1. I had wanted to be vegetarian since I was in 7th grade
  2. I wanted this because I believed it would make me thinner. While today I am pleased with the size and strength of my body, while growing I was bigger than most of my peers and I hated it
  3. Like many unfortunate young ladies I thought everything about me was highly scrutinized by every person who ever saw me
  4. So I tried to give up meat like every other week, and every time I failed to abstain from it I felt like a failure
  5. Like a stupid, greedy, awful person who couldn't just stick to one dumb rule (kid me, not current me)
  6. In ninth grade I got the book Skinny Bitch and it sealed my fate. From the day I finished it I did not touch meat and I had it in my head that I should be vegan
  7. I thought this partially for my health
  8. And mostly because I wanted to be smaller
  9. Every day, every meal, I was stressed
  10. Eating anything that wasn't vegan scared me. My heart raced and my stomach twisted. I still ate it though, and felt like a failure
  11. There was also pressure from my family to just eat what I wanted. I thought they didn't understand my health consciousness
  12. All through high school I ran on the track team and wanted so much to be like my teammates. They were all lean and fast and I was slow and pudgy. Looking back at photos I was perfectly fine. But at the time I thought I was the grossest thing
  13. Wow this list is making me sad
  14. Anyway, then I got to college and had to face the dining halls
  15. My school is ranked very high for food, and I denied myself almost all of it. I was determined to be vegan and slipped constantly, every time beating myself up for doing it
  16. I would dread meal times
  17. I changed my major to nutrition because I wanted to learn more about food, and in all this stress I was genuinely interested in how food can make you healthier and live longer
  18. I met with a dietician on campus to talk about food and basically lied my ass off saying I managed really well with maintaining a vegan diet on campus
  19. I was so aware of food. What is in it, what it does to you, how it was cooked
  20. I haunted the dining services website, moving through every dining hall menu, checking the nutrition facts, and putting together meals. Then after a half hour of internal whining and tapping my feet I would go get a blueberry muffin and tell myself it's all alright
  21. I ended up frequenting Jamba Juice for all fruit smoothies and oatmeal, getting salads made with spring mix, grapes, and strawberries, and eating fruit cups. Then I would end up super hungry and unhappy and end up getting something like a muffin or candy or breadsticks from the pasta place.
  22. And then I would haaaate myself for being a faaaaaailure
  23. And I never ever lost weight
  24. Rowing was so much fun for me I didn't think of it as exercise until a day when I nearly passed out after a workout and decided to eat more carbs, which was exciting and let me comfortably eat pasta more often
  25. My desire to be competitive overrode my thoughts on food and I began to eat more and perform better
  26. But with that came stronger relationships with teammates and eating with other people, which made me nervous all over again
  27. I'd mentioned before that I was vegan, and had to uphold that. It was extremely stressful and I started eating with people less and less
  28. Walking into a dining hall was like being in a massive bountiful market where I could access only three things
  29. Junior year I moved off campus and was so excited to have my own room and a kitchen to cook in. I promised myself that in the apartment I would be vegan
  30. It went great! I loved it! Oh and I told my roommates about being vegan so now I was bound to it
  31. I ate fruit and vegetables and beans and rice and occasionally something fancier
  32. I didn't always have a lot of money so it was annoying to see recipes that looked good but took more ingredients than I could buy
  33. Slowly, slowly it became a massive stress
  34. Suddenly no food was healthy enough
  35. Everything was off limits
  36. And I lived like that for an entire year until yesterday when I was talking to a coworker about being vegetarian and vegan, and it hit me
  37. None of this had brought me happiness. None of it made me any better
  38. All it gave me was stress and self hate and pain
  39. So I'm not vegan
  40. I'm not vegetarian
  41. There are zero restrictions on my diet
  42. There are things I like and things I don't like, there are things that make me feel good and things that don't
  43. But not one thing on this planet is off limits
  44. And I feel so, so much better