I was raised in a small farming community in Illinois where I grew up loving steak, mac and cheese, eggs and bacon. I loved all of the greasy, buttery, southern-style foods my dad and grandma would cook for us. But it’s been two and half years since I’ve tasted meat, one full year since I gave up eggs and dairy, and I don’t miss it at all.

I am vegan, which means I don’t use or consume anything derived from an animal. That includes meat, any dairy foods, eggs, honey and certain food dyes that include insects as an ingredient. I also don’t use any hygienic or cosmetic products that contain animal ingredients or have been tested on animals.

There are a lot of good reasons to want to switch to a vegan lifestyle, whether it be preventing animal cruelty, lowering greenhouse gas emissions or helping to stop the spread of world hunger. One of the biggest determining factors for me to change my lifestyle was my health.

Ever since kindergarten I’ve suffered from horrible, debilitating migraine headaches. I’d miss school and work and I’ve even been admitted to the emergency room multiple times because of the amount of pain I experienced.

My parents tried every medicine available to us on a fixed income to relieve my pain. We even had MRIs done to see if there was a tumor present in my brain. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was causing my migraines or how to treat them. So I dealt with it and carried it with me into adulthood.

I had a friend who had been a vegetarian for a long time, and she helped me make the switch myself. I’m also extremely passionate about animals and their welfare, so I thought I would love it, and I did for about a year. My migraines became less severe, but I still had at least three per week. I also started developing cystic acne, which I had never struggled with before.

I thought if I drank more water or started exercising again, my face would clear up. But it didn’t. I tried every cream and powder and product I could afford and still, nothing worked.

I finally made the switch to veganism after watching a few compelling documentaries. I played with the idea for a few months before finally deciding it was what I wanted, and now I can’t imagine my life any other way.

About two months into being vegan, my acne cleared up significantly and my migraines were occurring less frequently. Now, after over a year of eating vegan, I only get migraines once per month and they’re not nearly as severe as they used to be. I’ve also lost about 20 pounds healthily without adding a regular exercise regimen to my schedule.

Veganism has immense health benefits. Even the president of the American College of Cardiology, Kim Williams, is vegan and tells patients, “There’s two kinds of cardiologists, vegans and those who don’t have the real data.”

Plants not only contain all the vitamins and minerals the human body needs, but are also full of healthy carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, protein and fiber.

Multiple studies performed by the Journal of the American Heart Association, the Journal of Pediatrics and The American Journal of Medicine, among others show evidence that a vegan diet reduces the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and cancer. Veganism has also been proven to be an effective way to treat these diseases once they’ve already started.

Though some people think vegans don’t get enough protein in their diet or will wither away without meat, they’re wrong. I get the same amount of protein in my diet as meat eaters with less fat and can eat as much as I want, whenever I want without worrying about counting calories or gaining weight.

Eating vegan is tough. I get cravings for the foods I used to love all the time, but I know by avoiding animal products, I’m doing only good things for my body.

@bekah_morr

opinion-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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