Teen Vegetarian's Personal Ethics Tested

Got a job selling hot dogs, don't know if it's ethically right

I decided to become vegetarian a couple of months ago, and I am only thirteen. My dad opposes it, my mom tries to support me, and I have found no one else in my grade at school who also has a vegetarian diet.

In my search for a job in order to pay for future school trips, I have found one selling hot dogs. I haven't started it yet, but it pays about $70 per Saturday including tips. I do not know what to do.

It is very hard for a thirteen year old to find a job, especially one that pays so well. My parents think that I should take it. I can see why, because otherwise they would be paying for the entire trip, but I don't think it goes with my personal ethics.

Please Help!!! - L. B.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice

Dear L. B.,

You do have a real ethics problem! I can only give you my observations and perspective as a long time vegetarian, and mother of three girls (all grown up now). But I can't really tell you what you should do.

Two of my vegetarian children worked in fast food restaurants to raise money for school trips, for extra spending money, and to gain some independence.

Like you, they found that job opportunites were limited and not highly paid, unlike the opportunity you have. They had to handle animal foods in these jobs, but for them the alternative - not taking the job, not learning the lifeskills they did, and not having the money for their personal goals - overrode that objection.

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Another thing to keep in mind is that even though you've become vegetarian, the majority of people haven't, and right or wrong, it's their decision to make. It may upset you when people eat animals and perpetuate cruelty, environmental degradation, poor health, etc, and maybe you want no part of that.

It's a hard choice to make, because it means you have to build a separate life from most of the people around you, at home, school and work. But, especially at your age, you need support from family and friends.

Plus, you're responsible not only to your newly adopted vegetarian diet, but to your parents, and your education. My advice to you is bend and blend to fit the circumstances and do as well as you can. The day will soon come when you can arrange your world more according to your ideals.

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

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