When I was younger, I ate what most would consider the average American diet. My favorite meal was crispy chicken tenders with ranch, and I genuinely thought that grilled meat was a healthy food choice. At the time, I didn’t know about all the harm I was doing to my body on a daily basis through my food choices. I just knew that I wasn’t happy with my weight and physical appearance.
Nearly my entire childhood, I was obese. I would use online BMI calculators, and they always classified me as overweight or obese. My doctors would regularly recommend more exercise, though I was active in swimming, dance, cheerleading, and volleyball. I didn’t understand why I was always so hungry, tired, and unhappy.
One day when I was in the fifth grade, I was doing my usual YouTube surfing- watching funny cat videos, popular vloggers, and makeup tutorials. On this particular day, I remember running across a video called “Meet Your Meat”. This was a very graphic video that displayed all of the horrendous ways that animals are abused, tortured, and killed in the production of meat. I distinctly remember that my dog, Darwin, was sitting at my feet sleeping while I was watching a video of pigs, cows, and chickens being slaughtered.
Something in my mind shifted. I realized how there is hardly a difference between dogs and pigs, yet the way we treat them is unparalleled. I was baffled by the fact that I was contributing to animal suffering a death, simply by what food I ate. I immediately decided to go vegetarian. I was vegetarian for about 4 years, until I became even more disconnected from my food and started eating meat again.
During the 3 years of high school and two years of college that I ate meat and dairy, I continued to struggle with my weight, energy levels, and self imagine. My weight fluctuated and I couldn’t get a grip on a healthy and consistent lifestyle. Even when I was at my thinnest, I wasn’t happy with my body because I didn’t feel healthy.
My salads were slathered in ranch and cheese, and when I became passionate about fitness and lifting, I ate meals consisting of ground turkey and eggs. The high levels of cholesterol and low complex carbohydrates led me to feeling lethargic and heavy, even when I was fit. I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that I still was not eating what my body was craving. I wasn’t consuming a well-rounded diet full of fruits and vegetables.
During my junior year of college, both of my parents went vegan for health-purposes. They both had struggled with diabetes for a long time, and their doctor recommended a plant-based diet to help reverse some of the symptoms. Over the first month, I noticed all of the delicious vegans foods my parents were preparing, the higher energy and happiness levels they were experiencing, as well as their weight-loss. Maybe this was something I should try out?
Over my entire life until this point, I had struggled with Binge Eating Disorder. I went to psychiatrists and therapists trying to get a grip on my “emotional eating,” but nothing they said or did affected my unhealthy relationship with food. Being my YouTube obsessed self, I decided to look up other people and their experiences with binge eating.
One of the first videos I ran across suggested raw veganism. This peaked my interest, and so I researched veganism for the rest of the evening. I saw people who lost hundred of pounds going vegan. I saw animals being saved and getting to live full, happy lives. I saw areas of our planet’s ecosystems recovering from the damage of the meat industry. The very next day, April 20th, 2016, I went vegan. For life.
For health purposes. For environmental protection. For the innocent animals. For public health. I went vegan to save the world, and all it took was a little inspiration and education on the topic.