Ge­n­e­sis But­ler

Meet the young ve­gan ac­tivist who is chang­ing the world

Raise Vegan - - Contents - Pho­tos by Beth Red­wood

Meet Ge­n­e­sis But­ler, a trail­blaz­ing eleven- year- old ve­gan and an­i­mal rights ad­vo­cate. De­spite her young age, she al­ready has an im­pres­sive track record; she has ap­peared in doc­u­men­taries, given pre­sen­ta­tions around the coun­try and she has even spo­ken at a TEDx event, she is the youngest per­son in his­tory to do so.

Her talk, “A 10- Year- Old’s Vi­sion for Healing the Planet,” from April 2017, was about the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact an­i­mal agri­cul­ture has on the planet and how go­ing ve­gan can help re­verse the dam­age.

It came as no sur­prise to learn that she is de­scended from a long line of so­cial jus­tice war­riors. Her great- grand­uncle was Ce­sar Chavez, an Amer­i­can civil rights ac­tivist and la­bor leader.

At Raise Ve­gan, our core mis­sion is to raise, and help other peo­ple raise, young men and women who will one day share Ge­n­e­sis’s com­mit­ment to the en­vi­ron­ment. It is our hope that the fu­ture gen­er­a­tions we are rais­ing will join her on the mis­sion to help pro­mote a more sus­tain­able life through kind­ness, com­pas­sion and ac­tivism.

RV: Hi Ge­n­e­sis, thank you so much for this in­ter­view, we’re so ex­cited that the younger gen­er­a­tion has such a de­voted role model to look up to! To start off, how did you end up ad­vo­cat­ing for the an­i­mals and be­com­ing one of the lead­ing voices for to­day’s youth in the world of ve­g­an­ism?

G: Hello! When I was 3 years old, my fa­vorite food was chicken nuggets and I started to won­der where they came from. And I knew it didn’t just come from the gro­cery store, it had to come from some­where else, my mom fi­nally told me that we killed an­i­mals for them. I was dev­as­tated and said that I never wanted to eat them again. I had al­ways loved an­i­mals, so I didn’t want to eat them any­more, and my mom agreed that I could stop. Af­ter a few months, and notic­ing that my mom was nurs­ing my lit­tle sis­ter, I asked her about where milk came from. When I men­tioned that some­one was steal­ing the baby cows milk from their own moms, she replied, “Ac­tu­ally, I never thought about it that way, but that’s ex­actly what it is.”

“When I first be­came ve­gan, it was just me at home be­ing a kid, and I was just so pas­sion­ate about it that I didn’t want to go back, so it is pos­si­ble, and it just

de­pends on how you view it.”

RV: That is im­pres­sive; to start ques­tion­ing the food in­dus­try so young and without any ex­ter­nal in­flu­ences, that’s some­thing a lot of peo­ple never come to on their own! Did your fam­ily fol­low your lead and be­come ve­gan as well?

RV: My par­ents thought it was a phase that I was go­ing through at the time, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing I was only three years old. My mom re­spected my de­ci­sion at that age and didn’t try to feed me an­i­mal prod­ucts. For my birth­day, she planned an en­tire week­end in a ho­tel with fam­ily and a daytrip to a zoo. When we ar­rived, I was up­set and asked her why she brought me to a prison. I was four years old, and watch­ing an­i­mals sad with their heads down while peo­ple were walk­ing around eat­ing turkey legs, it just didn’t make sense. It was up­set­ting to me that we would be out eat­ing and there are pic­tures of happy an­i­mals on the walls, but ev­ery­one has them on their plates. My mom said that I could show the pic­tures of the an­i­mals and ex­plain it to my dad, which I did! Ev­ery­one pretty much went ve­gan right away.

RV: Speak­ing of birth­day par­ties. How do you nav­i­gate them now as a ve­gan, we al­ways talk about how par­ents han­dle so­cial events, but it’s not of­ten we get to hear a kid’s opin­ion.

G: Well, usu­ally I take my own ve­gan op­tions. And I al­ways bring enough for more peo­ple be­cause I want them to try it too. One time, I brought my own ve­gan pizza and it was gone so fast I barely had a slice for me.

RV: That’s awe­some, ac­tivism through food is how I spread the word too, let the food speak for it­self. I know you’re tech­ni­cally home­schooled, but it’s a co- op school. Are you the only ve­gan kid there?

G: No, there are a lot of moms and kids that are ac­tivists, and most of them are vege­tar­ian and ve­gan. I know there are about four of them that are ve­gan, so [ I have] a few school friends that are ve­gan.

RV: You started your In­sta­gram chan­nel and be­gan pub­lic speak­ing at such a young age, how did you first get into it?

I wanted to start it sooner, but my mom wouldn’t al­low me to; it ( A Ve­gan Child’s Jour­ney) started be­cause I wanted to show that you can grow up ve­gan and still be healthy, strong and help the an­i­mals. But then peo­ple I didn’t know started fol­low­ing me, which I thought was weird but cool at the same time, and an­other per­son sent the ac­count a mes­sage, ask­ing if I wanted to speak at an event called, The World Ve­gan Sum­mit. I was only six years old then, and I told my mom some­one mes­saged me and she asked if I wanted to do it, ex­plain­ing what pub­lic speak­ing meant.

At my first speech, I was su­per scared and ner­vous, be­cause there were so many peo­ple there. But then I viewed ev­ery­one in the au­di­ence as ve­gan pizza to mo­ti­vate me, and mom took me for some ve­gan pizza af­ter­wards to cel­e­brate. In­sta­gram has re­ally helped me to sup­port the ve­gan com­mu­nity. Go­ing to sanc­tu­ar­ies and events and ev­ery­thing al­ways re­minds me of why I’m do­ing this and it’s al­ways for the an­i­mals.

RV: That’s so amaz­ing, you seem like a nat­u­ral at pub­lic speak­ing! Have you come across some­one or some­thing through so­cial me­dia that in­spires you?

I think it’s ac­tu­ally su­per cool when peo­ple that are older go ve­gan be­cause it shows that it’s never too late. I knew a lady that went ve­gan at 92 years old, so that’s pretty cool. See­ing peo­ple buy ve­gan meats and stuff, too, in­stead of an­i­mal meat is the best! It’s also amaz­ing to know that ve­g­an­ism is be­com­ing a lot more well- known and there are a lot more op­tions now too.

RV: Ab­so­lutely, it’s in­cred­i­ble that the older gen­er­a­tion is be­com­ing more ve­gan- cu­ri­ous too. What are some of your fa­vorite new ve­gan op­tions?

G: When I first went ve­gan, I was only eat­ing oreos as a treat, but now there are so many dif­fer­ent op­tions [ at the gro­cery store] like Gardein, Be­yond Meat, ve­gan chicken nuggets - which started it all - and it’s [ all] so good. Have you tried the Be­yond Meat sausage?

G: OMG! We love it! My dad can se­ri­ously have it for break­fast, lunch and din­ner. You’ll al­ways find Be­yond Meat sausage in our fridge.

RV: We haven’t, it’s like the holy grail at our lo­cal gro­cery store, it’s al­ways out of stock. I’m go­ing to have to track it down!

RV: You’re mak­ing me hun­gry now! It seems like now, more than ever, a huge num­ber of peo­ple are choos­ing a ve­gan life­style. What do you think the fu­ture of ve­g­an­ism looks like?

G: Yeah, I think more peo­ple will be ve­gan [ in the fu­ture], and I think peo­ple kinda have to go ve­gan be­cause if they don’t change the way they eat, by 2036 we won’t re­ally have a planet to live on. Peo­ple need to take it more se­ri­ously, ei­ther you go ve­gan, or we don’t have a planet in the next few years. What I would say is, give it a try! If you want to go ve­gan for the an­i­mals, it’s sim­ple, you’re not eat­ing an an­i­mal, so you’re not pay­ing some­one to kill [ an an­i­mal], so you are sav­ing them, even if you’re just one per­son. The same as when I first be­came ve­gan, it was just me at home be­ing a kid and I was just so pas­sion­ate about it that I didn’t want to go back, so it is pos­si­ble, and it just de­pends on how you view it.

RV: We keep see­ing peo­ple who in­sist be­ing ve­gan is just the cool thing to do right now and that it will even­tu­ally pass. Of course, we know that it’s for the an­i­mals, not just a way to be hip. Do you think ve­g­an­ism is here to stay?

G: I do think that ve­g­an­ism is a trend, but I think it’s great be­cause kids think go­ing ve­gan is cool now, so what­ever helps peo­ple go ve­gan works for me. What­ever it takes to spread ve­g­an­ism and save the planet, then go ahead, and those kids who are pas­sion­ate about ve­g­an­ism, they will spread the word and teach other peo­ple why and how easy it is. They’ll take food to par­ties and more peo­ple can try it, let­ting ev­ery­one know they’re not alone, and do­ing it for the an­i­mals and the planet.

RV: Ge­n­e­sis, I have to say, talk­ing to you has been such an in­spi­ra­tion, I feel em­pow­ered and re­freshed! I can­not wait to see what the world has in store for you. Your ef­forts to save not only the an­i­mals, but also the planet, do not go un­no­ticed. As we’re com­ing to a close, our last ques­tion is, who in­spires the in­spired? Who would you love to meet?

G: I’d like to meet Ari­ana Grande, she’s al­ways post­ing her ve­gan food on In­sta­gram and tag­ging the ve­g­ans of In­sta­gram so I think that’s pretty cool and I would def­i­nitely love to meet her. I also think it’s cool that more celebri­ties are talk­ing about ve­g­an­ism.

RV: Thank you, Ge­n­e­sis, for tak­ing the time to sit down and chat with us about all of the ex­cit­ing things you have ac­com­plished so far. Your ded­i­ca­tion and pas­sion are truly in­spir­ing.

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