I Am A Vegan Student
…& Soon-to-Be Physical Therapist!
Hello! I’m Sarah, and I will be graduating with my Doctorate in Physical Therapy in May. I went vegetarian in November of 2012, and made the transition to veganism in October of 2013. It’s been a long journey, difficult at times and joyful during others. I am still learning new things every single day! Many people think that being vegan as a college student is too difficult or expensive, but I have been able to make it work, and will continue to make it work because of the important place animals, the planet, and my health have in my life now.
When I started college back in 2010, I began to develop an interest in health & fitness. I truly knew nothing about the most effective way to live a healthy life, and totally gained the Freshman 15. I was very discouraged, and finally decided that I needed to take control over my health. This realization led me to watch several documentaries on the healthcare system and the food industry. What I learned was shocking and overwhelming, but I decided to take action instead of sitting back and doing nothing.
The more I learned, the more I noticed a trend, and the less I wanted to eat meat and contribute my money to practices that were supporting animal cruelty and the destruction of the environment. Some examples of my favorite documentaries that really got me thinking about going vegetarian were Food Inc., Hungry for Change, Food Matters, and Forks Over Knives. I also read the book “Skinny Bitch” by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. In the Fall of 2012, when I moved off campus, I became a lacto-ovo-vegetarian.
When I was a vegetarian, I always wondered about a vegan diet, but I thought that it would be much too challenging, too restrictive, or too expensive to maintain. I actually remember telling people, “I could never go vegan” (yes, I was one of those!). However, in Fall of 2013, I watched 2 more documentaries that made me consider going vegan more seriously: Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, as well as Vegucated. After watching Vegucated, I sat on my couch and cried. I could not stop thinking about what I had learned and what I had seen; it was unlike any other documentary I had seen before.
That is the documentary that FINALLY got through to me about the cruelties in the dairy and egg industries, and I couldn’t ignore the facts anymore. A couple weeks later on October 1st of 2013, I committed to 30 days of veganism. I called it “Vegan-tober.” I have always liked challenges, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I remember thinking to myself, “Even if I only last a month, I will still have minimized suffering of animals and my impact on the environment.” However, the 30 days never ended, and here I am, 2.5 years later, and I have no plans on going back to the way I used to live.
I have overcome many “challenges” in my vegan years so far: having to eat out at vegan-unfriendly chain restaurants and diners with family & friends, attending social events with very minimal food options available to me, traveling as a vegan, and more. I have decided to always make the best out of it. I need to remind myself that I want to be a good example of veganism to promote the lifestyle change to others. I want others to realize that it’s not as difficult as it seems, and that I can still enjoy myself and have fun at social gatherings, and in everyday life.
I love sharing vegan foods with my family and friends. I always try to remain optimistic about the future of veganism. I constantly try to show the benefits of being vegan through my everyday living and actions rather than “preaching” or making others feel guilty or judged. My friends at college or work often ask me what I’m eating, and I just let them know and try it if they want. I do my best to educate whenever someone asks me a question about veganism, or why I live the way that I do. Since going vegan, I have completed 2 half-marathons, a Tough Mudder, and completed various at-home workout programs. I want to show others that you don’t need animal products to become healthy & strong!
Vegan food and social situations were the biggest obstacles I feel that I had to overcome in the beginning of my journey. Now, that part is pretty easy for me, and I have been looking for more ways to get involved in the vegan movement, and how I can improve the way I live my life and help others. I have ventured into the world of animal sanctuaries, and volunteer at Asha Sanctuary (check them out here: http://www.ashasanctuary.com) in Newfane, NY whenever I can get there. Lately, I have enjoyed delving deeper into topics and issues in veganism and other movements, and how they relate to each other more than I ever realized. I have learned a lot from the VWPA podcast, as well as the Bearded Vegans podcast.
I hope to be a positive influence for my family, friends, and future patients. I will continue to combine my passion for health, fitness, and veganism to be the best advocate possible!
Sarah Lang is the author of the blog Veggie-Saurus Sarah where she talks veganism, good eats, staying active, and updates on her life adventures. She is also a health & fitness coach helping others to take control of their health and their inner critic.
She will be graduating from Daemen College in May of 2016, and will be a licensed physical therapist once she takes her board exam in July of 2016.
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