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When you really believe in something, it shows in what you do, not just in what you say.

I’ve loved animals since I was a little girl. From zoo keeper, to animal breeder, to veterinarian, I’ve always wanted to work with animals in some way. After two trips to Australia, I’ve decided that I want to become a marsupial expert and conservationist. When I was 12, I realized that if I loved animals so much, I shouldn’t be eating them. I needed to be true to myself, so I became a vegetarian. I never wanted to push my beliefs on other people but I do want to inspire others to care about animals and consider a vegetarian diet. When I was 14, I wrote a vegetarian cookbook, called Veggie Teens: A Cookbook and Guide for Vegetarian Teenagers.

No one else in my family is a vegetarian but they have all been supportive of my decision—and I really appreciate that. I’ve seen how important it is to respect one another’s opinions, even when you don’t totally agree. My mom, a family physician, and my dad, a professional chef, both worked with me on Veggie Teens. As a team, we were able to create a great resource for other families. In addition to hundreds of vegetarian and vegan recipes with variations and photos, we each contributed in our own way, including Health Notes, Chef’s Notes, and Teen’s Tips.

You’d be surprised by what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it. To write Veggie Teens, I learned to create recipes, photograph food, write and format a book, teach others how to cook, and manage my website and blog. By taking it one small step at a time, I have been able to do much more than I ever thought I could.

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Elyse is the author of Veggie Teens: A Cookbook and Guide for Vegetarian Teenagers. Elyse became a vegetarian when she was 12 years old. She'd always been an animal lover but seeing pictures of dozens of pigs crammed into a small pen was the final straw.

According to Elyse, it isn't always easy to be a vegetarian in high school--but it's worth it. Many of her friends are curious; some have even decided to become vegetarians too. She loves great food and she enjoys cooking for her family. She is a lacto-ovo-vegetarian and feels healthy and happy knowing that no animals lost their lives to feed her.

In addition to her passion for cooking, eating, and animals, Elyse plays the piccolo for the award- winning high school Thunder Marching Band. She also plays the flute and the didgeridoo, an Australian wind instrument.

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