Above photograph via Genesis Butler
At just 14 years of age, vegan teenage activist Genesis Butler has done more for animals than some have accomplished in a lifetime.
The animal rights advocate stopped eating meat when she was three-years-old after learning where the chicken nuggets on her plate came from. Three years later, after discovering the milk she was drinking came from mother cows, she went vegan. She subsequently helped her entire family transition to a plant-based diet.
Since becoming a vegan, Butler’s spent a *lot* of time speaking up for animals. Four years ago, she became the youngest TEDx Talk speaker. Her talk—entitled “A 10-year old’s vision for healing the planet”—covered the many benefits of eating a vegan diet. It also delved into the environmental impacts of eating animals.
Butler is now using her platform and voice to help advance animal protection laws. This year, she joined Social Compassion in Legislation’s (SCIL) board of directors. The legislative animal advocacy group works to create and change laws that advocate for the rights, welfare, and protection of non-human animals.
“At a very young age, I realized that each animal was a unique individual and that I wanted to do everything I could to help them,” Butler said in a press release. “I’m excited to motivate my fan base to help further Social Compassion in Legislation’s mission, which is at the core the same as mine: to save every animal.”
But maybe standing up for the rights of others runs in her blood. Butler is the great-grandniece of Cesar Chavez—a Latino American civil rights activist. The farm labor leader was also an animal advocate. “Chavez went vegan after making the connection [to animals] and knowing that when you fight against injustice that it should be for all species,” Butler wrote on Instagram.
She often credits her great-granduncle’s work and compassionate nature for inspiring her to speak up for human and non-human animals. “Civil rights activists like my uncle Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks, and Angela Davis all stopped eating animals because they saw a connection between civil rights and animal rights,” Butler told LIVEKINDLY via email.
Genesis Butler: A Hero for Animals
The teenage activist will celebrate her eight-year “veganniversary” on February 27th.
Over the last eight years, Butler has accomplished much for animals. In addition to attending protests and speaking at animal rights events, Butler has founded her own animal rights profit. In 2018, she took to social media to announce the launch of her foundation. “I’m proud to announce my nonprofit Genesis for Animals is now ready to start helping sanctuaries who save the lives of animals,” she wrote on Instagram. The organization works to raise money for animal sanctuaries around the world.
In 2019, Butler became a real-life Marvel hero. Marvel Studios featured the vegan activist in its documentary series, “Marvel Hero Project.” The unscripted series, which shares the positive impacts of youth activists, also included Butler as the star in her very own comic book.
Butler has guest appeared on numerous podcasts. This year alone, she’s been a guest on Dr. Jane Goodall’s podcast, Hopecast. She also appeared on The Chickpeeps, a plant-based podcast hosted by vegan actor Evanna Lynch.
Her animal advocacy work hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2019, animal rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) named Butler its Young Animal Activist of the Year for “being an outspoken animal rights proponent and inspiring countless people to go vegan.” Her accolades don’t end there. She’s also received Animal Hero Kids-Sir Paul McCartney Young Veg Advocate and the Lisa Shapiro Youth Activist award, among others.
Butler says she hopes to one day become a veterinarian so that she can help the animals in her sanctuary. “My long term goal is to get as many people to go vegan as possible,” she said. “Not only do the animals need us to go vegan but Mother Earth also needs as many people to go vegan as possible because animal agriculture is destroying our planet at a rapid rate.”
10 Genesis Butler Quotes That Prove She’s a Hero for Animals
Looking for more inspiring words of wisdom by the teenage activist? Here are 10 other times the vegan advocate has used her voice to speak up for animals.
1 | Helping the planet thrive
“What better time to commit to going vegan than the start of 2021! Last year we really got to see why it’s important now more than ever to go vegan. From a global pandemic caused by eating animals to an increase in natural disasters due to climate change and caused partly because of animal agriculture we saw how eating animals is threatening our ability to thrive on this planet.
People may think going vegan won’t help but according to an Oxford study going vegan is the single biggest way a person can lower their carbon footprint,” she captioned via Instagram.
2 | Eating animals causes climate change
“According to many scientific studies, raising animals for food is the primary cause of global climate change, loss of biodiversity, pollution, and water shortage, just to name a few,” Butler said during her 2017 TEDx talk.
3 | Being kind to all kinds
“Some people think extending kindness to all species is a weakness but it’s actually a superpower so don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad or crazy for having empathy for animals. I know people have tried to do that to me but it just makes me stronger and want to speak up for animals even more,” she said via Instagram.
4 | The importance of veganism
“COVID, it really impacted my activism. Normally, we go out to protests, so we have to get out and get active. But we can’t do that anymore. More viruses are just going to start coming if we do not switch to a plant-based diet. So we’ve been talking about the importance of veganism because we want a thriving planet to live on,” Jane Goodall podcast, 2021.
5 | ‘Animals feel love and happiness’
“I kept feeling a pain in my heart when I ate animals and my mom thought it was heartburn but the doctor said nothing was wrong with me. When I learned I was eating animals I knew that’s where my pain was coming from. Animals feel pain just like we do just as they feel love and happiness, just like us,” the teenage activist wrote on Instagram.
6 | Inspired by other teenage activists
“Youth can make such a big difference. And I realize that because when I first became an activist, I was super young. Now that I’m older, you can really see how youth voices are really needed right now. If you see someone younger than you and they’re vegan and they’re making a difference, and they’re so passionate about it, it makes you inspired,” she said on The Chickpeeps podcast.
7 | Veganism is more than just an animal rights issue
“We will never fight climate change without diet change. The exploitation of animals for food isn’t just an animal rights issue, it’s a climate issue, it’s an environmental racism issue, it’s a social justice issue, and it’s a human rights issue,” she wrote on Instagram.
8 | Eating vegan is easy
“When I first told my mom I wanted to go vegan she said she wasn’t sure because she didn’t think she’d be able to eat any of the traditional Mexican dishes she grew up eating. I told her she could probably make them vegan so she looked up recipes and found out she can! We can still eat traditional meals and not miss out on anything,” she wrote on Instagram.
9 | ‘Human and civil rights are connected’
“Human and civil rights are connected to animal rights for many reasons. One reason is the majority of slaughterhouses are in low-income communities, so they pollute the environment of the people who live there. Also, indigenous people who live in the rainforest are losing their homes because companies use the land to graze and raise cattle for food,” she told LIVEKINDLY, 2021.
10 | Saving animals and the planet
“Not eating animal products will not only save animals, but it will help stop much of the damage we have done to the earth. According to many scientific studies, raising animals for food is the primary cause of global climate change, loss of biodiversity, pollution, and water shortage, just to name a few,” the teenage activist said during her TEDx Talk.
Written by Audrey Enjoli
STAFF WRITER | LOS ANGELES, CA