Teenager’s Perspective On Veganism

As I mentioned earlier this week I’ve been vegan for about a year-and-a-half now.  I made the switch when I was fourteen years old and I’m now sixteen.  The experience has been mostly positive, but I’d be lying if I failed to tell you about the drawbacks and doubts I’ve had about being vegan as well.

Physical

From a purely physical stand point I definitely feel I’ve benefited from veganism.  Once the initial detox was over I found myself consistently more energetic.  I found myself having the energy to spend more time producing and doing rather than consuming and watching.

In addition I’ve found that my need for sleep has reduced since eliminating animal products from my diet.  It’s not been a drastic change, but I’ve been able to feel well rested on 15-30 minutes less per night than before.

The most noticeable change, however, is that I’m able to wake up more easily in the morning.  Before I’d feel like a zombie when I woke up, but I now feel relatively well upon waking.  I still experience some level of sleep inertia, but it’s not nearly on the level it once was.

Despite the talk about protein on a vegan diet I’ve actually found myself doing better with athletics over the last couple years.  Although my lifting ability was relatively unaffected by my switch to veganism, I found my cardiovascular capacity to be leaps and bounds better than it was before.

The explosiveness of my muscles hasn’t changed much, but they seem to almost never tire.  Although I haven’t run much this year, I found in the months following the switch my times dropped in all my endurance events and the overall level of exertion seemed less extreme as well.

I also found that after workouts I almost never had the next day soreness.  It still happened on occasion if I tried a new lift or workout, but it wasn’t the daily occurrence it used to be.

As far as my body goes, the only thing I haven’t liked about veganism is the endless predicament of getting enough calories.  Between lifting and juggling I have a huge caloric need and it seems as though I need to eat constantly to be able to get enough calories.

This isn’t a huge issue as my parents still pay for and prepare the majority of my food, but I could definitely see how this could pose an issue for older people switching to a similar diet.

The good thing about eating vegan, however, is that I almost never have that post meal bloated feeling I used to have.  I did go through periods of digestive hell when I went through my mad Kashi phase, but since I stopped eating Kashi I almost always feel energetic instead of weighted down after eating.

Mental

Without a doubt I’m sharper on a vegan diet.  My speed of thought is quicker and I’m able to process more complex situations without as much difficulty.

I don’t have any tangible evidence in the form of say an IQ test pre and post vegan diet, but subjectively I feel as though I now have greater mental clarity.  When I look at some of the things I’ve written pre and post veganism it seems as though my thoughts are more concise, but at the same time, deeper.  It’s like a switch went off and I was able to understand more complicated things, but express them with fewer words.

I also found the overall difficulty of school dramatically dropped off.  I noticed I was able to pay less attention during class while still maintaining straight A’s.  I also found myself working more quickly and having to come home with less homework.

I feel my mental health is the one area of my life where I experienced virtually no drawbacks after switching to veganism.

Social

My social life has definitely been hit by becoming vegan, but not to the extent I expected it to be.  I thought that when I became vegan hanging out with my friends away from my house was going to become virtually impossible, but I was completely wrong.

Although I lack the spontaneity my friends have in being able to hit up any restaurant, this actually hasn’t been a huge issue.  I was never into eating out, so few of my relationships revolved around eating anyway.

There’ve been a few times where I had to hang out with new people, or find something else to do because my friends only wanted to meet up for food, but it’s been an almost irrelevant rare occurrence.

What’s affected me more is when I’m hanging out with friends and dinner time rolls around.  When I first switched to veganism this was tremendously uncomfortable for me, but now it’s almost a non issue.

Whoever’s house I’m at usually has some fruit so I’m usually able to eat while everyone else is.  The only thing that I’m still working to become more comfortable with is answering other’s questions about veganism while we’re eating.

Food’s a sensitive subject for most people and even more so at the dinner table. I’m trying to become better at quickly addressing their curiosities and changing the subject as I understand a long drawn out debate will do nothing aside from making the whole situation awkward for everyone.

That being said, veganism hasn’t been a huge issue for my social life.  Although I’m working to get out more, I’m still largely an introvert so these issues have likely affected me less than more extroverted people.  I’m interested to see how this changes as I become older and my social scene changes.

Spiritual

Although I initially became a vegan for spiritual reasons, I’ve felt some moderate issues with its congruency in recent months.

Although I’m certain it’s wrong to treat animals the way they’re treated in factory farms, I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole circle of life issue lately.  It’s definitely wrong to torture animals, but is it entirely wrong to eat ethically slaughtered ones?

I don’t know.  One side of me feels it is, but the other says that eating animals is just part of the natural order of life.  Everything must die in order to make room for new life, and the consumption of meat is just one example of that.  I’m really confused on the right way to feel about the whole situation.

Another problem veganism presents is it inhibits my ability to travel.  In a few years I’d like to be able to head to an airport, buy a ticket to a country I’ve never heard of, and spend a couple weeks there.  Obviously having such a small subset of foods I’m able to eat really limits my ability to do this.

Veganism also limits my ability to backpack and travel in more remote places that may or may not have many options for food.  I feel travel is a huge element to spiritual exploration and being somewhat limited in this regard has created a lot of inner turmoil.

I don’t know how I’m going to address this going forward, but it’s on my mind almost constantly.  There’s nothing I find more exciting than the possibility of exploring far off lands, but I just haven’t found a way of effectively doing that as a vegan.

Conclusion

Overall, I’ve been happy with being vegan and plan to stay this way for the foreseeable future.  With that being said, I’m also open to new ideas and change, so I’m not making a lifelong commitment to it.

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