As you guys know, about a year ago, February 28th, I became a vegan. I gave up meats, dairy, and any products that were not plant-based. As I’ve embarked on this path it’s made me realize society has influenced our desire and subsequent need for material things. I successfully transitioned in one week from eating everything to eating only things produced by plants. Society tells us it’s unhealthy. Society tells us it shouldn’t be done and we need meat, dairy, and everything else mass-produced to live a healthy and successful life. But it’s just not true.

I have had my blood tested and gone to the doctor several times to make sure I am healthy, and have passed every test with flying colors. I, among countless others, have successfully debunked this myth that being vegan is not something humans were meant to do. Literature says that not being lactose intolerant is a genetic mutation that developed because human beings insisted on drinking cows milk. Cows milk is meant for baby cows, just like breast milk is meant for baby humans. We don’t drink breast milk once we grow-up, and cows don’t drink milk from other cows once they grow-up. It’s statistics like these that have engaged many in re-evaluating our ways of life and general consumption.

Big business has fooled us into thinking the only ways to get what we need are from foods and beverages that they provide. But now, with the world’s environment going to hell in a hand basket, to save the next generation we must do something different. This is no longer the time where you can say, “Well by the time this happens I’ll be dead,” because that is no longer true. Change needs to happen and it needs to happen now, and by us. We must take responsibility for our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren. We can change this world. We just have to realize it’s OURS, and no other generation’s responsibility to get the ball rolling.

Through becoming a vegan, and learning to cut out certain foods and supply myself with exactly what my body needs to be happy and healthy, I’ve also begun exploring this idea in other parts of my life. Minimalism is the idea that you only have what you need. You only buy what you absolutely love, and you only keep things that bring you true joy. I have, for a long time, had a love-hate relationship with clothing and fashion. Each year I find myself staring at my closet and wondering when is it going to be time for me to give this stuff away? A positive quality of mine is that I do keep things until I absolutely have to throw them away: they rip, or break, or are just plain unwearable. So, it’s not that I buy a lot, but I keep a lot. Over the last ten years I haven’t changed shoe size or height and have barely grown anywhere else. I still have jeans from freshman year of high school, because they still fit and I still love them. The problem is that 10 years worth of clothing, shoes, and accessories tends to add up. I have way more than I need or can even wear.

The Challenge

What I am challenging myself to do this year is to go through my closet once a month for the next 12 months and pick out at least 5 items that I no longer wear, and “no longer bring me joy” – As Gilmore Girls would say. Over the next year I should have given away at least 60 items in my closet.

I challenge you, ladies and gentleman, to declutter your lives as well. Provide both your body and your mind with only what makes you happy. Stop living by the societal norms that we are worth more the more we possess, and start living for you and what you enjoy. Find love and happiness within, and stop looking for it amongst other people and things. This year and every year to come are going to be the years where we change the world! They are going to be the years where we challenge both ourselves and others to just Be You. in both the happiest, healthiest, and most sustainable ways possible, so who’s with me!?

My only goal is to make a difference, increase self-acceptance and self-esteem in youth to young adults. Being young is hard, trying to find your way is even harder, and with today's culture being yourself has become a fuzzy concept. Join me as I navigate my way through, fashion, fitness, and the overall struggles of growing up. Wear what you want. Do what you want. Be Different. And NEVER be afraid to 'Be You.™'.

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