I'm the type of person that when I don't know how to do something, or if I need advice, I look to the internet. The problem is any article that could give me any type of advice doesn't apply to my situation. I am a freshman at the University of Oklahoma, living in a dorm with only a mini-fridge, microwave, and meal swipes. When I'm looking for life advice on how to be healthier or happier, I'm not able to adapt that kind of lifestyle. WELL, somebody has to be the first at everything, right?
I've wanted to change my life for a while, but I always made excuses, claiming that I wasn't in the right living or financial situation to do so. I often preach on Facebook on how we're our own worst enemies and I guess it's time to start listening to my own advice. I was a vegetarian for a little while in high school, but I'm allergic to nuts and hate mushrooms and beans. Without my body getting enough protein, my health absolutely plummeted, so therefor ended my vegetarianism.
A few months ago I switched my diet to pescatarian, which is where the only meat I ate was seafood. I have a lot of personal opinions when it comes to animal rights, climate change and leading a healthy lifestyle as to why I make the decisions about how I live. The main reason for becoming a pescatarian was because the problem I ran into with being a vegetarian was lack of protein. With this diet, I was still acting on my beliefs but also giving my body the nutrients it needs.
A few weeks ago, I had a really insightful conversation with my English professor that inspired me to take things to a new level. I made the decision to go vegan, (with the exception of seafood), but I wasn't just going to change my diet, I was going to change EVERYTHING.
It's not easy adapting a vegan lifestyle, there's a lot of research a person has to do. I researched vegan options at all of my favorite restaurants and where I can find selective food on campus that I can buy with my meal plan. Does it limit my options and require me to walk farther than I want to? Yes. But it's worth it. Then, I researched every single product that I use. I can't even begin to describe how disappointed I was with myself when I discovered every company I have been buying from tests on animals. I found myself having to replace every product in my life, from body wash and shampoo to every product in my makeup bag. I found lists of certified vegan and cruelty-free brands, most of which are verified by Leaping Bunny. At first, I thought to look to PETA, but it turns out that Leaping Bunny does deeper research into products and whether or not a company tests on animals. Also, PETA may consider a company cruelty-free, or a company can "claim" that they're cruelty-free, but if a company produces or sells in China, they're required by Chinese law to test on animals. This is something that Leaping Bunny ensures, as well as looking at if a company that claims the status is owned by a parent company that doesn't.
These were all things I had never researched or considered before. The process to replace all these products with those that meet these standards is going to take a while, only because if I throw out my current products, I'll be going against my values on environmental preservation and waste management. But, as I begin to find new products that fit this lifestyle I have found resources such as a list and search engine from My Beauty Bunny and a free app created by Leaping Bunny where you can search for any cruelty-free certified product.
At first, I was a little anxious to start calling myself a vegan, in social media and today's culture, if you're not a vegan in L.A., you're going to be mocked. But again, I need to take my own advice. I'm proud I've made this life change, it is based on everything I believe in and I've noticed so many different improvements in my health and mood. I'm allergic to a lot of foods, specifically, a protein called casein, which is found in all products coming from cows and other livestock. At first cutting out red meat made my skin clear up and I found myself not craving snacks or bigger meals. Then cutting out dairy gave me so much more energy in my day, I haven't been nearly as lethargic as I used to be, and I no longer feel bloated all the time. (And of course, my stomach started feeling a lot better since I stopped consuming food my body hated). In the process, I stopped consuming processed sugar and large amounts of sugar in general along with only drinking water, tea, and Spark Energy instead of my typical morning coffee.
Not only does my physical health seem to be improving tremendously, but my mental health has been better too. I've become a lot more focused on work and everyday life and the number of anxiety attacks and depressive episodes I have per week has decreased! I'm really happy with the life that I've been able to make myself at the age of 19. I've been through some dark times these past few months and I finally feel like I know who I am again. I smile and laugh more, I find passion in my work again, and I wake up every day looking forward to what God has in store for me.
This isn't just a dietary change for me, or switching up the products I use, it has been so much more. I have been experiencing a change in my outlook on life and what I'm doing in order to achieve my goals and a vegan lifestyle adapted into that change naturally. To be candid, nobody becomes vegan for the attention or the title, because I have no idea why someone would go through that first week of cravings and withdraws for fun. But since making all of these changes, and seeing the first few benefits, it's one of the best things I've done.
I feel more at one with myself and with God, putting myself first while taking care of my mind and body in the best ways possible. I started running, which I never used to be able to do as an asthmatic, and I find myself feeling free.
If you're a college freshman or someone who feels trapped in the lifestyle you're currently living, or even are just curious about switching things up, it is attainable. It may sound impossible, making major changes while not having a solid living situation, but it is! It just takes work, and that is scary to a lot of people because we ask ourselves "why can't this just be easy?" or "why can't someone just tell me what to do?" Life is already hard, so why should we try harder to make our lives better? It's a question you have to ask yourself if you truly want to change your life or the world around you. If you believe that changing your life, no matter in what aspect or capacity, is worth the fight, then the rewards will truly be worth it.