My Journey to Becoming Vegan

What does it mean to be vegan? As a vegan, my diet does not include any animal product — red meat, white meat, seafood — or by-product — eggs, dairy, or honey. A vegan also tries to live a “cruelty-free lifestyle” in which their dietary restrictions overflow into their everyday life products, such as where they shop for clothing, makeup, or house products. Therefore, with a cruelty-free lifestyle, a person is conscious where their everyday items come from and how they are made.

It was early May of my freshman year of college when a few friends and I were in the dining hall for dinner when I decided to go vegan. I think the exact reason I decided to try a vegan lifestyle was because it seemed like a challenge people didn’t think I could do. I remember telling my parents and they both thought I was absurd and that it wouldn’t last. What they seemed to have forgotten was that I have been vegetarian since I turned 10 — my willpower was not something to question.

Credit: familydoctor.org

So there I was, finishing my freshman year of college as a vegan. I’m pretty sure I shocked my friends and family — “but... why” everyone would ask with a furrowed brow and judgemental eye squint. To be honest, I never had a great answer to that question. “Well, I just wanted to try it? It’s better for the environment? I feel better?” I could never come up with an answer that wasn’t full of a questioning tone. No one likes the vegan who shoves their ways of life onto other people... right?

Well, halfway through the summer my friends and family were still joking with me about being vegan, asking how long it would last and if I planned on creating a “save-the-world” agenda. I can handle the jokes, for sure. That was never the problem. But it did seem as if everyone was making my decision about them. They couldn’t ask me to go to dinner because I “couldn’t eat anything” or I was “judging their choices of food.”

In actuality, my decision of being vegan has absolutely nothing to do with one except me. I wanted to try something new and I wanted to be proactive in living a healthier lifestyle that affects me and the world. I didn’t go vegan to annoy anyone or make it hard to go out to eat — which is actually fairly easy — I went vegan for myself.

I will say, I have felt immensely better, physically and mentally. Since I was already a vegetarian, when I turned vegan, all I was doing was giving up animal bi-products, specifically dairy. My skin is clear, and I feel more energetic, and I never feel sickly full. I think the best thing to come out of going vegan has been how much more conscious I have become surrounding my everyday choices of what and where to eat.

The toughest transition of becoming vegan has been coming to the realization that if I’m going to be vegan for health reasons, then I shouldn’t seek out all the junk food that is vegan — like Oreos, which are indeed vegan. Also, a tough transition was giving up pizza. I’m originally from Long Island, New York, home to some of the best pizza in the country, so not being able to enjoy pizza with my friends has been a tough obstacle.

Going vegan has helped me open my eyes to new experiences around Boston such as food festivals and farmer’s markets. For me, being vegan also entails shopping local and trying new foods that I never would’ve tried otherwise.

A big concern people seem to have is they can’t seem to imagine how I could possibly be happy as a vegan with such limitation. But, in fact, I have never been happier! I barely recognize the limitations of being vegan anymore and I’ve gotten into always looking for new places to try with vegan options. I promised my dad that the second I was unhappy with being vegan, I would stop, but I don’t see that happening in the near future.

 

Going vegan has helped me live a healthier cruelty-free lifestyle and I plan on continuing this lifestyle for a while, as well as hope to give people a better understanding as to why being vegan is not this crazy idea everyone thinks it is.

 

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