Biology in high school is usually just your typical GNED where you have to dissect frogs, learn about our Earth, and study animals and chemicals. However, for me it was a turning point that made me want to stop eating animals. I didn’t want to dissect anything, so I made my lab partner do it. Of course with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), I also was scared my hamburger or chicken could possibly give me parasites after reading about food-borne illnesses.
Thanksgiving rolled around and my mom asked me to take the huge raw chicken out of the sink and put it in the oven. It wasn’t long before I started dry heaving and ran in the bathroom. I then decided I did not want to consume animals anymore.
Being a new vegetarian in a family of hunters and meat eaters was tough for the first few years. Unfortunately, I turned to a lot of bread, pasta, cheese, and other carbs during tough times in high school and my early college years. I started gaining weight in high school and reached 201 pounds in 2009 in my sophomore year of college. I knew something had to change in my diet when I had no self-confidence and my health was on the line. I started to watch my portions and logged what I ate at the beginning of 2010. Since then, I lost around 80 pounds and slowly starting eating more of a plant-based diet.
In my fall semester of college in 2012 I started transitioning to a vegan diet. I added more whole grains, veggies, vegan cheese, almond milk, and other vegan substitutes to my diet. I started with vegan breakfasts and lunches and carried vegan snacks with me to classes. Then, when my lactose intolerance became worse, and having a sensitive stomach since I was little, I decided to eliminate all animal bi-products that would affect how I felt. As a result, I felt incredible! I was able to maintain a healthy weight when I stopped counting calories and focused on eating healthful, whole, vegan foods. I researched for almost a year before I officially became a 100% vegan on August 1st, 2013.
Friends always ask me, “But why!? Don’t you miss ‘x’, ‘y’, and ‘z’.” Sure, it can be easier to go back to being a vegetarian, but I always remind myself why I’m doing this. Not only am I very healthy, but I can save thousands of animals every year and take care of our planet. I can conserve water usage, reduce my carbon footprint, and save millions of animals from suffering every day. Why wouldn’t you want to make this world a better place by simply changing what you dish up on your plate?
In the end, veganism isn’t all about me. It’s about ensuring this Earth is clean, healthy, and full of life.
So here’s a recipe that has been approved multiple times by many friends and family members! One of my favorites growing up was my Mom’s mac and cheese- now it’s veganized!
1 ½ cups uncooked macaroni (5 oz)
2 tablespoons Earth Balance
1 small onion, chopped (1/4 cup) or 1/2 tsp onion powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups unsweetened almond milk (or original unsweetened soy milk)
6 oz Daiya mozzarella shreds
- Heat oven to 375°F. Cook and drain macaroni as directed on package using minimum cook time.
- Meanwhile, in a 2-quart saucepan, melt Earth Balance over medium heat.
- Slowly add flour and onion powder into Earth Balance creating a rue.
- Slowly add in milk and heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat.
- Stir in Daiya until melted.
- Stir in macaroni and pour into ungreased casserole pan or crockpot.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and light brown.
Bio: Mandie K. Schreck is a health and wellness blogger passionate about inspiring others to nourish their body from the inside out. She blogs about yoga, spirituality, meditation, fitness, veganism, and overall wellness. She hopes to reach out to others who want to enrich their lives, create a strong mind and body connection, and live their healthiest life possible. Check out her WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.