We Want YOU for the Vegan Challenge
Second Year, Masters of Divinity
Interviewed by Tyler Mason
Recently Andrews students have been participating in the Vegan Challenge. Could you tell us about your experience with it?
I’ve been on the vegan challenge it seems like everyone’s been doing. It all started from the popular film documentary What the Health. They advocate a two week challenge for going vegan. They had a group of people in the film who had many health problems and they put them through a two week plant based vegan diet. After the two weeks, the group improved significantly and started feeling amazing. One person could barely walk and after the diet the person could walk a little bit better. It was pretty dope because I found out that after 30 days of going vegan, I lost about 12 pounds of fat and I gained about 8 pounds of pure muscle.
Is it more expensive converting to a plant based diet?
It’s funny because you’ll hear that all the time. In reality, I saved so much money because meat is really expensive. I was spending at least $80 on meat per week because I was eating so much meat in order to receive protein. The plant based diet was actually way cheaper. I’d spend about $40-50 a week compared to $80 just on meat.
I’m actually thinking about going vegan and I know a lot of other students are considering it too. But it’s so hard to think about life without dairy and meat.
In the beginning it seems hard. The first step of anything is always hard. But I’m telling you that it’s worth it, especially being here at Andrews because the cafeteria has so many good options. After about a week and a half, your taste buds completely change. For me, it’s been about a month and three weeks since going vegan. Last week, I accidentally ate cheese and I knew right away that something was wrong. I’ve actually gotten to the point where cheese has gotten kind of nasty to me now. But you always need to balance because you don’t want to be an unhealthy vegan. So it’s never a good idea to replace junk with junk. Many substitutes can be junk.
Did you go from vegetarian to vegan or did you go straight to vegan?
I was a meat eater all my life. I’m Hispanic so we love our meats. When I came to Andrews, I decided to try being a vegetarian. So I was a vegetarian for about four years. Then I became frustrated because I wanted to see more results in the gym. So I decided maybe I needed to go all the way with this workout plan I found. I followed the nutrition perfectly but it was crazy amounts of meat. I did that for this entire summer. From straight vegetarian to straight meat eater which is crazy. So when I saw the film, I cut the plan off completely and went straight to being vegan. It sucked in the beginning because I spent a significant amount of money on all the meat I was supposed to eat. But I had to throw everything away because I knew it would tempt me too much.
For anyone who wants to be vegan or is trying to be vegan, what motivated you to stay consistent with it?
I’d give three pieces of advice:
Have a Plan—Doing research is very important. Understanding where to get your protein, carbs and healthy fats through a plant based diet is vital. Also, figuring out your goal is very important. Different types of goals include losing weight, gaining muscle or even just maintaining.
Having Support—Find people around who are vegan. I am lucky enough to have friends who are vegan so I could go and ask them for help. Avoiding the naysayers is important as well. There will be people who say you’re going to become too skinny or you’ll even die. My own mother said I was going to die on a vegan diet. So it’s really important to block the negative opinions out and magnify the voices of the people who are supporting you.
Figuring out your motivation—Figure out why you’re doing it. People have different reasons. Mine was health reasons. I wanted to see if I could do it. I wanted to challenge myself. Some people don’t like what’s happening to the animals. The meat industry treats their animals worse than slaves. So at the end of the day, you have to figure out your motivation because that’s the thing that will drive you. It is definitely going to get hard. I had dreams of walking through fields of pizza! I woke up craving it so bad. We are addicted to this stuff, especially dairy. But going forward with these three pieces of advice, you’ll succeed in anything in life.