I have reached the point in my life where I feel that veganism is no longer working out for me. I became vegan six years ago when I was thirteen after a bad breakup that left me feeling lousy about myself. I meant for it to be a temporary change. My family ate like complete garbage and I couldn't stand the food they gave me. It was making me fat. So I changed my diet. My cousin said I wouldn't last a week. I lasted six years (and counting, I haven't changed yet).

But now, where does it end? My first few years of being vegan I was excited by all the new foods I got to try. It kept me in check of not eating junk food. I didn't even know vegan ice cream existed for the first year in. Now that so many companies are making vegan junk that's readily available in the grocery store two minutes from my house, I find myself grabbing for it more often. For me, it wasn't ever really about animal welfare. That was such a question of ethics that I didn't feel qualified to answer. It was about eating healthier. Being vegan was a huge step up from what I used to be. Now, it's a step down from what I want to be.

I was originally planning on incorporating some meats back into my diet when I moved for college about a year ago (not milk tho, never milk again). Then I took a class on food agriculture. Meat production is what's killing our environment. After experiencing all the facts and data, I couldn't rationalize eating meat again. So I didn't. And I still don't want to harm the environment in that way. But I can't do this anymore.

I thought about how good I felt when I first went vegan, and I don't think it's because I let up on meat. I basically stopped any and all junk food and massively increased my intake of vegetables. Over time, as I can't keep up on iron and B12 and calcium, I've become incredibly lethargic. If I have to wait too long to eat my meal at work, I start to become shaky and dizzy. This is because the food I eat doesn't have enough to sustain me. To get full on a vegan diet, you have to eat copius amounts of vegetables or carbs, and the carbs are making me fat again. I went on a low carb diet that I unfortunately can no longer afford, due to vegan meats being so costly. It's easy to be a broke vegan, but it's rice and beans over and over that never truly satiate you.

Most importantly, I have never pictured myself being vegan long term. It was a solution to a problem I no longer have, which was eating a better diet when living with my unhealthy parents. I live on my own now. In about a year I hope to move in with my boyfriend and cook him dinner every night. I never wanted to raise my kids vegan. I didn't even want to be a college vegan. I dream of cooking amazing roast chicken and marinated steak and beef wellington and other complicated dishes for my family. I don't want this flavorless life anymore. It's negatively impacting my health because my appetite is so screwed.

So, why not go buy some chicken and eat it? It's so much more complicated than that. Everyone would judge me. Everyone would have something to say. I have a nasty past with eating disorders and I literally could not take the constant comments on my food that people already give me. Then there's my limits that I don't think my family would respect. I will always be a restaurant vegan. I have no interest in eating meat that isn't ethically sourced and I will NEVER reincorporate milk into my diet. Ever. Not even when I'm pregnant. I don't see my family respecting that. "Ooh, Mallory isn't vegan anymore, I'll make mac and cheese with ham pieces for dinner!" That's what I fear. If they know I'm vegan they know what not to do. The one thing I could eat unethically sourced is fish. I did a lot of research in my class about what harms the environment and fishing is not the main enemy.

It's been tied to my identity for so long and I hate it. I don't want to be known as the "vegan friend". I just want to exist as a normal person. There really isn't a good way out without judgement. I still care about the planet. I still will make vegan meals for half the week, or incorporate very small amounts of meat to fill me up (ie- half a sausage in my jambalaya instead of an entire can of beans that leaves me hungry at the end). I only get one life and I want to live it comfortably.