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The Exploration Of My Plant-Based Journey

If you told me a year ago that I could go six months without eating red meat, I would have never believed you. I come from a Colombian family that loves meat and I grew up devouring ribs, steak, and cheeseburgers without a care in the world. 

It wasn’t until I took an environmental science class in my second semester at FIT where my teacher pointed out the devastating impact that animal agriculture has on the environment. I learned that animal agriculture is the second-largest contributor to human-made greenhouse gas emissions after fossil fuels, and is a leading cause of deforestation, water and air pollution, and biodiversity loss. I also started to think about the life that’s behind the package that I take every time I eat meat. I realized I couldn’t call myself an environmentalist and animal lover and continue to eat meat. When I learned that researchers at the University of Oxford found that not eating meat and dairy products can reduce a person’s carbon footprint by up to 73%, I had to try it out. I started off by cutting out only red meat (pork, beef, and lamb) from my diet and see how long I could do it for.

Naturally, I went to Pinterest and searched for plant-based recipes. I discovered so many different and delicious alternatives that I could have. I found myself eating many more fruits and vegetables than ever before. Even though I allow myself to eat fish and chicken on occasion, I wanted to try new protein sources like quinoa, chickpeas, and tempeh to make some of my meals completely vegan. I learned that when prepared correctly, these bland protein sources could become something flavorful and satisfying. The easiest switch for me was cows milk to oat milk or almond milk. I found these plant-based milks to be more refreshing and contain much less fat than dairy milk. There is even Ben and Jerry’s ice cream made with plant-based milk that is delicious! Unfortunately, I wasn’t so lucky when it came to cheese alternatives. I decided to continue to eat cheese on occasion because I want to be flexible at this point in my plant-based journey and hopefully one day I can give it up. I decided that being too hard on myself would make me want to quit altogether. 

After a few weeks, I noticed I had more energy and felt better about what I was eating. I was eating healthier and being more mindful of what I put in my body. I had plenty of energy to exercise and felt even more motivated to take care of my body. After a few months, friends and family noticed that I had slimmed down, but still had a healthy glow. I would tell them it’s not a diet, but a journey because diets are often short term and only done for weight loss. Giving up red meat was an ethical and environmental choice that I made and is now a part of my lifestyle. 

Of course along this journey I have had my hardships and moments where I want to give up. I see my friends and family eating meat all around me and I wonder, Am I really making a difference?. But then I meet other people who are completely vegan or vegetarian and I am inspired by them to keep going.

I hope that my story has inspired you to either start or keep going on your meatless or plant-based journey!

 

Hi I'm Ava! I am from Long Island,NY. I am a Communications Design major at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I Love design, fashion, beauty, and sustainability. I am an aspiring vegan and love to eat healthy and discover new workouts.
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