On July 30, 2014, I decided to become a vegetarian. I made the choice overnight, and I honestly don’t have a specific reason as to why I became a vegetarian. I guess the idea just fascinated me. The next day, I told my mom, dad, and older brother that I changed my diet to a vegetarian diet, and my family simply replied with “that’s great”. Considering my diet change, I guess that I should explain my background story. As a child, I was always “overweight,” and during sixth grade, my doctor diagnosed me as pre-diabetic. I also had other health problems that were symptoms of being a pre-diabetic, and this was a contributing factor to me wanting to transition to vegetarianism.
Within the next few weeks, I went to the bi-annual family reunion in Pennsylvania and suffered my first ‘experience’ as a vegetarian in public. On the my family hosted a barbecue in a nearby park next to the hotel we stayed in. Considering that it was a barbecue setting, all of the food choices were meat, except for snacks.
Many of my family members commented snarky remarks such as “Oh no we have a vegetarian in the family”, “What do you eat?”, etc. Throughout the course of the summer and the remainder of 2014, when I started my freshman year of high school, many students at my previous school were shocked when I told them that I was a vegetarian. I received both positive and negative criticism from my friends by receiving comments such as “I don’t know how you do it”, “I love steak,” or the exception: “That’s cool”.
During the beginning of 2015, I watched a video on Youtube from Essena Oneill about veganism. In the description box under her video, I watched the documentary 101 reasons to go vegan and instantly fell in love with the idea of a plant-based diet. After discovering Essena Oneill, I watched a lot of “What I Eat In Day”, vegan stories, and vegan recipe videos from many other vegan Youtubers.
Next month, I told my parents that I wanted to take a step further and transition to veganism. Expectantly, my parents were skeptical about me being vegan because they were concerned that I wouldn’t get enough nutrients. Initially before, when I went vegetarian, I could never see myself as being vegan any time soon because I thought that it would be too much of a challenge and unrealistic in my household. None of my immediate family members are vegetarian or vegan, besides my dad and brother disliking pork. My aunt is technically pescetarian but does not like to identify as it.
After telling my parents that I wanted to become vegan and them refusing, I sneakily started to cut out common animal products such as milk, eggs, and cheese. After a month of suffering, my parents finally gave in, and they allowed me to buy supplements such as B12, iron, and calcium.
Throughout the following months up until the summer, my parents were still naive as to what a plant-based diet consisted of and still bought me mac and cheese or frozen meals that contained cheese or other animal products in it. The only person in my family that knew what a plant-based diet was my older brother, and he tried to help them, but they were still oblivious. Even to this day, my family doesn’t know what a vegan can or cannot eat, and I still see my family exchange knowing grins and smirks when I deny food with animal products. Sometimes I think that they know that I can’t eat it and they’re purposely offering me food that they know that I won’t eat.
After deciding on becoming vegan in early 2015, it wasn’t until July that I realized some of the products that I was eating weren’t actually vegan. Currently, I have researched foods that happen to be vegan, and I’m further educated in veganism. In a few years, when I graduate from high school, become an adult, and most likely attend college, I expect to have greater freedom in eating exactly what I want as a vegan and obtaining a higher vegan lifestyle.
Living at home, it’s hard to get cruelty free or vegan products other than food. As an adult, I won’t have to worry about if I’m breaking my parent’s bank account and I can make vegan meals without seeing cabinets and a refrigerator/freezer filled with unhealthy processed food and animal products. Lastly, I would not have to be discouraged by family members and peers on a daily basis about my preferences of eating choices and lifestyle.