Meet Liz Sweeney. She is a sophomore here at St. Joseph’s University majoring in psychology, and minoring in political science. Liz has been a vegan for four years, but has been a vegetarian since she was in the fifth grade. A vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat, while a vegan is someone who consumes no animal products. According to Food Revolution Network, there has been a 600 percent increase in people who identify as vegans in the last three years in the US. We interviewed Liz in order to dive into her journey to veganism and what it’s really like being a vegan college student.

Q: Why did you start as vegetarian and the go vegan?

A: I was raised eating a normal, standard American diet and I just felt like that was the first place to go. For a while I wanted to become vegan however I just wanted to wait so I could do it for a sustainable amount of time.

Q: Where did you first hear about veganism?

A: Documentaries, YouTube channels, and books.

Q: Why did you go from vegetarian to vegan?

A: I learned more about the impacts of animal agriculture on the environment and our bodies. I just decided I wanted to be more conscious with the way I ate.

Q: Why did you decide to go vegan?

A: For ethical, environmental, and health reasons.

  • Ethical: There are estimates that there are tons of grain that is fed to cows and cattle that could instead be used to feed a lot of starving people and that to me was something I could not sit with. It was upsetting that we are using twice the amount of food to produce animal products. I disagree with the mass slaughtering and the abuse that occurs in meat farms. I think animal agriculture should be on a smaller scale where the treatment of animals is prioritized. In order to do so, the US population has to consume less animal products in order to have enough land for production with the growing population.
  • Environmental: One of the leading causes of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture.
  • Health:  Naturally my body feels best on a plant based diet. Especially since cutting out dairy products, I have better digestion, better mental clarity, and more energy.

The real trick is eating enough food and eating the right amount. One thing I tried to make sure of was that in almost every meal I tried to get an adequate amount of each macronutrient (carbs, fats, and proteins).

Q: What do you typically eat in a day ?

A: My meals typically vary, but for breakfast I will typically have cheerios with a banana, almond milk, and cinnamon. For lunch I will have a veggie burger on sprouted ezekiel bread with a baked sweet potato. For dinner I will have meatless chili with corn, beans, a La Croix and some greens and a piece of fruit.

Photo By Caroline Vita

Q: Is there any food that you miss?

A: No because every food that I enjoyed as a kid I can have now whether that be ice cream, mac n cheese, cookies, chicken nuggets, etc. The beauty of being vegan in this day and age is that there are vegan equivalents to every food therefore you never feel deprived. It really just takes some exploration into different grocery stores and a little creativity in the kitchen.

Q: What is your favorite meal?

A: My mom who also is vegan makes a really authentic rice and beans recipe with a lot of spices and herbs. Pro tip for any potential or new vegans: the combination of rice and beans is considered a complete or whole protein meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids. Aka the food of life.

Q: Is going out to eat with friends difficult?

A: It’s a difficult adjustment being vegan. I would say it would be more difficult if I was a picky eater. For me my philosophy with veganism has always been to make it sustainable and accessible and never an obstacle in my life or others. I haven’t found a restaurant I can’t find a good meal at. The trick is to find meals where you can substitute foods like cheese for avocado. When in doubt, your best bet is choosing a bunch of the sides on the menu and creating my own meal. I like this method because it doesn’t interfere with my social interactions even when my friends are eating pizza. One thing I’ll do so that I don’t feel left out is take off the cheese. With a vegan diet, it all comes down to being creative and adaptable.

Q: How did you survive freshman year in Campion?

A: It was difficult, but I feel like Campion is difficult for any type of eater as there is not a wide variety of options. I lived of off the oatmeal station in the mornings, veggie and hummus sandwiches at the wrap station, the salad bar of course, pasta line, and the stir fry station. One trick is, I would go on the online menu in the mornings and find what was listed as vegan for the day. That way I knew ahead of time what I could eat.

Thank you Liz for sharing with us your journey to veganism. If you’re interested in trying veganism for a day, check out this hawk chill article to see how you can do it in Campion. To learn more about veganism, check out the vegan society’s website.


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