Here at peta2, we do our very best to inspire young people to speak up for animals, but to be honest, it’s usually the other way around! Every day, we talk to hundreds of inspiring and compassionate people who aren’t afraid to speak out against what they know is wrong.
One of those inspiring people is Betsy Orozco. Betsy is a Los Angeles high school student who volunteered with peta2 this past semester as part of a school project. Keep on reading to see why Betsy is one of our heroes!
What inspired you to help animals and volunteer with peta2 for the semester?
I wanted to work in something related to animal rights because animals are just like us when it comes to the things that matter, like wanting to live and be happy. They get bullied by humans, and they need someone to speak up for them. I wanted to be that someone.
You started your own anti-bullying group at school. What motivated you to do that?
I got bullied from sixth grade all the way up to eighth grade. They would make fun of the way I talked and what I believed in. I decided that enough was enough and talked to my counselor. She told me that what they were saying didn’t matter. None of the things that those people were saying was true, so why let their words bother me? She was right! I wanted to make sure that no other students were ever victims of bullying again, so I started my own anti-bullying group to let people know that they are not alone.
Speaking up not only for you but also for others can be hard. How do you find the courage to do that?
When I was being bullied, no one spoke up for me. I want to make sure that it didn’t happen to anyone else. People are naturally kind; they just need to be informed to take action. That’s why I share my story. I believe that when people hear how bullying truly affects people, they change their mind. And if they’re bullies themselves, they might even stop! Same goes with animal rights—people will start caring once they hear the truth, so don’t give up.
What did you learn at peta2?
I learned so much about the ways in which animals are tortured and killed for the meat industry. It was also during my time here that I decided to take a stand and go vegan. I learned that compassion should be spread to all living beings, not just those who look like us. I set up an animal rights stand at my school’s library—I have to restock it almost every day because people are loving the leaflets and stickers!
Some people think that it’s hard to be vegan in a Hispanic family. What do you say to them?
It’s SO easy! At first, my dad wasn’t super on board, but he started to support me once he learned about how healthy being vegan can be. I also went to my local Hispanic foods market, and they had a lot of options, like soy milk, tofu, and even vegan chorizo. Restaurants like Subway and Taco Bell also have a lot of vegan options, making it easy to help animals even if you’re on a budget.
What’s your fave vegan food?
Buffalo-style cauliflower from this place in front of the peta2 office. SO GOOD.
What would you say to kids who are being bullied or going through a rough patch right now?
It might seem hard right now, but things do get better. Talk to someone—a parent, teacher, friend, or classmate. And remember that no matter what they say, you are still incredible.