18 May 2011

Ever heard of veggie bullying? When a child is picked on for being vegetarian

So my nine-year-old daughter started getting bullied at school.

It's not because she doesn't have any friends - she has lots. It's not because she's ugly - she's quite stunning. It's not because she's a nerd - she's a very accomplished athlete.

It's because she's vegetarian.

She's not even really vegetarian, but I am and she's asking me questions and learning about the reasons behind my food choices. She's thinking about those ideas and making some of her own food choices based on the things she believes are right and wrong.

I'm so proud of her.

But the other day she was crying when I came home from work. She told me that at lunch, some of the boys in her class are teasing her about being veggie. One boy chased her around the room chanting, "Eat the meat! Eat the meat!" On pizza day she picked the pepperoni off her slice and another boy came up and said, "You know what the best thing about my pizza is? The MEAT!" Everyone laughed.

It's not always easy to do what you think is right. People judge you all the time.

I don't get bullied, but I constantly have to deal with the critical questions, the challenges about why I choose not to eat meat, the analysis and judgment about whether I'm perfect enough at being vegetarian.

Three times a day I make the choice because I believe in my heart that it's the right thing to do. But I often find myself hoping that people won't ask too many questions because it's just easier to avoid the inquisition.

She nine and she's not avoiding anything. That's why she's my hero.

Sara Best | @shbest
Sara was literally born into the animal welfare movement. While growing up, her father worked with various organizations on campaigns from the Canadian seal hunt to the slaughter of dogs in the Philippines to the ivory trade in Africa. Eventually, Sara became involved in animal protection projects herself. Now she is a writer living near Toronto, a mom to two little omnivores and married to one dedicated carnivore. Visit Sara's blog.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/ainnicer1971