Vega’s vegan lifestyle has improved her health


Ana Bello

Science teacher Macie Vega became a vegan when she was 13 and lives a healthy lifestyle. Credit: Josh Ren/The Foothill Dragon Press
Science teacher Macie Vega became a vegan when she was 13 and lives a healthy lifestyle. Credit: Josh Ren/The Foothill Dragon Press

Once she was 13 and old enough to cook, Vega changed her vegetarian lifestyle to a vegan one. Her diet consists of fruits, vegetables, grains, and a small amount of artificial meats. Like many vegans often do, she chooses to not only exempt any products from animals from her diet, but also refrain from using environmentally hazardous products.

A poll done on reasons behind Americans switching their eating choices showed resoundingly that 53% of vegetarians and vegan’s attribute their change in lifestyle to health related issues and 54% for the overall welfare of animals. For Vega, it was a combination of both. 

“When I was five I made the connection between animals and meat. I also have had issues with my hormones and chronic kidney stones and being vegan has simply helped my health problems,” she said.

Vega went on a 30 day juice fast and found through her blood work results that there was a balance in her hormones and overall made her feel great. While for her the juice fasting provided her with balance and energy, she recommends to go about the process safely.

“Talk to other vegans and do lots research before trying it out. It really has helped me out to even just know other people who are vegan so you do not feel so alone in your lifestyle choices,” she said.

Vega finds the myth of vegan food being expensive to be inaccurate. Some of her favorite places to go to are Trader Joe’s, farmers markets, ethnic food markets, and Lassens for particular ingredients. Another favorite is Fresh and Easy, which has GMO free products and several grab and go options. Vega’s top local choice for restaurants is Mary’s Secret Garden, offering a range of dishes filled with fresh and delicious ingredients.

“It’s really easy for new vegans to fall into the trap of eating heavily processed fake cheeses and meats because it’s comforting and familiar,” she said. “My diet mainly consists of grains and veggies and is much healthier and cheaper.”

Being a vegan also does not mean Vega and others are limited to just fruits and veggies. Some of Vega’s guilty pleasures are vegan cookies from Trader Joe’s, coconut milk, and skittles which are no longer made with gelatin.

Aside from her guilty pleasure’s Vega finds ways to supply her body with a wide range of options for protein. Vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds are the most common and the easiest to include in every meal. Protein is associated with being primarily in animal products, but for example, 5 ounces of tofu already has 12 grams of protein and 1 cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams.

A concern for vegans is also finding sources of complete protein. While these are in animal products primarily, a combination of two ingredients such as rice and beans, or tofu and lentils fulfills a complete protein. Dishes that have complete proteins for example can be a peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread or stir fry with rice and tofu.

Vegan diets also are found to be free of cholesterol and low in saturated fat. Even though vegans do not eat cheese or drink milk, they can still fulfill their calcium requirements through eating dark green vegetables, such as kale, and drinking calcium enriched soy milk and orange juice.

When choosing to go out to eat with friends vegans do not have to be limited to only eating at vegan restaurants such as Mary’s Secret Garden. Orders can be customized to be without any animal products. Dishes to try when eating out can be foccacia bread (pizza without cheese), bean tacos without lard, veggie burgers, spaghetti, curry, minestrone or lentil soup, Chinese vegetable stir fry,and many others.

Choices and combinations of ingredients are endless for vegans and they still can provide their bodies with nutritious food. Vega is proof of the lifestyle choices she makes daily and is feeling better for it. 

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