The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Vegan Teens Survival in a City

Posted on August 15, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Davin Cheyenne, VRG Intern

High skyscrapers, great sightseeing, friendly faces, and loads of work opportunities is a major attraction for teenagers living in a city. However, this has its challenges, mainly the health of one’s body. Because we are always on the go and city living is expensive, many teenagers struggle with balancing health and our checkbooks.
Some complaints I get from my peers about going vegan is that there are no quick and filling vegan options readily available. The social settings they are around only offer animal-based meals. Lastly the cost (for example, the price of a tomato compared to a bag of chips is roughly the same price in many stores), can be a deal breaker to many.
So what’s a teen to do in these situations, especially if you are living in a home with meat eaters, like yours truly?

First, take a deep breath…are you breathing? With a little motivation and preparation these obstacles can be tackled. Next, list the foods and meals that you love, even if it is meat-based (like wings and pot-roast). List it! Then make a list of the reasons why you want to be vegan. Doing this will push you to look, think, and create the lifestyle you want for yourself.

For me, I listed the two reasons I wanted to become vegan: health reasons and animals. I wanted to lose weight and lower my risk for family related health issues. Also, I love companion animals; but I realize that farm, and wild animals are beings as well who deserve love.

Second, research filling vegan meals; there is a wide variety of ingredients to choose from. I suggest opting for items such quinoa, rice, tofu, hummus, and beans. Many grocery stores (such as Aldi’s or Safeway), carry these ingredients for reasonable prices. These ingredients can make enough meal portions to eat throughout the week.
Some items that I buy weekly are bananas, oranges, grapes, spinach, tomatoes, bread, and occasionally vegan deli slices and cheeses. Monthly, I stock up on rice, beans, spices, nuts, and seeds.

A typical day of meals in high school for me: breakfast, oats mixed with frozen berries and soy milk; for lunch a bowl of rice with beans, veggies, and a salad to top it; and for dinner a pot cooked meal, like soup or veggie pot-roast.

For me, snacking was a big thing. I had very little time to eat between traveling to classes and heading home from band practice. So, I chose fruits and veggies as cost effective snacks. Fruits (such as apples, oranges), were easy for me to separate in plastic bags and take with me. Bags of nuts and seeds or cucumbers and tomatoes were options when snacking on the go. It was perfect to keep me full, and most importantly cost effective.

Being a teenager put me in the position to start branching out into many social settings. There were my friends in class, in my after school clubs, weekend outings, family events, and church. For many teenagers like me, eating vegan was difficult for my friends and family to accept. I personally know what it’s like to have friends who eat completely differently from me and find it hard to choose vegan-friendly or places with vegan options. We just all want to spend time together without fretting over food options. For this dilemma, come prepared! Reading the menu and reviews from vegan customers before arriving to the restaurant ensures you will not become the friend watching everyone else eat due to the limiting options available. I like to research restaurants that are popular in my area (Applebee’s, Red Robin, Subway, etc.). Then, I call to ensure those options are actually there or use online information to guide me. When I get there, I ask the waiter for the veggie option. The world of veganism is becoming so popular that many fast food chains, restaurants, and fun places (like amusement and sports parks) are beginning to serve vegan-friendly options!

Finally, I want to touch on lack of motivation. It is challenging to live in a fast paced lifestyle in a limited veggie environment. Sometimes it’s easier to set aside one’s own morals and go with the flow to not become the outcast. However, I encourage you to be the change you want to see. I know that sounds cliché but this is coming from someone who went vegan in a public high school where eating vegan was not common. While everyone else ate Cheetos, I ate tomatoes which really set me apart for a while. It wasn’t until I started losing weight and feeling and looking happier and healthier that people started asking me how they could be healthier too. Trust the process: you might be the odd one out, but you can be the face of change!

I hope this helps! Stay focused and be prepared, my friends.

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