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From  Issue
16 June 2002
ParkStRanger Goes to School

By Greg Lawson - ParkStRanger@aol.com

One of the great benefits of being president of the Vegetarian Society of El Paso is that I am frequently asked to give talks to local clubs and high schools. I always feel that if I reach just one person my time will have been well spent. A month or so ago, I was asked to give a talk at an area elementary school to a 5th grade class. I readily agreed but as the date approached I began to worry how much they could absorb and I wondered how much I should expose them too. It's not that I believe young people should be sheltered from the truth, but I didn't want to upset them or get angry phone calls from parents - "What have you done to my kid? He won't drink his milk."

I arrived at the school last Tuesday and met with the Librarian, Mrs. Williams, who had invited me. She thanked me for coming and said that she was looking forward to my talk as her daughter was a vegetarian. "She had Dr. Steve Best for a class and came home one day and announced she was a vegetarian." I laughed and shook my head, "You wouldn't believe how many times I have heard that exact same story."

Steve teaches Philosophy (heavy on animal rights) at the University of Texas, El Paso, is a fellow journalist for Animal Writes, Vice President of Vegetarian Society of El Paso , <http://utminers.utep.edu/vsep>, President of VOICE FOR ALL ANIMALS <http://www.zianet.com/boje/voice/index.html>, and is one of the most active animal advocates I know. I am really looking forward to hearing his talks at AR2002. Animal Rights 2002 National Conference http://www.animalrights2002.org/ 

"I have never spoken to a group so young before," I told Mrs. Williams. "It will be a challenge. One thing I am surprised about though, you didn't ask me if I would be talking about slaughterhouses or showing graphic pictures."

She laughed, "I would have asked that question if we were having Steve Best here instead of you."

"I can't imagine Steve giving a speech to ten year olds, that wouldn't be pretty," I cringed. "Do you have any books on vegetarianism in your library?"

"No, we don't. Can you recommend some titles?" she asked.

"We might have some children's books in the Veg Society library, I'll make sure you get a book or two and we have a pamphlet called Vegetarianism for Teens. I'll get you some of those."

"Thank you, that would be great," she said.

So I talked to the kids, and I was careful to avoid words like "sustainability." I showed them some fact sheets I use with an overhead projector at our society's annual vegetarian workshop and I tried to speak so 5th graders could understand.

The Only witty thing I have Ever seen Anti animal rights people say was to call people like me PETAphiles, LOL, and I sure was feeling like one.

And the moment I had been hoping for happened. When I had finished with the heath reasons for vegism, I said "Many of us choose to be vegetarians cause we don't want to hurt animals, or cause them pain." And I saw one little girl nodding her head vigorously and I knew my time had been well spent.

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