12/05/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Living The Teenage Life; Peer Pressure and Carnivores

Vegetarian. What just came to mind when you read that word?... A hippie in a knitted beret? A guy with dreadlocks wearing a skirt?... When I tell people I'm a vegetarian, they go "oh!" and suddenly they look at me funny, like I'm some kind of a freak. True, I'm not following the majority, but I don't want to base my decisions on what all the others are doing just because it's easier and that's what has been drilled into our heads since birth. Normally, I am the black sheep of the flock. But I don't mind that when it comes down to it. I'd rather be criticized for being "weird" than participate in something that I feel is inhumane and destructive to our environment.

Even though you buy your nicely plastic-wrapped meat at the grocery store, it doesn't mean that what's in that package didn't suffer to get there. Many animal farms and slaughterhouses have been caught in the act of abusing their animals. Yet even after all the distressing undercover videos have been leaked, still the abuse continues; still people keep buying meat, even from the guilty companies. Anyone who is against animal cruelty should refuse to buy meat, because by adding to the demand they contribute to more animal abuse.

People argue that eating meat is natural for human beings. But consider this: Do we eat raw meat? Any other natural carnivore on this planet does, because it's instinct. But it's not natural for us humans. We've been trained that meat eating is normal, ever since the caveman started killing animals for food. Back then, when food was extremely scarce, animals and berries were basically all there was to survive. Plus, they galloped around like gorillas, wearing loincloths.

Don't you think our race has advanced just a little since then?

We have the technology to do without all the inhumane slaughtering, and we have access to other foods and vitamins to be healthy without meat. In fact, some of the longest living people on Earth are vegetarians. Cutting out meat from the diet reduces your risk of cancer and rids your body of many toxins consumed from meat.

Not only does a vegetarian diet increase your health, it saves our planet: our drinking water, our rainforests, our energy, our atmosphere, our less fortunate who are dying of starvation, and our animals who also have a right to live just like we do. Reducing our environmental footprint, in other words, living lightly on this earth, requires us to be vegetarian.

Becoming a vegetarian was one of the most important decisions I've ever made; it has completely changed the person I am today. I'll never go back. The environment, my health, and the other living things on our earth, all mean too much to me. I'm a better person today because of my decision. Yes, it takes a bit of work to maintain a vegetarian diet, but so does anything else important in life.