10/06/2011 02:40 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2011

Confessions of a 15-Year-Old Vegan

My parents' generation is the green movement generation. They all attempt to make more sustainable choices and live a greener lifestyle. Reduce, reuse, recycle and all that. My generation, our generation, is taking the next step and eating in a greener way. We are trying to keep our planet intact for our children, and we are becoming vegetarians and vegans. I am one
such person. My name is Samantha Golden, and I am a 15-year-old vegan.

I decided to become a vegan about six months ago. A family friend who is vegan recommended a blog to me, ohsheglows, and I began reading it. I never even thought about going vegan. My sister and I did not eat any red meat, and then I became pescatarean, which means the only "meat," or animal, eaten is fish. A few months later, after I moved, I became vegetarian. One thing just flowed to the next. After reading the blog for a while I decided to take the next step and gradually work my way into being vegan.

Obesity runs in my dad's side of the family and I am determined not to be next. The obesity has really impacted me emotionally; a member of my family was just recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. That was really when it hit home for me that this was not a game and if I didn't really step it up I would be next. I think I had somewhat of a panic attack when I heard this. I have always exercised daily and eaten well but I never felt like that was enough and soon after, I was having a teen angst attack and was feeling horrible about myself. (Girls you know what I'm talking about!) For whatever reason, I felt compelled to go on the blog and low and behold it was an article on self-love! At that moment I felt a small tug inside me telling me that this is what I should be doing, that veganism is right for me.

The main reason I chose to be vegan was all of the health benefits, I also love that being vegan protects animals and the environment. I did not wake up one morning and think to myself, "Hey, I think I'll try being vegan today, it sounds like fun." I found myself drifting down that road and decided to take a steady jog until I reached my destination. I also researched veganism before I made my final decision. It took huge amounts of convincing on my part to my parents also, because they had a hard enough time with me being a vegetarian. At first they didn't believe me when I walked downstairs and said, "I'm going to be a vegan." When they realized I was serious I was hard-pressed to make a good argument. It basically went like this: "Mom, Dad, I am going to be a vegan." Mom: "No you're not. I can't cook for you, and how will you get your protein and calcium?" Me: "I've had almond milk before, actually liked it and it has more calcium than regular milk. I will eat tofu and beans, and I need to learn how to cook." I eventually won the argument and here I am, six months later, with wonderful, supportive parents. Don't get me wrong, they still get on my nerves -- I am a teenager, after all.

I have learned how to cook and bake many things. Some examples are green monsters, vegan mac and cheese, snickerdoodles, pumpkin gingerbread and peanut butter swirl pancakes. Most of the time when my family cooks they will set aside something for me that has no cheese, meat, or butter. Other times they will make foods with Earth Balance instead of butter. Still other times I am forced to scavenge our pantry for edible foods while they eat a delicious-looking meal. Although I have made my decision, I am still tempted to eat some things. When I am I usually leave the kitchen. When I go to friends' houses, I tell them to tell their parents I am vegetarian instead of vegan. This is because it is very difficult to cook for a vegan that is not your family member. I do want to be able to go back to my friend's house, after all. Being a teenage vegan is difficult but I have found that it is worth it.

Whenever people ask me why I am a vegan I give them all of the benefits. They usually spit the disadvantages right back. I just sit quietly until they are done. After they get this one-sided debate out of their system, I calmly tell them that I was in no way implying that they should become vegans. This life choice is not for everyone, and it is a choice. I would not disrespect them by insulting the way they eat and live, and I just expect the same respect in turn. I chose to become a vegan because I felt like it was the right thing for me to do. I feel as though the pros outweigh the cons a million times over in my case. Being a teenage vegan is difficult and sometimes I end up eating all carbs, which is when I will do a hard workout. This is my story and you are more than welcome to share in it.