Teen Issues

Lots of teens think about going vegetarian when they become aware of the cruelty and environmental impact of a meat eating diet. It can be hard to take an ethical stand when you are the only one. Link up with your vegetarian community for support, friends, food and fun. We have resources and information to help you on these pages. Click the link for our downloadable pdf Vegetarian Teens. For teachers and youth workers, contact us if you would like to be sent multi copies of this leaflet or if you would like to invite a speaker from the Christchurch Vegetarian Centre to your class or youth group.

Food technology – in food technology and cooking classes, your teacher is required under the New Zealand Curriculum to provide for your needs. You have the right to be taught, just like anyone else. So if your class is cooking meat, your teacher should provide a vegetarian alternative so that your education is not disadvantaged. Of course, you need to inform your teacher well in advance so that your needs can be planned for. It may be helpful for your parents to be part of this process. If your teacher is reluctant to make alternative arrangements for you CLICK HERE for a letter which explains why it is a requirement to respect your educational needs under the Draft Curriculum. If your teacher needs support or information as to how to best meet your needs, they can contact us. We have experienced vegetarian and vegan teachers who would be happy to help them.

School cafeteria – your school cafeteria should provide suitable vegetarian or vegan options for all students. Fundraising sausage sizzles should offer a vegetarian alternative. Contact us for information on how to make constructive change at your school. We have helped many vegetarian students ensure their educational and dietary needs are being met at school.

Vivisection – If you are concerned about the use of animals in experiments and do not want to be part of dissection experiments at school, your teacher will need to provide an alternative method of learning for you. This method should be of the same educational standard as the animal dissection. If you have been allowed to opt out of dissection, but have not been given an alternative means of learning or just given books to read instead, CLICK HERE to contact SAFE for support, information and resources in getting your educational needs met.

School camps – if you are going on a school camp, you will want to ensure that you are provided with good vegetarian/vegan food while you are away so that you can keep up with all the camp activities. It is a good idea for either you or your parents to check with the teacher responsible for meals to ensure that you will be catered for. Do this well in advance of departure so that there is plenty of time to sort out your meals. Your parents may wish to have an adult named who you can go to if you have any food difficulties on camp. It is also a good idea to be clear just what is planned for your meals before you go. Sadly, some vegetarians on school camps have existed for a week eating only spuds or bread because the caterer either forgot or didn’t know there was a vegetarian/vegan attending. Be pro-active, ask to look at the camp menu so you can see before you go if you will be catered for. That gives you time to talk about it again with your teacher and get it sorted if your menu is just the same as the other students, minus the meat. That won’t keep you going. You are going to need protein food too, so ensure that vege sausages or nuts or tofu or other vegetarian protein foods are included for you.

Remember that every venue, whether it be city, bush, marae, billet or campus, will need to know in advance that you are vegetarian/vegan before you arrive. It is reasonable for you to expect to have your dietary needs catered for, but if they are not going to be, again, you need to know before you go so that you can improve it. Some non-vegetarians confuse vegetarianism with fussy eating and do not take it seriously. This attitude, (and lack of food), will affect your camp experience. If you find yourself on camp and not catered for or made to feel a burden for being different, talk with your teacher or a helpful adult. If there is no one who will help you, hang in there. Remember why you went vegetarian. You’re not trying to be difficult but sometimes living by your principles means being different from the mainstream. After camp, you can (or ask your parents to help you) talk it through with your teacher so that things can be improved for the next camp. It might not help you this time, but it will help the next vegetarian or vegan who goes on camp after you. If your teacher or camp caterer needs support or information as to how to best cater for your dietary needs while away, they can contact us. We have experienced vegetarian and vegan teachers/caterers/parents who have organised or helped on school camps who would be happy to help them.

Check out these online teen resources for vegetarians:

http://www.vrg.org/teen/

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Christchurch Vegetarian Centre
'Vegetarian Christchurch' Group
CVC Youth Group

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