The next generation of activists are starting early
There is something very special about that moment when we join the dots and realise the link between the food we’re eating and the animals we love. Genesis Butler has this experience far earlier than for most people. Going vegetarian of her own volition at the age of four, she chose to become vegan aged six, spurred on by a realisation she had watching her mother breastfeeding her baby brother.
Supported by her family, all of whom have joined Genesis in following a vegan lifestyle, she has gone from strength to strength in her animal advocacy. Genesis has picketed circuses, given speeches to her local governors, been interviewed on news stations and set up her own foundation to raise money for animals in need – all before her ninth birthday.
I took the opportunity to talk to the eight year old Genesis about her role as a young activist, her campaign work, and her ambitious plans for the future.
How old were you when you decided to go vegan?
I was six years old. I found out animals were killed for food, and the milk mama cows make for their babies was taken from them. I believe we shouldn’t kill animals for food or steal their milk, so I went vegan.
Do you think that children and adults think about animals differently?
Yes! Children seem to really love animals and care about them. An example is my baby brother who is six. Mom said it was up to him to decide if he wanted to go vegan too. One day he got upset when he saw a dead squirrel in the street. He started to cry, and I told him, “That’s why me and mom are vegan. We don’t want animals to die when they don’t have to.” Ever since that day he has been vegan and he loves it so much. He always says he is happy he doesn’t eat animals. He gets it.
Do people react differently to you as a young activist?
They like that I am a kid who is doing what I believe in. They are really interested in what I have to say, and I think they take me more seriously because they know I am speaking from my heart. They listen to me more than adults. When my Mom tells people she doesn’t believe in killing animals for food, they give her lots of excuses. When I tell them the same thing, they listen and want to know more.
Tell us about the speech you made to your local council
I talked about the environment because California is in a drought and all you hear is to take shorter showers or take less time brushing your teeth, but this only saves a little bit of water. People not eating animals can save thousands of gallons of water. I want people to know how the food they eat has an effect on everyone, and I wasn’t scared because I always do public speaking. Now people in the city see me and recognise me, and I tell them about being vegan.
Are people surprised that you’re such an athletic vegan?
Yes, because they thought I wouldn’t be strong or get enough protein. I play soccer, basketball, and football, and people were surprised to see that I was a really good athlete withe more energy than the other kids. I even got Most Valuable Player for my football team, and I wore my Vegan Power shirt to get my award. I became a lot stronger when I went vegan. All athletes should be vegan because it doesn’t only make them stronger physically but also mentally, and it makes your heart stronger and that’s what matters most.
What has been your favourite memory of campaigning for animals?
This was protesting a circus, because I was able to stand up for the animals even though the owners of the circus tried to bully me and be mean to me. The circus animals were right next to me in cages so I was able to talk to them and tell them I was going to help free them and make sure they can live in peace.
What would you say to others who want to get involved in animal rights?
Whatever you put your mind to, you can do. If you want to go vegan, you can. If you want to get involved in protests then you can look online and find demos. Try going to a demo and you will see how many people also care about animals. Don’t be afraid, the animals need us.
What are your plans for the future?
I am also working on my foundation, Genesis for Animals, which will help people who rescue animals and need money for vaccinations, food and vet bills. I want to save as many animal lives as possible. I will also help fund private farmed animal sanctuaries like my favourite sanctuary, Busters Barn. I even have a goat named after me there! I want to make the whole world go vegan – and I know I am getting there.
By Elena Orde
Follow Genesis’ story on Facebook at A Vegan Child’s Journey.
You can visit her foundation page at genesisforanimals.org.
The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.