Menchville Teacher Embraces Vegan Lifestyle

Spanish Teacher Julia Varona

Ashley Weiss

Spanish Teacher Julia Varona

The term Vegan refers to a person who avoids meat, eggs, cheese, dairy, honey, whey, gelatin, or anything that comes from or includes an animal by-product. They also tend to stay away from any clothing, accessory or object made from an animal. No leather, no wool, no pearls, no fur-coats. Veganism is an extreme form of vegetarianism, and though the term was coined in 1944, the concept can be traced back to ancient Indian and eastern Mediterranean societies. Courtesy of the pickiness included within the lifestyle, the term “Vegan” has dawned a sort of negative stereotype  in society of being very hipster in modern day society. Menchville Spanish teacher Julia Varona dispelled some of the common misconceptions and provided some information about the lifestyle below.

What part of the vegan life style appealed to you?

“I first began the vegetarian lifestyle when I was only 3 years old and I’ve been a vegetarian ever since. This most recent year is when I fully commited to being vegan although I do sometimes falter. My 3 primary reasons  for choosing this lifestyle, concerns to a love of animals, and also health reasons. Those are my reasons for being vegetarian, and I believe that those should also be my reasons for being vegan because I don’t want to have any hand in the processes that harm animals or treat them poorly.”

Were you raised a vegetarian?

“I was, my mom is vegetarian but my brothers and dad are not. I initially became vegetarian because I thought it was a gender thing based on my family makeup. I told my mom “I’m a girl, I don’t want to eat meat.”  Since my mother shared the same beliefs about meat, she supported me. She would always make 2 meals for dinner and support me in every way she could. That was really nice because not a lot of people have that.”

Do you get support from your whole family?

“My whole family loves animals so I think that most of them understand it at their core and appreciate it, they just haven’t made that leap.”

Are any of your friends vegan?

“No, I am the only vegan within my friend group.”

What is your favorite vegan recipe to make?

“There is a coconut lime rice recipe that I absolutely love. That is my current favorite recipe but it changes frequently though.”

What do you do when you go to a restaurant that doesn’t have vegan options?

“There is an app that you can use that helps you find what vegan options there are for restaurants that are in your area, that is definitely something that I utilize. Usually if there aren’t any vegan options in the restaurants menu, I get a salad or I speak to the waiter about what options they are able to create.”

Whats your favorite restaurant?

“I don’t know that I have a favorite restaurant, It depends on the cuisine. I really enjoy Thai food. One of the restaurants that I like to go to is Thaijindesu. I also like Nawab for Indian food.”

Since you’ve become vegan do you feel like you live a healthier lifestyle?

“On and off. Having a busy life can jeopardize your health no matter what. I’m not really home a lot to be able to put my diet at the forefront of whats going on in my life. So I tend to do some convenience meals. I’m part of a vegan meal delivery system called “Vestro,” it’s nice having access to convenience meals that are on track with my beliefs.”

Is there anything you miss about not being vegan?

“In terms of vegan vs. vegetarian, definitely pizza. Although there are vegan versions of almost everything, it’s not quite the same. I miss pizza and yogurt the most.”

Are there any myths about being vegan that you would like to address?

“I think that people assume if you’re vegan that you are unapproachable or that you’ll go off on a tyrant about your lifestyle. That’s not the case. Like I said, I don’t have any friends that are vegan. But what I found out is that me living the way I do and sharing my lifestyle with people, they tend to start asking what they can do to reduce their intake of meat which is very rewarding for me. Most people also assume that there’s nothing to eat and that you don’t get enough protein and that’s not true at all.”

What is your favorite grocery store to shop at?

“Trader Joe’s is my favorite. I like Aldis and I also like Kroger. There isn’t a store that I feel like I can’t find anything that wouldn’t be in my diet though.”

Comparing vegetarian to vegan, which lifestyle is cheaper?

“For me, it is more what you’re purchasing than the price. Like I said, I went on the track of being vegan a while ago. I gave up milk and dairy first and starting using soy or almond milk and to me thats cheaper. In terms of eliminating eggs from my diet is a matter of just not buying them. If you get flaxseed you can make vegan eggs and that’s not anymore expensive than regular eggs. Most of it is just knowing what you can and can’t buy. For example, if you were buying a packaged food item, you would have to take the extra step to look at the package and make sure that it doesn’t contain non-vegan ingredients.”

Is there any advice that you’d like to give young people about becoming vegan?

“I would say if you are at all inclined toward that lifestyle or have an interest in it, to reach out to people who are vegan also id say to find a vegan cookbook that gives you the foundation to start on to make those recipes yourself. Once you start to make a couple recipes then you start to know that there are a lot of things you can eat. Most people think that you’re just limited to salads. Once you get to see the wide variety of things you can eat and how delicious it is, that will then give you the confidence to go start making meals of your own. It’s a matter of making it a habit and sticking to it. Make sure you do your own research and not listen to negative comments from people who most likely don’t know what they’re talking about. I’ve actually gone to the doctor’s and a few years ago they ran some tests on me. The results were that my protein level was too high, so don’t ever let anyone tell you that you won’t be able to get any protein in your diet.”