I am obsessed with animals. My main love is dogs, but I am completely in awe of almost every animal I see. I’ve been this way since I was little, constantly begging my parents to let me have another animal to add to my gang (they would then tell me I could get a stuffed version of whatever I had asked for). I’ll never forget the day, after months of online searching and begging, that we got my first dog Tiger, a very small Shih-Tzu. He unfortunately didn’t have a very long life due to health problems from being inbred (I know, sad).
Then, shortly after, we got my best friend: My beloved Shih-Tzu named Oliver Twist. He came to us sassy, un-cuddly and sort of distant. He has a very big ego still to this day. I think that’s what has always made me love and adore him.. He’s the dog version of me (minus the big ego).
I also had a brief stint with a hamster named Charlie. I thought he was the coolest thing ever (turns out HE was a SHE) until I tried to pick him up and he bit me. After that, I was a little distant from Charlie. I’d occasionally put him in his hamster ball and show him some love, but I was too afraid to pick him up again. One night, Charlie escaped from his hamster home and ran across my room. I jumped onto my bed, too scared that if I got down, he would bite me. I was terrified of a miniature, dwarf hamster. He was found and returned to his cage. To my surprise, my Mom decided to give Charlie away one day to a family friend. I cried my eyes out, but later learned that this was a better decision.
I was soon okay.. because we still had my Shnubby-Wubby (Oliver).
In Spring 2014, I was living in Chicago for school. I had been quite bored during the day in-between classes and had started watching some Netflix documentaries about animal-free diets. I had been kind of big on eating healthy for a good year-and-a-half before that so I figured it was something I could easily do. I had heard of several students around campus who followed this diet and they seemed healthy and fine. But, this time I wasn’t just doing it to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I was doing it for the animals; my fluffy little friends.
So, that was it. I made my decision. My roommate Taylor decided to join me in this journey. We cold-turkey (hehe) gave up meat and animal products in exchange for veggies, fruits, beans, whole grains and nuts. It’s basically totally amped-up vegetarianism. I shopped at Trader Joes for everything (I 10/10 recommend Trader Joes even if you’re not vegan) since it keeps things pretty natural and cheap. Below is some food I ate while vegan:
I lasted total about 1 month. I must say, it’s a lot harder to do then it sounds. I have a lot of respect for those who choose this a life-long thing because it’s awesome. If I wasn’t so weak, I would still be doing it, but I am a huge foodie who loves chicken.
If you’re curious how Taylor and I broke the vegan-life, she was taken over by the cheese fry demons, and I (soon after) was taken over by the cupcake demons. We just weren’t meant to be, BUT WE DID TRY VERY HARD.
Some great things that came out of being vegan: my hair was super shiny, my face was clear and smooth, I felt great about myself and I ate at home more.
Chicago is home to some pretty delicious vegan places to eat (even if you aren’t vegan normally, still amazing to give it a try) like The Chicago Diner and Native Foods Cafe. Chicago Diner is if you’re looking for some (normally) unhealthy meals like burgers and shakes. Native Foods has slightly healthier foods like wraps, sandwiches and amazing sweet potato fries.
In my opinion, just because you don’t totally follow a vegan lifestyle, doesn’t mean you can’t try out the foods or try to eat this way a few days a week.