Most of us grew up eating two, if not three, meals with meat in them every day. We had a glass of milk with every meal. We asked for ice cream and chocolate as goodies. We are absolutely conditioned — whether it's good or bad, it is conditioning.

In the past three-plus years, I have had plenty of days where I ate vegetarian. I have always been rather flexible with my diet. However, I have adopted it as the norm over the past couple weeks and I feel much different — and probably not for the reason you're thinking.

I claim to live a "freegan" lifestyle (see the 8 different kinds of vegans here). For the most part, this is true, but I've been living a farce recently. I must come clean.

I have recently paid for:

1. California Pizza Kitchen's pesto penne

2. Halo Top ice cream

3. Flamin' Hot Cheetos

4. Yia Yia Nikki's roasted veggie pita (with tzatziki sauce)

5. Spicy mayo for my avocado roll

6. A milkshake

All that dairy will mess a girl up when she doesn't eat it regularly. I never understood when my gluten intolerant friends would just disregard their stomach problems for some grains, but all of a sudden I'm wrapped up in that same mindset. The mindset that taste is more important than my body.

I really do feel more lethargic when I allow dairy to become more prominent in my life. I've taken more naps since allowing extra "cheats," and I've worked out less. It's funny how some bad habits spiral others out of control.

I'm uncomfortable voting with my dollar for these products. I understand that there are good ways to find/buy eggs and dairy, but I don't have those connections. Not to mention, my cheats aren't exactly coming from the farmer's market. These are some guilty pleasures.

On that note, I have always been the type to be flexible about my diet — as I mentioned before. I understand that the consumption of meat is never going away. Okay, at least not in our lifetime (we can dream big though!).

I decided nearly four years ago that my m.o. to live as environmentally friendly as possible needed to include my diet.

I slowly cut out red meat, chicken, and poultry, then seafood, and then I went full on vegan. It really has been the most amazing decision and I've been transparent through the process and about any struggles. Portland, Oregon offers very little struggles though.

I tell everyone they should do it slowly and with purpose. It needs to be a lifestyle, rather than a diet. It takes work — much like any other healthy habit we attempt to include in our daily lives.

What matters is having the best of intentions, and always hopping back on the wagon after slipping off. I am reminded of how human I am during this process. I am so grateful for my awareness.

So I continue on as a vegan.