School just started—new year, new you, right? Start the school year off right by planning ahead and checking with your teacher and administrators about the sort of activities, field trips, and fundraisers that might be taking place this year and whether any of them involve animals!
Learning about animals is a great way to understand others, but using them for entertainment is not. So what can you do to help animals this school year? Keep reading to find out.
Lots of kids have their birthday during the school year, so it’s likely that you’re going to have one or two (or three or four or five) birthday celebrations in class this year—on top of a variety of other celebrations that deserve a party (or at least something sweet to eat). Because of this, it’s important to talk to teachers ahead of time to let them know that you’re a vegan and that, since some cupcakes and other desserts contain eggs and/or milk, you’ll want to have some vegan desserts on hand for any occasion. Suggest keeping a delicious vegan treat—like cupcakes or ice cream sandwiches—in the class or school freezer, and remind your teacher to take one out for you whenever the whole class is celebrating something with a nonvegan sweet treat. Or talk with your parents about bringing some yummy vegan desserts to a couple of parties this year so the whole class can try them! ☺️
School field trips to miserable roadside zoos, circuses, marine parks, or shady aquariums? Heck, no! If your school is planning a cruel field trip, talk to your teacher about it (and have your parents or other students speak up, too), explaining that you don’t want to support shady businesses that exploit animals and would prefer a different destination. After all, the purpose of field trips is for students to learn new things beyond the classroom, but visiting a place that doesn’t treat animals well just teaches that it’s OK for humans to use them for entertainment. Suggest animal-friendly field trips—like museums, natural parks, farm sanctuaries, crop farms, and botanical gardens—that actually teach something and are completely animal-friendly. If your teacher isn’t open to your ideas, try going to your principal instead. You can either write a letter or meet face-to-face.
Some teachers mistakenly believe that having animals in the classroom is a good way to teach students about responsibility, animal care, and science. While they have good intentions, a classroom simply isn’t a good home for an animal. If you find out your teacher is thinking about getting a class “pet,” speak up—and ask other students, teachers, or parents to speak up, too. Explain that having a class “pet” supports breeders, who keep animals in cruel and filthy conditions, often don’t provide proper veterinary care, and even abuse them. Breeders also contribute to the animal overpopulation problem. Also, let your teacher know how unnatural it is for an animal to live in a cage and how it can cause the animal to feel stressed. Don’t forget to explain how class “pets” can put the classroom AND the animal in danger. Not only are animals often left alone to fend for themselves when everyone goes home, they can also be mishandled or abused by other classmates, sometimes even leading to death. ? On top of all of that, dangerous bacteria like salmonella can spread from the animal to students in the class during handling—yikes!
For most schools, fundraising is something that’s needed to bring in money for the school year, and it can also be a fun way to bring students and staff together. But what’s not fun is when schools participate in fundraisers that involve animals. Inhumane fundraisers like donkey basketball, school-sponsored circuses, kiss-a-pig events, and animal giveaways are cruel and teach humans—young and old alike—that animals can be used for entertainment and can be seen as objects or “things,” preventing us from seeing them as living, breathing, sentient individuals who have their own needs and interests. If you learn that there’s already an inhumane fundraiser being planned, speak or write to your principal, explaining that these fundraisers send students and parents the wrong message. Suggest humane fundraisers instead, such as a vegan bake sale, a car wash, or rubber-duck derby racing. Don’t be afraid to ask your teacher or parent for help.
Sadly, those who’ve chosen to live a compassionate lifestyle aren’t always given a healthy vegan cafeteria option, even though studies show that eating this way helps protect the environment, saves animals, and is better for human health. Don’t animals, students, and teachers all deserve those benefits? We sure think so! Sometimes, change happens simply because someone asks for it. Write to members of your administration, the school’s food services manager, or your principal about the health benefits of offering a vegan option at lunch. If your concerns aren’t taken seriously after you’ve asked for a veggie burger option and presented information on it to the school, you’ll need to gather support for your cause. Print out this Veggie Burger Project petition and get friends, classmates, teachers, and parents to sign it. Then take it back to your principal to show how much support and demand there is for a healthy vegan option at your school.
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