I learned that my suitemate, Kabita, was vegan within the first 24 hours of meeting her. I don’t remember the exact details of how this came to light, but since then, I’ve been smothered with an onslaught of fun food facts such as “there are about four or five drops of pus in the average glass of milk” and “in some slaughterhouses, cows are placed in boxes that slowly cut off the animal’s supply of oxygen and replace it with asphyxiation gas.” Lighthearted stuff like that.
Kabita seems perfectly happy with her lifestyle, which perplexes me because I could probably eat an entire cow by myself in one sitting. I decided to talk to her about what makes being vegan so worthwhile, and what makes this diet so beneficial and popular.
Anna: What made you decide to become a vegan?
Kabita: My friend went vegan before me and noticed a difference in herself after only two weeks. She told me that she felt healthier and better about herself. I decided to try it too.
A: How did you go about changing your diet?
K: I got a lot of substitutes for the things I really liked, like cheese. I could keep eating all of the things I liked without having to change the way I ate. My mom was really helpful about offering alternatives for me.
A: Do you ever have concerns about not getting the nutrients one usually receives from animal products?
K: Yeah, I still am sometimes. I guess I have to think more about what I eat than other people do. I have to balance out the amounts of protein and vitamin C I take in each day. I also usually take a few supplements that fill in the blanks.
A: What health benefits have you felt since becoming vegan?
K: I always feel lighter after I eat somehow and am able to digest food more easily than I used to. I never used to want to do anything after I ate. Now that I am substituting meat with carbohydrates and sugars I just have more energy.
A: Is it ever difficult to stay true to this lifestyle?
K: I would say no. I actually really like a lot of vegan foods. Once I slipped and tried to go vegetarian for a while but I didn’t like it at all. I felt gross. After eating cheese for the first time in a while I thought I would really like it but somehow it just didn’t taste as good as it did before. It was really underwhelming.
A: Do you think Boston University accommodates vegans?
K: I do! There is a vegan station that has food every day which is really good. Even at the nonvegan stations they have all kinds of food that I can eat. They even have vegan desserts, which is such a plus.
A: What advice do you have for people who are considering becoming vegan?
K: Go for it. If you buy a lot of your own food, it is easier to learn to substitute all of your favorite things to eat. Start off by eating a ton to get used to the way everything tastes.
A: Is there anything you would want to say to people who are not vegan?
K: I’m honestly really tired of the jokes people make about vegans, because a big misconception is that we see our lifestyles as superior, but it’s not really like that. I think people have a lot of valid reasons for adopting this lifestyle. If we talk to people about being vegan, it’s out of genuine interest, not pretension. I don’t talk about how I am vegan very much but when people do hear me talk about it they get annoyed, no matter what I’m trying to say. I think people should listen to what we have to say because we do have valid reasons for making this choice, whether environmental, health related or moral.
Living with and talking to a vegan each day has helped clear up the misconceptions I originally had about the lifestyle. Although I do not plan on ending my love affair with meat and dairy, I have gained a respect for what Kabita and other vegans are choosing to do. They possess such a genuine interest in what they are doing and they just want to share that curiosity with people. Once we are able to convince ourselves that they’re not pretentiously preaching to us from the top of a soapbox, we can start to see this more clearly.