FEATURE: Stephanie Lollis

My name is Stephanie Lollis and I'm from Dallas, TX but I currently live in Panama City, FL. I went vegan at first simply because of the weight loss benefits. After about 2 weeks of this new lifestyle I wanted to read more about why others went vegan and my eyes were opened to the slaughter and suffering of all these different animals, the sicknesses that stem from their consumption, and the degradation of our planet's resources because of these huge companies' complete disregard for the welfare of earth's creatures and intense greed. 

I became vegan by accident this year on January the 28th. My fiancé, who is active duty military, was deployed for a short 3 weeks and during that time I was here to grocery shop all for myself. I didn't feel like thawing, washing, seasoning, then cooking anything. I just wanted something that was convenient to eat. I have always loved my vegetables and fruits and they don't stand a chance here at home, so my shopping focus was set on those things. Within the first two weeks, I had begun to research others who had given up eating meat and I was taken aback by the information. After the 3 weeks were up, my fiancé came home and immediately commented on my physical transformation. So with this admiration and my new outlook on life, I committed myself fully to not eating animals or animal by-products. 

When I told my fiancé that I no longer wanted to eat meat and live a vegan lifestyle, he didn't believe me at first. He tested me in different ways such as asking me if I would cook his ramen noodles and taste them to see if they were all right; He knows that seafood was my favorite food before my decision to be vegan so he'd take me out with his friends to different seafood restaurants in the area and ask if I wanted anything on the menu. Although he has grown to accept my new lifestyle and even eats the meals that I do most of the time now, my family is completely confused by my choice. My mother asked me "Well, now what are we going to serve at your wedding?" I just laugh and tell her "Exactly what you were going to serve before, just make sure that there are plenty of fruits and veggies there for me!"

To anyone who is afraid to try veganism for fear of being too stuck up or too white for "some good fried chicken", or simply because they believe they "won't get enough protein" I'd say this is YOUR life and you are the only person that can live it. I completely understand the desire to follow tradition and the advice of those whom you look up to and respect, but they are not you. High blood pressure and diabetes are passed on down through the generations...I'm certain that this misguidance was not done out of malice of our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on. They were only teaching us as they had been taught, but now that we are living in an age of instant information, it's time for us to open our eyes and take action. Our world as we know it cannot flourish by reaping the so called benefits of legal murder, greed, and selfishness. Veganism in my opinion is for the strong willed and soft-hearted, not everyone will do it but I believe that anyone can and everyone should. We only have one planet to call home, so what will you do about that?