Amateur Comedian Liz Mai Talks Veganism, Activism, and Mental Health

Name: Liz Mai

Year: Senior

Major: Social Work

Hometown: Jacksonville, FL

Courtesy: Liz Mai

Her Campus (HC): Tell me about some things you're involved with at Florida State or in Tallahassee.

Liz Mai (LM): I’m a member of RENEW, which is an organization affiliated with the University Counseling Center that promotes emotional wellness among the student body. I’m also a staff writer for The Eggplant. Around town, I volunteer with Second Harvest and stimulate the local economy by eating out way too much.

HC: What's it like writing for The Eggplant

LM: Intimidating…rewarding, fun and various synonyms of the word “awesome.” The people on staff are some of the funniest people I’ve ever met and everyone comes in with their own perspective. I’ve never really been pushed to be funnier until becoming a staff writer, so having an editor say “make this a better joke” and having other writers contribute to my creation has been scary and amazing. Also, hearing people say “that Eggplant article was so good” is amazing. Hearing people complain about The Eggplant being “controversial” is also amazing. This publication is not a joke machine. We are a satirical publication; we expose and criticize topical issues and vices. We do it in a humorous way. Get you a publication that can do both.

Courtesy: Liz Mai

HC: I know that you recently decided to go vegan. What made you decide to do so?

LM: Veganism for me is a form of environmental activism. Eating animals is super inefficient in terms of energy transfer. Factory farming require ridiculous amounts of water and accounts for 37% of methane emissions. As a citizen in a first world country, I know that my carbon footprint is going to be massive, so this is part of reducing what I can.

HC: As someone who loves to cook was this transition hard or do you like the challenge?

LM: Honestly, despite my passion for cooking, I’m super content with eating canned beans and frozen vegetables so the transition didn’t really affect my (lack) of cooking. When I actually do cook, nothing has really changed; I’ve always been experimental in the kitchen so I still just throw things into a pan and hope for the best.

HC: Do you have any tips for college students who want to go vegan without breaking bank/starving/only eating junk food?

LM: Frozen veggies. That goes for every college kid. You don’t have to be vegan to care about your micronutrient intake and avoiding scurvy, okay? Eat soy products. Cook large amounts of base foods like rice, pasta, quinoa. For meat alternatives, vegan ground beef is your best bang for your buck.

HC: You really value both physical and mental health. How do you balance self-care and being a successful student?

LM: I think 85% of the battle is being cognizant of your mental and emotional health and needs. You have to ask yourself: what am I feeling or thinking in this moment, and what can I do for it right now? Your mental health should be as much of a priority as your physical state. When you think of “balance,” don’t think of a scale where you can put everything on one side at once, and then even it out on the other scale later. It should be like standing on a balance board, constantly moving and shifting your weight based on where the board is going. Understand that sometimes self-care doesn’t look like a reward. Sometimes, self-care is picking up the clothes on your ground and putting away laundry because chaotic spaces make you nervous. Sometimes it looks like letting yourself cry. An important part of my self-care that I’m still working on is reaching out when I need help. Also, go to class. That’s 99% of how I get good grades. Seriously.

HC: Tell me a bit about your major and why you chose it.

LM: I kind of just fell into it. I was a dietetics major for most of my college career. I took a few social work classes to get a feel for what counseling was like because I had this grand idea of working with the low-income families of children with diabetes with a holistic approach. One of my dietetics courses…made me realize that policy wasn’t currently in place for my populations of interest to even have access to the clinical services that I was working towards. My social work professors mentioned…that I could work on policy with an MSW, and that’s when I knew I had to change my major.

HC: What advice do you have for FSU students who want to get involved with activism?

LM: Understand the different faces that activism takes. Yes, a lot of it is marches and rallies to show that injustices are not going to be taken lying down. It’s also volunteering, donating money, calling representatives and educating yourself and others to be an uplifting force to the oppressed peoples, validating the feelings and experiences of oppressed populations and calling people out. You get the point. Find what you can do. Don’t be silent. Don’t be complacent.