BYU-Hawaii students said they enjoy being vegan because it boosts their mood and helps them feel healthier. They shared their experiences eating a diet without meat and dairy and what students should know about this lifestyle choice.
Brionna Reynolds, a junior from Ohio majoring in social work, has been a vegan for almost a year. She said, “I wanted to take a stand for animal rights, promote holistic healing and balance my mind, body, and spirit.”
Sui Fan Franky Ho, a senior from Hong Kong majoring in business management has been vegan for the past month and was previously a vegetarian. Ho made this change for her health and said, “I have eczema [and] I feel like my eczema is getting better because of it. Overall I feel I have more energy.”
Reynolds explained why she went vegan. She said, “I decided to go vegan for a couple of different reasons. [After] watching countless documentaries, researching, and talking with other vegan friends, I awakened to the horrific truth of animal agriculture.
“Big corporations are feeding us lies such as, ‘We need milk for healthy bones’ and ‘Meat is protein’ when in reality plants can provide all of the nutrition, protein, and healthy fats we need to live a sustainable and balanced lifestyle. Over 56 billion farm animals are slaughtered each year for human consumption, and this figure doesn’t even include the fishing industry.”
Ho said, “I used to be a meat lover, I love eating meat. But the more I [learned] about how my eating habits affect my own health, the environment, and animals, I started to change.”
Natalie Bertha, a senior from California majoring in peace building, was vegetarian before she was vegan and decided to become vegan while serving a mission. Since becoming vegan, Bertha said, “I feel lighter. I feel clearer. I have learned a lot about how to make alternative recipes, and I feel like it’s better for the planet. It takes a really large amount of resources to cultivate a diet that includes meat like carbon admission. Living a plant life is better for the ecosystem.”
Reynolds, sharing her personal experience, said, “Going plant based has had incredible impacts in all areas of my life, such as alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression, clearing up my acne, feeling lighter and more energized, increased critical thinking, improved concentration and discipline in school and work life, eliminating other health concerns, and in a spiritual sense feeling more grounded with a balanced mind, body and spirit.”
Ho is happy about her decision to be vegan and advised others to “make a choice. Give yourself a chance. People do not necessarily have to be vegan, but there are a lot of benefits for eating more veggies and reducing meat.”
Reynolds said, “My advice to all those who are thinking about a plant-based lifestyle: Try going vegetarian first [and] see how it goes. Maybe go vegan for a week or two. It’s a transition and it definitely does not happen overnight. The biggest thing to remember is to have fun with it.”
Bertha said, “I’m definitely going to be listening to my body. I think it’s important to eat intuitively and be aware of what you’re putting in your body. As of now, it’s working for me, but I’m always open to change when I see a better course open up.”
Bertha said, “I love fruits and vegetables and I love colorful foods and putting good wholesome seasonal things in my body.”
Reynolds’ favorite part about being vegan is “all the fruits and veggies. I shop locally so I know where my food is coming from. I can reduce my carbon footprint, including eliminating plastic waste. I love, love, love grocery shopping. It’s so exciting when you get a beautiful papaya, and it’s even more beautiful eating it the next morning for breakfast. I really could go on and on about all the things I love about being vegan.”
Despite her love for veganism, Reynolds said, “I will strive to maintain a plant-based lifestyle for the rest of this earthly existence. It’s unrealistic of me to say I will never not be vegan. Sometimes I’ll have chocolate or pizza or maybe sometimes I’ll even go to McDonalds and eat those chicken tenders. I do the best I can.”
Bertha challenged the assumption that being vegan is too difficult or expensive. “It’s really not that hard. It’s actually less expensive than not being a vegan in my experience… It’s easy and it’s fun, but I think you should eat intuitively according to your body type.”
Reynolds added, “Being vegan can be super easy. ...There are tons of vegan supplements and substitutions for dairy and meat. Not all vegans are weird hippies.”