Veganism can be quite the polarizing topic.
I’m sure for many readers, veganism is associated with Instagram models and rainbow-colored meals set in front of a perfectly blue ocean, with a caption about the spiritual epiphany they had on their 10-mile run. Or maybe veganism is stereotypically about those yoga sessions on the deck of a treehouse that was built out of lettuce leaves.
I acknowledge that these Instagram sensations have played major roles in the spread of veganism.
As a vegan at Lehigh, I’ve learned that to many of my peers, this impeccable display of food and flowery language often tied to veganism can be intimidating.
But I am here to speak for the not-so-glamorous vegans. Just like you, I have a 19-meal-a-week plan and a tiny fridge that at times overachieves and freezes my food. I have absolutely no motivation to “meal prep” extravagant breakfasts for every day of the week. Being a vegan is not extravagant, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
When I went vegan during my junior year of high school, it was anything but expected. In fact, the day before I went vegan I ate chicken for dinner.
My decision to go vegan was a result of food documentaries and graphic Youtube videos that advise you not to watch. I watched anyway and was immediately impacted.
After watching these videos, I was uncomfortable with the fact that my food’s preparation had to be censored or have “Warning: graphic content” written across the screen.
So I went vegan overnight. At first, nobody believed that I would actually follow through with it. So I accepted the challenge and haven’t looked back for two and a half years.
I immediately realized I had no idea what I was doing. My meals consisted of whatever vegetable I was lucky enough to find in the fridge and a lot of pretzels and hummus.
At times, I wondered if I was being a “good vegan.” My meals were definitely not aesthetically pleasing, and I wasn’t eating 10 bananas a day, like all the Hawaiian vegans were.
However, as I learned to navigate through the grocery store aisles, and even mastered self-checkout, I fell in love with veganism. It has allowed me to eat ethically and gain independence before college. But, most importantly, I now have the skills to make cheese out of vegetables.
As a student at Lehigh, being vegan has only enhanced my experience. Now, I always have a good excuse to go to Vegan Treats, and I can even request my favorite meal from the cooking staff in Rathbone.
As a not-so-glamorous vegan, some days consist of a random hodgepodge of oatmeal, breakfast bars, smoothies and granola. But more often than not, I have had a significant amount of control over what I’m feeding my body.
Veganism can seem restricting to many people, but for me, it’s been the opposite. Not only has C-Town’s produce section become my second home, but I have discovered random concoctions that make the perfect Starbucks drinks and learned how to make oatmeal not taste like horse food.
Don’t let the unshaven, sun-kissed Instagram vegans scare you. Remember me as a comparison. I am a girl who went three shades lighter in foundation during my first semester at Lehigh.
Not only has being vegan opened up the door to many delectable cuisines on campus, veganism is also a great conversation starter at a party.
Try it out. You won’t be disappointed.
Megan Brubaker, ’21, is an assistant lifestyle editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at email@example.com.