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Guest Blog: How I Decided to Become Vegan

Hello everyone! My name is Molly, and I am currently a junior at the University of Vermont double majoring in Food Systems and Nutrition and Food Science. I stopped eating meat when I was 16 and became vegan at 19. I love the culinary arts and my favorite part is seeing the joy on people’s faces when I share something that I made. I am now 20 years old and when I think back to when I was young, I had no knowledge of a plant-based diet since it was something that was never talked about.

It wasn’t until a friend shared sad videos of animals being hurt for the sake of our food that I decided to stop eating meat. Last year I decided I wasn’t doing enough. In my Food Systems classes, I learned that the dairy industry is just as bad as the meat industry, if not worse. Along with animal cruelty and harsh living conditions, cows put a lot of carbon dioxide into the air which contributes to the degradation of the ozone layer. My excuse to not take the plunge and become vegan, like many people’s, was that I loved cheese too much. But this is bigger than my love of cheese. It was time to stop being selfish and using animals for my own personal gain. But, I have gained so much more than I have lost, including a whole new food world and a community.

Cooking in a College Apartment

Since I am a junior in college, I live in an off-campus apartment. When looking for apartments during my sophomore year, I knew what was at the top of my priority list: a big kitchen! I knew I would be cooking and baking all the time, which meant I needed space. Luckily I now live in an apartment with an awesome kitchen, with lots of room to open up and use my Compassionate Cuisine cookbook (I highly recommend buying one). I live with three other girls: one vegetarian and two omnivores. I am the only vegan in my family, so I am used to being “the odd one out.”

When I had a chat with Chef Linda the other day, we both agreed that the best way to win over a non-vegan is to cook good vegan food. If I make something and it tastes good, veganism will seem more approachable. My favorite things to cook are that of Asian cuisine.

My Majors

Prior to this past summer, I was a Food Systems major with a minor in Nutrition and Food Science. I decided that I loved learning about nutrition so much that I needed to double major. Most people know what a Nutrition major entails but aren’t familiar with a Food Systems major. Food Systems is an up-and-coming major that is in a select number of schools. It is very broad, but I describe it as learning the ins and outs of taking food from the farm to your table. Some classes that I have taken are Food Policy and Politics, Farm to Table, and Ecological Agriculture. My other major, Nutrition and Food Science, is more focused on Food Science compared to Dietetics (which is the major you would declare if you would like to become a Dietician). The difference between a Nutritionist and a Dietician is that a Dietician needs to go to college and take a test every so many years to keep their certification. Essentially, anyone can call themselves a Nutritionist but not everyone can call themselves a Dietician. I chose Nutrition over Dietetics because I am not interested in consulting with others on their nutrition habits or with hospitals and schools on their meal plans.

One aspect of Nutrition that I am really enthusiastic about is nutrition education. I believe that kids need to know about their body’s relationship with food and how to make it better. Also, if kids know how to cook and prepare healthy foods, then they are more likely to be healthy adults. I have come a long way from high school when I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the future, just that I wanted it to involve food. When I was in high school getting ready to apply to colleges, no one told me that a major in food was possible! I was only told about English, Economics, History, or other typical majors. For those who love food but are unsure of what kind of job they would like, I urge you to look into agriculture schools! You can major in Plant Biology, Agroecology, Dietetics, and more.

If you are interested in food but don’t know where it can take out, just know there are lots of opportunities! You can combine your love of veganism with your love of food for a future career. I love what the Catskill Animal Sanctuary is doing, and I hope that one day I can work alongside them!

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