You Are Who You Are — Depending on where you are.

Santa Barbara, CA — Gorgeous and fun place to live in, with an abundance of temptations.

Since writing my last blog post, I graduated with my BA in Anthropology and returned to my original hometown in the Bay Area, CA. I would like to say that I have made significant progress with my goal to become vegan, but sadly I can’t write that today (I promised a completely honest account, and I’m holding true to my word). At this point I’m only about 50% vegan.

However, I’m making progress, and those small victories are very meaningful to me. I used to eat an egg for breakfast every day, and I haven’t touched an egg in over a week, opting for cereal with almond milk and fruits instead. Progress!

I’m writing because I feel like one of the reasons I’ve struggled with my transition to veganism is because of the dramatically different lifestyle I led a month ago versus the one I lead today. The abrupt change in lifestyle, accompanied by the different people I am surrounded by now, have affected my ability to transition to veganism. I honestly think that I have a better shot to become vegan now than I did when I lived in Santa Barbara.

Why is this? Why do the people and the lifestyle (in this case, college vs. suburban) affect my own ability to make food choices? Shouldn’t I be in full control over that at all times? I thought I could make this transition regardless of where I was in life (mentally and physically), but I recently came to the conclusion that I was wrong.

This is similar (yet still different) to the epiphany I had when I realized (and wrote about) the fact that timing is everything. Whether you’re talking about the formation of a romantic relationship, starting a new venture, or pursuing a new objective, timing is everything — but so is your location, and even your current social standing (who your friends are and how often you hang out).

The opportunities and temptations I was surrounded with dramatically changed when I moved from college and great friends to mom’s couch and a blander social life. This had a much greater impact on my ability to become vegan than I had expected.

When I lived at the University of California, Santa Barbara, I was active every day and throughout the night. When I wasn’t studying, you could find me dancing in a variety of different places, or else eating at 3AM at Denny’s with friends. The opportunities to splurge in college were abundant since I was always out and about, which made it much more difficult for me to focus on a vegan lifestyle. Eating out with friends is admittedly much more difficult on a vegan diet, especially when it’s 3AM and you have finished dancing/socializing and just want to grab a bite.

A lifestyle change like veganism requires adequate planning on a daily basis. It’s much easier to stick with a diet when you plan snacks and meals ahead of time, which is something that’s almost impossible for most busy college students to do. Couple that with the temptations of what my friends were eating (Pancakes at 3AM? Yes, please) and it becomes a very difficult task to achieve.

A month after graduating, I have reverted back into a suburbanite: I pass out before midnight and hardly ever have evening plans. But I digress — my point being that I suddenly have an abundance of free time and stability that wasn’t afforded to me in college. My goals seem easier to achieve, and I have begun to lose the “stress weight” I gained during the last nerve-wracking months as I fought to graduate.

(On a side note, in case anyone is looking for effective dieting methods, I have successfully lost weight in the past by counting calories — scientifically studied and proven to be the best way to lose weight in a healthy way because you hold yourself accountable and monitor your food better! Reach out to me if you want advice or encouragement on this or any topic❤)

My mom is right by my side again, and her support and encouragement to eat healthfully and thoughtfully is actually keeping me on track for my goals, and I feel encouraged to choose vegan options. Unlike my friends from college, she doesn’t allow an easy supply of junk food to enter the house, and since I have yet to build a social network in my hometown, I haven’t been tempted to eat junk food on my own.

Case in point: my transition, though difficult and heart-wrenching at times, has created an environment where it’s easier for me to achieve the goals I have set for my diet. This in itself may seem easy to comprehend, and almost as if it doesn’t need to be stated, but I’m writing this whole article about it because I didn’t quite understand it until I experienced it myself. It is an important step on my journey to veganism to realize the extent to which outside influences can impact an individual’s goals.

It is an important concept for everyone to understand: if you’re struggling to meet goals or make changes in your life, take a step back and consider whether your friends, location, or lifestyle is having a significant impact on that goal. Why is it so hard to become vegan/lose weight/whatever you’re trying to do? What obstacles are you facing and how can you effectively manage them?

In order to continue on my path to veganism, I am going to attempt a week-long vegan meal challenge starting next week using online recipes. I’ll plan all my meals and snacks ahead of time and expose myself to as many delicious vegan options as I can — this is probably one of the most effective ways to adjust to vegan living, and I’m excited to undertake this next challenge.

Next time, I’ll report on my vegan meal week-long challenge and the delicious recipes that worked (or didn’t work!) for me. Have a vegan recommendation? Please send them to me! :)