Our ears are constantly swarmed with information on living a healthy lifestyle and how to eat well. Influenced by the shapely celebrities we idolize on social media or the well-arranged images of fruit bowls on Pinterest, many of us are encouraged to at least consider what we put into our bodies. Alike many seemingly basic girls, I have tried to adopt a vegan diet and lifestyle. What was once a small inkling of interest promoted by pictures and persuasion, budded into a concern for animal rights and a fascination with the health benefits I could be gaining by eliminating the dairy and meat from my diet. My argument today isn’t to convince others to follow my lead, but to shed light on the difficulty of maintaining this lifestyle in a college setting.
Unoriginally, I am another struggling college student whose debt is piling up like the number of papers I’ve written since my first year. Considering this, I’ve noticed the strain a vegan diet has taken on my wallet. Despite spending less on each visit to the grocery store, I have noticed that I frequent the shops to maintain an unspoiled collection of produce in my refrigerator. Granted, I could choose to eat more cost-efficiently with french fries, potato chips or other less perishable, but still vegan, foods. But, if I began this lifestyle change to put better things into my body, I wanted to ensure that I was focusing on nutrient-rich, plant-based foods.
Sourcing out healthy plant-based foods during nearly every meal of the day comes at a cost. The only word better than “cheap” to a college student is, you guessed it: “free.” Clubs and organizations often catch the interest of students with free food. On the day of the Fall Involvement Fair, for example, a large chalkboard sign promoted free Chick-Fil-A sandwiches. Distraught between the temptation of a free lunch that would have been a no-brainer months ago, and my current feelings on eating meat led me to walk away, knowing that I would have to pay for my next meal but wouldn’t be paying for the regrets of cheating my own diet. During Block Party, I walked around the food trucks and club tents, struggling to find any food options that I could purchase. Even at the Highlander newspaper meeting, free pizza.
The generosity of these organizations is captivating and appreciated — not to mention logical considering the interests of most students — but simply demonstrate some of the struggles I’ve faced during my transition into my newfound diet. It seems obvious that I won’t be getting free bananas and salads handed out at these events, but even inside Scotty’s, the vegan options are significantly more expensive and the produce, scarce.
Despite the controversy of veganism, from my personal research I see the benefits of living a life that is more plant-based and less dairy and meat-focused as our American lifestyles have undoubtedly become. Admittedly, most of the research I have found is controversial and everyone has an opinion. Nonetheless, I have come to the conclusion that this lifestyle is a better one than the one I used to live, and the kind that I want to attempt to live by. I want to concentrate on the end game, knowing that eating well has an impact on my life in the long run. I guess the bottom line is that it is hard to care about my life as a whole when I am tempted by all the things in the present.