New Voices: Vegetarians and Veterinarians

I want to be a veterinarian. No, I didn’t say vegetarian, I said veterinarian. Two very different things. It’s okay. I know a lot of people who used to get the two confused.

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A vet’s job, you’ll be surprised to hear, has almost no contact with animals that are, well, awake. A vet’s job is get in, do surgery, get out. There are also vets that do vet check-ups, that part’s true. But those who have more contact with animals on a daily basis, who care for and feed the animals after surgery and administer vaccines is not the vet, but a vet tech. That’s kind of like a nurse for animals. Yet I still want to be a vet.

About a year and a half ago, I finally was allowed to volunteer with animals, something which I’d been looking forward to since I was a young child. And from then on, my interest in becoming a veterinarian just grew and grew. I’ve made vaccines, watched them be administered, measured worm medication, bagged pills, administered heartworm medication, and, of course, done what every good dog owner has done: flea and tick medication. I’ve also shown educational presentations, advised dog and cat owners, and this summer I’m interviewing to be a camp counselor at my local Humane Society.

But these aren’t even half preparing me for what I want to do when I’m older. Euthanasia just comes with the job—there’s no escaping that. It’s hard to do, but it’s used because it’s for the good of the animal. And even the best vet can’t always save every animal. There will always be some that will be beyond help. And although I love animals, I’m still not a vegetarian, like some of the people I volunteer with (vegetarian, not veterinarian).

I’m trying to do the best job I can in educating myself about the things involved in my intended future profession. But who knows? I may not end up as a veterinarian at all, or even a vet tech.

On the other hand, I already know I’ll never end up as a doctor.

If I tell a person I want to be a vet, their instant reaction will be, “Well, why don’t you want to be a doctor instead? It’s a better profession.”

What irks me about this statement is not that it questions my interest in my intended profession (well, that does annoy me, but it’s not the climax of it), but that it tells me that a veterinarian is not a good profession to choose.

I understand that being a doctor makes more money, but if I wanted to make more money, I’d go into a less heartbreaking field. Trust me, I would. I’m good with computers, my writing skills really aren’t that bad, and I’ve got the grades and course list to get into nearly any field.

So when I say I want to be a veterinarian, it’s because I love animals, and I want to work to help do something good for them—I want to help save their lives, each and every one of them.

I recently had to say good-bye to some volunteers I’d worked with, because they were going off to college. We’d all worked with animals, but some of them were majoring in business, science, or just didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives. They didn’t confine themselves to the realm of animal-based jobs just because they loved animals. They did something more. They did what they loved. And that wasn’t necessarily related to animals.

So here’s my word of advice for you: do what you love, not what makes you the most money. Sometimes, you want to be a veterinarian, but you don’t want to be a vegetarian. And I may not have had a real career yet, but I’ve seen others reap the rewards of being happy in the profession they chose, and they are so much happier than those who just work for the money.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Guest Post | When I Grow Up | Books and Bark

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