I told my mother ‘I didn’t want to eat animals anymore’

Picture of a young girl holding a baby chick in her hands
Now we know better – we must do better.


I told my mother I didn’t want to eat animals anymore when I was seven years old, so my heart soared when I saw Tesco’s recent ad for meat-free sausages featuring a young girl uttering those exact words. My hope and optimism were quickly dampened by the hysterical responses of contrarians such as Janet Street Porter, Joanna Blythman and of course Piers Morgan!

Unlike Tesco’s understanding father, mine reacted as Joanna Blythman suggested in a recent Grocer article – saying I needed meat to survive and that’s why those animals exist. Their old-fashioned ‘parent knows best’ approach worked for a few years, until I met a 40-year-old lifelong vegetarian when I was 15. I haven’t eaten meat in the 33 years since that day and have been vegan for more than 29 years.

As a healthy 48-year-old who does marathons and triathlons, I know without a doubt that my parents were wrong – about the need to eat meat and to deny me the right to set my own moral compass. Their authoritarian response did not stop me from living according to my beliefs, but it did create a barrier between us that has never been erased. Tesco’s supportive dad is an encouraging sign of society’s progress. My parents reacted based on popular beliefs in the 70s about meat-free diets and children’s free will. Now we know better – we must do better.

Toni Vernelli
Head of Communications
Veganuary

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