Plant Power: Lactose intolerance leads senior to transferring to vegan diet


Taking the health world by storm, the popularity of plant-based diets have increased immensely amongst young adults. Driven by anti-animal cruelty as well as numerous health and environmental benefits, veganism has become one of the most adapted lifestyles.

For one senior student, veganism became a positive aspect of her lifestyle and eating habits after being unexpectedly diagnosed with lactose intolerance.

Senior Summer Pieters said, “Over a year ago I found out that I was severely lactose intolerant. This forced me to rearrange my diet, and for the first time in my life really think about all the food that I was putting into my body. In my research for going dairy-free, I came across a lot of info about the benefits for veganism. It convinced me to make the decision to cut more than dairy out of my diet, but also eggs and meat.”

Though Pieter’s intolerance to dairy pushed her into learning and adapting veganism, the beginning of her lifestyle change did not go without a few barriers.

“I have been vegan for almost a full year now, so I am accustomed to this way of life. The first few months of veganism I had a really hard adjustment period where I was struggling to learn to plan meals, to cook with only vegan ingredients and to find foods I can eat at restaurants. To this day, it can be hard and exhausting. I have days where I only eat tortilla chips because I forgot to make a grocery list of the food I wanted. However, for the most part I have adapted well,” Pieters said.

Despite several obstacles when adapting veganism, Pieters remained motivated with an abundance of benefits her body rewarded her with.

“I have so much energy! Also, veganism has taught me to love my body. I know I am eating foods that are good for my body, so I see myself in a more positive light and give myself more credit.”

The rewards of veganism stretch farther than personal benefits. Veganism actively supports rights of animals and goes against cruelty and environmentally-unfriendly procedures used by meat and dairy industries.

Pieters said, “The anti-cruelty was certainly a factor in my decision to not use animal products. I have learned a lot about the awful conditions that major meat companies put their animals through, which makes the animals very sick and limits their quality of life. This information, plus more, has made meat seem much less appetizing to me, and I couldn’t go back to eating a lot of animal products even if I wanted to.”

Similar to most diets, finding information of veganism is as easy as typing in a quick search on the Internet. In addition, the popularity of veganism has resulted in a plethora of educational documentaries, books as well as YouTube videos.

Pieters said, “Google it! So many websites give a lot of info about veganism and the many benefits. Netflix has some very eye opening documentaries about veganism and food in general. Personally, I learned about the dairy and meat industry from books I had found online, reading the nutrition labels and thorough research.”

Regardless of the large amounts of long-term benefits, for many, worries concerning lack of tasteful food acts as one of the main reasons for refusing the vegan lifestyle.

“So many people turn down veganism because they don’t want to give up their hamburgers, cheese and so much more. After a year of veganism, I have found some of my favorite foods that I would have never found without making the switch. For example, my mom makes a really good green bean coconut curry. It is basically a stir fry of vegetables with curry, coconut milk and garlic over rice. Seriously — so delicious. Also, I make a vegan lasagna in a skillet. Yes, yes, yes. It is so good,” Pieters said.

Though veganism may seem intimidating at first, anyone is capable of making the the switch and beginning a healthy journey for themselves and the animals.

Pieters said, “Ease into it. Start off simple by eliminating one thing at a time. Do a week without eggs, then the next week eliminate poultry and eggs, then eliminate all meat and eggs, then eliminate all meat and eggs and dairy. Be open-minded about the recipes you are trying. It might take a while to figure the vegan lifestyle out. Overall, have patience, and your body and mind will reward you.”

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.