Meet the young vegan activist who is changing the world
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.