Breakfast: cereal with almond milk. Lunch: rice. Dinner: fruit, vegetables, nuts. No meat, no eggs, no dairy. This is what Alexis Hegedus, vegan and student, eats in a day.
In a country full of fast food, GMOs, and obesity, Hegedus is taking care of her body in the most basic way where most Americans abuse it. Instead of eating whatever she wants and then buying products to reverse the effects, she treats her body as a temple and reaps all the benefits from it.
“One of my favorite quotes is ‘The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.’ I always keep this in mind when deciding what to put into my body,” Hegedus said.
“I follow a vegan diet, which means I don’t eat any animal products or byproducts,” Hegedus said.“Before I was vegan, I ate anything that I wanted and was pretty unhealthy. I was borderline anorexic and decided I wanted to watch what I eat in a healthier way.”
Hegedus first became interested in veganism as a sophomore in high school. While on YouTube she came across a video by YouTube vlogger Freelee The Banana Girl and it taught her about veganism. Hegedus heard about how it’s impacted Freelee’s life and became more interested and began researching on other Internet platforms. She decided she wanted to try it.
After a week she wasn’t sure if it was for her. It was hard to find good food that followed the diet. She then found videos of animals from dairy and chicken farms being tortured and she committed to veganism because of her love for animals.
Most of sophomore year she was fully vegan but fell off in the spring. She was vegetarian but ate products with dairy in them.
“I talked to myself and said, ‘What are you doing? Dairy doesn’t make me feel good,’” Hegedus said.
Then she cut it out completely once again and has been vegan for about two years.
Hegedus has been vegan for a long time for two reasons, the first being the health benefits that come with it.
“I’ve noticed a change in my digestive health and an overall good feeling,” Hegedus said. “Since becoming vegan, school has made a lot more sense and I’ve had more energy and motivation.”
Some vegans instead experience a lack of energy, known as ‘burn-out’. This is the opposite of Hegedus who says that as long as you eat a lot of the right stuff you won’t feel tired. Hegedus eats a lot of brown rice, spinach, apples, and other high energy foods to avoid getting tired.
The second reason Hegedus keeps her vegan diet is animal rights. She explains that she doesn’t think people deserve to eat animals that they didn’t kill themselves, but since dairy cows aren’t killed and need to be milked anyway, we’re just helping them, right? Hegedus explains that the dairy industry is actually more torturous than the meat industry.
“The cows live in a constant cycle of impregnation, birth, and milking. With only a few months of rest in between, the cows are treated like objects rather than living beings. The calves being born are ripped away from their mothers only to become another dairy cow,” Hegedus said. “Chickens are kept in too small of cages with too many other chickens, while the roosters are killed because they can’t produce eggs and are useless. Free range animals are a way better alternative because the animals actually get a life, but the health effects on your body are still there.”
Hegedus is very passionate about veganism, although she does have moments where she thinks about going back to a regular diet,
“I have moments where I’m like, so what? Whatever? What is one person going to do,” she said.
Hegedus combats these thoughts by remembering what made her become vegan.
“I go watch animal torture videos and come back to reality. I just can’t stand the thought of those animals feeling the way they do all for a glass of milk.”
Although vegans are doing something admirable for the sake of animals, they often get a bad rap from people who don’t understand what they are doing. They are seen as pushy and are often remembered as always bragging about their lifestyle.
“People are often ignorant about veganism and rude towards vegans. They think we’re pushy and annoying,” Hegedus said.
Vegans are stereotyped a certain way: assertive, annoying, arrogant. Hegedus combats the stereotyping by not talking about veganism unless she is asked about it.
“I try not to talk about it because there are certain connotations that come with being vegan. Unless people ask me about it and are genuinely interested I don’t make a big deal out of it. I used to try and get people to be vegan or even vegetarian but most people don’t want to change their diet so it’s pointless,” Hegedus said. “I’ll tell people the reasons I’m vegan and the benefits of it, if they ask, but I don’t try and recruit them.”
When people question her diet/beliefs, Hegedus doesn’t get angry, rather she feels excited to explain why, and give them insight and information on the subject.
“I think everyone should try it and decide for themselves,” she said.
Hegedus doesn’t think everyone should adopt this diet because some people feel tired and don’t get enough nutrition through it. She does think everyone should try it and decide for themselves. Clear skin, weight loss, and less bloating are all benefits that Hegedus has experienced from going vegan.
“Seventy-five percent of people are allergic to dairy, so when you cut it out of your diet it can drastically change the way your body feels. Dairy is in a lot of food products and if it’s not dairy, it’s the protein whey, that is made from milk to add to the nutritional content,” she said. “Many people have a hard time not eating dairy because of its prevalence and they like the taste. But once it is cut out, people will have a better time with digestion and overall feeling.”
For Hededus being vegan is the best decision she’s ever made.
The advice she has for all aspiring vegans is, “Eat a lot. Don’t stop eating, it is so important to get as many calories as you can. And the more food you eat the less non-vegan food you’ll crave. Don’t give into cravings, if you can get over the first three weeks of cravings, you can do it.”