By AMANDA WAHLSTEDT
Each time we open our new issue of Cosmopolitan or Vogue, we are faced with size 00 models with 30 Ds and 24’’ waistlines. And as we stare back and forth between ourselves and these unattainable bodies, our eyes finally wander over to the written articles, in hope that it will distract us from our defeat. Yet even there, we are then confronted with unrealistic and unhealthy food tips and meal plans. The maple syrup cayenne pepper juice; the “no carbs” diet, the nothing but accidental late night binge eating diet, the liquid diet, the six mini meals a day diet, the I-give-up diet. In a society that puts extreme emphasis on thinness, unhealthy eating habits are ubiquitous. Though we are all told that models are photo-shopped and that we shouldn’t worry about the number on the scale, many of us are still consumed by our appearances. Attending an all girls high school in New York City, I have witnessed countless teenagers eschew thoughtful nutrition for Coke Zero and gum in effort to lose weight. I, too, have succumbed to these crash diets.
While studying abroad in Switzerland, my daily meals consisted of red meats, buttery potatoes and lots and lots of rich chocolate. And after just three months, I returned home with no energy, a face filled with acne and an extra 15 pounds around my waist. I tried everything to get back to my original body, but nothing worked. I would drop 10 pounds and then gain 20. I was constantly feeling fatigued and famished. Finally, my savior found me: Veganism.
Veganism isn’t so much a diet as it is a lifestyle. While diets focus on reaching your target weight and short-term solutions to weight loss, veganism focuses on your long-term health, which comes with the added bonus of a fit physique. For those of you who don’t know, vegans don’t eat any animal products – that includes everything from your bacon, egg and cheese bagels from CTB to the chicken parmesan from Zaza’s. And while this can be scary at first, the advantages of being a vegan overwhelmingly compensate for the denial of animal products. After following a vegan lifestyle for just a month, I not only felt more energized, but my skin cleared up, my hair seemed to be healthier and I was back down to my target weight.
But there is more to veganism than just cutting out food groups. In the last few years, I have met several people who decided to turn to veganism because they heard it was a quick way to help you shed pounds. But many make the mistake of indulging on simple sugars and carbohydrates, like pasta and bread, since they don’t know what else veganism has to offer. Yes, Oreos and potato chips are vegan, but that doesn’t mean they are healthy. It’s important to know about what you’re putting in your body and the effects that different food have on you in order to embrace a healthy and wholesome lifestyle.
My biggest fear when I embraced veganism was that my sweet tooth would never be satisfied – I ignorantly believed that all you could eat was greens and tofu. As a lover of all things chocolate, I never thought I would be able to do it. But soon I learned that there is a healthful substitute for almost everything. Rather than gobbling up a high calorie sugar and chemical filled doughnut, I learned how to make delicious and nutritious homemade vegan treats. I was suddenly eating everything from old-fashion chocolate chip cookies, to surprisingly delicious cauliflower chocolate cake. I was able to indulge knowing that with each bite, I was nourishing my body. Everything is guilt-free. Since becoming vegan, I have taken it upon myself to try and educate those on healthful nutrition: Even if I can’t convert all of you, I hope this blog can be an outlet for anyone looking for quick tips on healthy living, vegan finds in Ithaca and deliciously nutritious recipes.
RECIPE | Single Serving Banana Walnut Pancakes (can be made gluten free)