Today, we give you another installment of our continuing series, Not Just a Phase, where we’ve asked friends, colleagues, and total strangers to talk about how they came to be vegetarian/vegan. You can read more about it here. And if you’re vegetarian or vegan and want to tell your story, send us an email! But first, check out lauren’s story.

I first went vegetarian when I was really young and I feel like there wasn’t one thing that happened to bring it on, though I am told that when my mom told me what chicken was, I didn’t want to eat it anymore. I think my decision may have actually come about more from seeing cows in the fields and not wanting to break up their families. I don’t think I consciously recognized how much my parent’s divorce impacted me, so I don’t know that I saw the cows and made a connection, but something sunk in that, by eating meat, I would be breaking up a family, and that would be painful and I just didn’t want to do that. As I was the only veg person I knew—and I didn’t even know at the time that a term existed for people who didn’t want to eat animals—I would try to not want to eat meat by picturing a cow not coming home because someone decided to eat him or her. So I stopped eating cows and eventually stopped eating all animals. Eventually, I went vegan in high school when I started learning more about the egg and dairy industry.

lauren Ornelas

lauren runs an all volunteer non-profit, Food Empowerment Project, volunteers with a local animal rights group, and works full time with the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition.

Find out more about Food Empowerment Project here and, a project of FEP, here. And have a great weekend everyone.