Those who know me well know that I am not fond of veganism — at all. I freely admit that what people do with their diets, their own lives, and their personal behavior should be their own business as long as it doesn’t impact others negatively. I may not be very fond of veganism, but I do support people doing what they want to do without interference...unless you are 13 years old and in my house. And even more so when you aren’t my 13-year-old daughter, but her friend that basically lives at my house from Thursdays until Sundays every week.

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It hadn’t been long after we arrived here in Fort Lauderdale that my daughter made a friend at school and wanted her to come over to hang out and stay the night. Her friend seemed innocent enough: quiet, well-mannered, and all normal looking; a little Puerto Rican girl who seemed pretty cool. And then the bomb dropped.

Meat-Eating Daughter: “Dad, she can’t eat that because she is vegan.”

Me: “What? You can’t be serious. She’s 13 years old. What the hell would she know about veganism?”

Meat-Eating Daughter: (Shrugs)

Me: “You send her out here to the kitchen; I want to talk to her.”

I have destroyed people for years about veganism and this was going to be yet another slaying – only worse, because she was 13 years old and I was going to grill her about what she thought she knew. However, the little turd caught me off guard. I spent about 20 minutes asking her questions without being confrontational, waiting for her to slip up and say something dumb. I let her talk and explain her thoughts about why she is a vegan. I expected her to be defensive yet she was apathetic; she didn’t feel the need to have to justify her position and she was quite well-versed for a 13-year-old. In fact, much more so than many vegans that I have run into who are adults.

After letting her say her piece, I strategically moved in for the kill.

Me: “Which one of your parents is a vegan? Your mom?”

Plant-Eating Girl: “No, neither of my parents are vegan.”

Me (In My Head): "Well, that one backfired."

Me: “You’re Puerto Rican. Aren’t you supposed to grow a fat ass and be curvy? How in the hell are you going to get un-skinny eating plants?”

Plant Eater (Laughing): “I don’t know.”

Me: “Not eating animals is nothing to laugh at. This is serious business. I bet your parents can’t stand that you are such a picky eater.”

Non-Carnivore Weird Girl: “They actually support it.”

Me (In My Head): "This is not going as planned."

Me: “Let me guess, you have been vegan now for a month?”

Smartass Puerto Rican Girl: “About a year and a half.”

Me: “I bet you still like your ice cream and snacks, right? Maybe a cracker or tortilla with your rice and beans? Maybe a doughnut or two?”

Plant Eater: “I love ice cream, but I get non-dairy ice cream and only have a doughnut if it is not cooked in animal fat.”

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We continued to discuss this, as I was sure I would trip her up. I mean, she’s only 13; there was no way this girl was that serious, right? After a considerably lengthy conversation (that she was obviously getting bored with), I had to concede and let them go on their way. I felt defeated for the first time after facing a skinny, non-protein-eating human. What the hell happened? Am I off my game?

I couldn’t get it out of my head and figured I would just keep an eye on her and wait for her to slip up when we went out to eat. She is at our home every weekend and eats routinely with us. When we go out to eat she almost always goes (Skiploading, too). This turd doesn’t stray. She asks if things are cooked in animal fat. She will not eat a burger, opting for the non-meat version every time. She won’t eat a snack or anything that the other girls eat, even if there is a group of them together hanging out. Slowly, she swayed me and I can’t help but be a bit impressed.

Understand that she is 13. At 13, most kids couldn’t give a shit what they eat as long as it tastes good, and very few, if any, have any self-control or even a rudimentary understanding of food or nutrition. They damn sure don’t want to be seen as an outcast or standout, for fear of someone thinking they are “weird.” Yet, here is Puerto Rican Girl not giving a shit – and this is not attention seeking, either, I don’t believe. Originally, I figured it must be, but after watching her weekly for months, she would rather not be noticed and not be asked about it and just make her choices and move on.

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Where am I going with this? It occurred to me that I had parallels at that same age when I started bodybuilding. No, I was not an active PETA member, but I was damn sure digging into nutrition research and only interested in eating food that was healthy and was going to help me get hyuge (though that word wouldn’t surface for another 30 years, I was still thinking it). I was a bit of an outcast eating tuna out of a can, keeping fat low, and eating plain baked potatoes for lunch at school.

I have been forced to understand (by a 13-year-old) that not everyone who is vegan is a dumbass. When I say “dumbass,” I mean that in my experience, vegans have little understanding of nutrition and are usually only motivated by what I consider their altruistic intentions of “I must save these poor animals, as they shouldn’t be eaten.” That would be cool if not for this thing we call the food chain. Still, I have come to respect that people sometimes make choices and actually do stick with them due to their beliefs. Puerto Rican Girl doesn’t like to eat meat because she feels this is advocating for animal cruelty. I don’t disagree, but I couldn’t give a shit about anything other than whether the dead animal tastes good. Plus, I figure if vegans don’t eat burgers at a burger place, there is far less of a chance that they are going to run out of tasty animal flesh before I order.

When most of the adult population is clueless and the average vegan lasts roughly three months in their vegan phase (I checked the stats and this is accurate, believe it or not), this girl at 13 has stayed committed to her beliefs and likely will continue to. Yes, it’s a giant sigh when she goes with us for high-end burgers and orders something non-animal, but over time I have decided that I respect her position more than it irritates me. Plus, she’s a cool kid and a good friend to my daughter and reminds me a lot of myself at that age. She is always welcome here — but if my daughter decides to do the same and not eat meat, that bitch will need to find new parents. Just Sayin’.