Guest Blog Post from - my friend @sarahnow Sarah Newman

Sarah Newman is Research Manager at Participant Media which produced Food, Inc.  She also regularly blogs for Huffington Post and Take Part

How to be a Cool Kid

I recently returned from a conference in Northern California sponsored by a group called Teens Turning Green. I was a bit apprehensive to attend because I wondered what I could say to teens who probably view me as an older person who isn’t in touch with their generation. Upon entering the conference though, I immediately felt at home. These kids were much the way I was when I was there age. They were activists, questioners and committed to making lifestyle changes for the health of our planet. While I might have been a bit intense, serious and not a “cool kid” when I was a teen, I saw myself in so many of these teens. And, what was even better is that times seemed to have changed because they were also cool!

So many things that were still rather “fringe” elements when I was a kid are commonplace now. It takes thousands -perhaps millions- of people, to push issues so that they are eventually accepted by the broader public. It’s hard to be the person who challenges the status quo, who lives a bit differently and questions the actions of our collective, but it’s also important. Without people’s commitment to living out their beliefs and values, we would not be able to improve our society.

One behavior that I adopted when I was pretty young was becoming a vegetarian. I don’t know exactly how old I was but I think I was about 10. It was a gradual process; I was finally a full vegetarian by about eighth grade after I forsake tuna fish. I didn’t have any other friends (aside from my mom) who were vegetarians at the time but it felt like the right thing for me to do. I realized that I didn’t want to eat animals anymore and I haven’t looked back (25 years later!). Even today, people question my being a vegetarian despite it being pretty commonplace now.

I’m still challenging myself. I only eat eggs that I buy at my farmers market. I’ve tried to be vegan but that didn’t work out. I sometimes think about going vegan again but also try to just limit my dairy consumption to reputable companies with humane animal practices (there aren’t many).

I’m inspired by young people today, like Orren, who are boldly embracing sustainble food practices and helping to make them mainstream. These kids are mentors to their generation and mine. It requires devotion and self-confidence. I know growing up, especially the high school years, can be hard. But, practicing what you believe in, despite all of the possible social norms you might be breaking, is the coolest thing you can do.

Sarah Newman

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