you something: we don’t really like the taste of meat itself. We like everything that they add to it so it tastes that way. And they do that to keep us buying, too. Same thing with dairy. In the end, we don’t really know what’s in our plate. So that’s why I truly believe a plant-based diet allows us to be more in control.

Some might say that one person going vegan or vegetarian won’t change anything. Whenever I am told this, I’ll answer: “well, maybe not. But at least I’ll know I’m not a part of it.” I don’t want to shove veganism or vegetarianism down anyone’s throat, but I do mantain that it is important to talk about this since it’s a public health issue. Mostly, I want to remind everyone that small groups of people, doing small things, can change the world.