With school coming to a close this week, I want to share something pretty remarkable that took place this year.
In the spring, our 10 year old, Bridget, came to me after school about speeches taking place in her class. The conversation went something like this:
B: Mom, we are doing speeches in our class and get to pick our own topic.
Me: Ok, well, what do you think you’d like to talk about?
B: I already know. I want to talk about why people shouldn’t eat meat and dairy.
I paused for a minute. Then I replied “Are you sure?? We can think of other ideas?”
In other words, I wasn’t sure. While we talk about many aspects of food at home, I don’t expect our girls to be activists in school or with their friends. I don’t ask them to preach the values of a plant-based diet. But this came up entirely organically for her. Despite my questioning her readiness, she was certain. She was passionate to share why she felt, in her heart, why people shouldn’t eat meat and dairy.
She presented her speech to her class, and was then chosen to present her speech to the school and parents.
I’m posting her speech for you to read and share:
Good morning / afternoon teachers and fellow students!
Raise your hand if you eat meat or dairy. Raise your hand if you think you have to eat meat and dairy to be healthy.
My name is Bridget, and today I’m going to share 3 important reasons not to eat meat and dairy: our health, the environment, and animals.
Meat and dairy are not good for us like people think. Studies have shown that our biggest health problems are linked to eating meat and dairy – including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. We don’t need to eat meat or dairy, we can get all the nutrition we need in other foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, and grains. Not only can you be healthier without eating meat and dairy, it is also better for our environment, and kinder to animals that share our world.
In order for us to eat meat and dairy, animals have to be raised in factory farms. These are not farms with grass and sunshine. Instead, animals are kept in buildings that are factories, and people are cruel to the animals. Animals suffer and are tortured every day of their lives on these farms. On milk farms, baby cows are even torn away from their moms so the mommy cows can produce milk. If they don’t produce enough milk they kill the cows. The baby cows never see their mothers again.
Eating meat and milk products is also bad for our environment. We all want to do things like recycle, and use less water to help our environment. But, the one thing that makes the MOST difference? How much meat and dairy we eat. Consider this: skipping just one burger saves enough water to drink for 3 months!
Chickens, pigs, and cows feel and love just the same as animals like cats and dogs. They bond with other animals, and with people too. They value their lives just as much as we do, and they feel pain just as we do. If people treated our cats and dogs the way cows and chickens are treated on factory farms, they would be arrested! Yet, we eat these animals every day, but we would never imagine eating our dog or cat.
I have been raised without meat and dairy. I’m healthy, happy, and just like other kids. I eat pizza, hot dogs, burgers, ice cream, and so many other delicious foods, without any meat or milk! Every time we make a choice not to eat animals, it helps our health, our planet, and the animals. Please think about this. Thank you.
She asked if she could wear the “Plant-Powered” t-shirt for her speech. I didn’t encourage that one, either! Here she is on her way out the door that morning…
…and here she is delivering her speech to the school (see the raised hands?)
As a parent, we wonder whether our children are receiving the lessons and messages we are communicating. When days are tough, we feel our efforts are wasted, or that we are doing a terrible job as a mother or father. Then, we have moments where we see our children blossoming, developing into their own person. We see their heart, their courage, their care, their beautiful spirit.
This was one of those moments for me. Bridget feels more compassion about animals than any of our daughters. It’s just “in” her. She wants to free every bug or fly that enters our home, and she wants to start an animal rescue this summer… at our house! (We’ll talk about that one, lol.) But, this child has a heart for animals. More than I ever impressed upon her or ever expected. She was proud to present this speech, and I was beyond proud to listen to her.
Who knows, next year we may revolutionize hot lunch. Baby steps.
Feel free to share this speech!