Rushing a sorority.
As I entered college, I was unbelievably excited to rush a sorority. My mom was in a sorority and absolutely loved it. My god-mothers are two of her sorority sisters, so needless to say, her sorority experience was extremely impactful. Because she had such an incredible experience within the Greek system, I sought to create my own.
While I wanted to rush, I had no idea what sororities even existed on Cal Poly’s campus. I didn’t realize how rush is different at a school such as Cal Poly where Greek life makes up about 18% of the student population, vs. a southern school, for example, where Greek life is much more prominent. I was unaware of basically everything regarding sororities except for the fact that I knew wanted to rush one.
As I’ve joined a sorority and become more involved in Greek life, I have become more aware of the stigmas and stereotypes regarding Greek life and sororities specifically.
Sororities and “sorority girls” in general are stereotyped a lot, and specific, larger national sororities are targeted individually. We all receive a lot of pretty unfair assumptions about our morals, authenticity, and priorities.
Whether you decide to rush or not, it is important to remember that within a sorority are individual girls, with individual stories, and individual hearts.
There will always be not so nice people everywhere you go, in every club you join, in any school you go to. Groups are simply easy to target. If one knows a "not so nice girl" in a sorority, they are more likely to label that sorority accordingly, especially if they are not involved in Greek life.
However, this article isn’t about these stereotypes or how to combat them. Combating them will come by disregarding them, being your own true self, and continuing to spread positive change within the community.
This article is about if rushing is worth it. Should you rush a sorority?
The short answer is yes. The slightly longer answer is absolutely yes. The longer answer is this…
You should only rush a sorority if you are going to go into it without prior judgements and with an open mind. Every sorority is going to have its own reputation because most girls that are invited to join are going to have similar values. However, if you choose a sorority based off of the reputation you think a sorority has based off of what other people have told you, you are preventing yourself from making your own decision based off of who you have the most genuine conversations with. Once you move past any initial assumptions, the facade that you’ve created in your head will begin to fade, and that is when real connections are made.
Very specifically laid out, you should join a sorority because…
While these 10 reasons are extremely compelling, (hehe) and there are so many more not listed, I also think it is important to address a big reason why people tell others not to rush: “because by rushing you are merely buying your friends.” I can contest that yes, a reason I joined my sorority is because I wanted an opportunity to meet more girls whose values aligned with mine. However, I did not pay for my friends. I paid to be a part of an organization that makes positive change through philanthropy, sisterhood events, and so much more. I am helping provide funds for these events and opportunities to create this change.
Just because you are in a sorority does not guarantee lifelong friends. If you act meanly towards your sisters, chances are they will not want to surround themselves with you, as would any girl not in a sorority. Just because you join a group of girls in a sorority does not mean that you lose your identity. It is up to you to make those friends for yourself by being kind and open. Being in a sorority brings you together with a ton of girls who are both different and just like you! It provides opportunity for friendship.
Sororities are “worth it” if you take these opportunities and run with them.
I am proud to be a sorority girl. I value deep connections, laughter, honesty, and sisterhood. Rushing can be intimidating for sure. However, when you know you are in the right place, the shoes you’re wearing and how you look truly won’t matter to you anymore. You will be too lost in amazing conversations with your future sisters to care:)
If I’ve learned one thing the past two quarters, it is to listen to your body when it is trying to tell you something. Sometimes our bodies act and feel in ways that other people may not understand. And that is okay. You need to not be discouraged by a negative test result or rolling eyes at the sound of you feeling a certain way. Keep persevering until you figure out the answers you are seeking.
When people are sad, we often say that changing their mentality will help shape how they look at events, making them happier. While there is absolute truth to the idea that having a positive mentality helps positively shape the outcome of an event, sometimes a person’s mentality is not what is inducing sadness. Telling them this will only make them frustrated.
I know how it feels to be sad and not know why. It feels as though something is living through you, portraying this muted version of an otherwise peppy, outgoing gal. For a long time I just accepted this as my new truth. I listened to all of those people telling me that I just needed to accept change and think more positively. I accepted the fact that I just wasn’t able to do that.
This brings me back to the idea that we must listen to our bodies and not be discouraged by outside sources. After multiple tests done, I found that not only was I extremely deficient in major vitamins and nutrients that are crucial for maintaining drive and happiness, but I had multiple parasites in my stomach that were known for inducing depressive symptoms.
I am not sharing this to tell everyone that they may have parasites or be extremely deficient in crucial nutrients. I am sharing this because it is a prime example of how if we feel off, we need to trust that initial instinct. We need to be understanding of ourselves and not blame ourselves up for feeling this way. It is okay to feel sad. It is okay to feel off.
It also is a prime example of how eating properly or lack-thereof, can really affect one’s mental health. In college, it can be hard to maintain a healthy diet, regardless if one has food allergies. I urge you all, if you are feeling more sad than normal or just “off,” to reflect on what variety of foods you have been consuming. You don’t need to know the nutrient benefits of all foods to know if you have been consuming a balanced diet. A balanced diet is crucial to creating a balanced life, mentally and physically.
Here are few, non-medical, things I like to do both when I am down and to prevent myself from feeling down.
1. Prioritize eating
Even though college brings a lot of fun social events and academic strain, it is extremely important to not leave food for the last minute. I am a strong believer that food nourishes both the body and soul. If you are not eating regularly, not eating proper food, your mental health will take a toll. Prioritize when and what you eat.
2. Try to find variety in food
Going off what I wrote above, try hard not to eat the same exact food every day. While it may be convenient, if you eat the same food too much, your body may become intolerant to it or your taste buds may begin to just not like it as much. Also, by switching up your diet a little, it will ensure you are getting a different set of nutrients that you may not have gotten from the previous foods.
3. When you walk, keep your phone in your pocket or bag
When I walk to class or around campus, I usually have my headphones in listening to music or a podcast. However, when I have my actual phone in my hand while I listen, I find myself clicking through social media instead of looking out around me. I’ve realized that my phone in my hand while I walk makes me feel more anxious than when it’s in my pocket or bag. So, if you are walking and listening to something on your phone, try to not walk holding it.
4. If you are a freshman, try to stay in the dorms as little as possible
After being sick for so long, I’ve come to resent my room. It brings back this sense of sadness;
I find it restraining. When I am in my room, I usually climb right into my bed and then am left alone with anxious thoughts. It feels lonely, which can perpetuate that initial feeling of sadness. My advice is to avoid being alone in your dorm room as much as possible and instead be social with people or be alone in a less restraining environment, like outside. When you are in your room though, keep the blinds open so you can at least see outside and have natural light peeking in.
5. Be outdoors as much as possible- if the weather permits
Going off of #4, instead of being in your dorm room, be outside! (If weather permits, of course.) I am blessed to go to school in a place with lots of amazing sunlight. Being outside, even when it is cloudy, makes me feel less restrained and more free. So go outside and do homework or just sit and listen to music! It’s crazy how much this can positively affect mental health.
6. Invest in an oil diffuser
Because I am in a dorm room and candles are not allowed, I reluctantly purchased an oil diffuser so my room would still smell good. This purchase has been one of my best. My oil diffuser has quickly become one of my absolute favorite things ever because not only do you not have to worry about accidentally burning something down, but I truly think the smells from the oils last longer than those from a candle. Before bed I like to put in lavender and eucalyptus, and when I wake up I put in an orange-y scent. The lavender is very soothing and the orange ensures you get ready in a yummy, citrusy smelling room.
So far, these are the six tips that I can think of that have helped me feel happier. Mental health is a complicated concept to delve into because of all the factors that make it up. Someone could be struggling due to a genetic reasoning, while another person may be dealing with more environmental catalysts. And it is okay that little environmental changes may not make much of a difference in mental health to some people. While these tips have helped me in some way or another, I am also taking countless vitamin supplements and medications that will kill the parasites inside my stomach.
The bottom line is that if you are ever feeling sad, or not like yourself, to listen to yourself and forgive yourself. It is okay to feel these feelings. One of the most empowering and freeing things I am learning how to do is forgive myself for not always feeling the best. Feeling anxious and sad can be really hard. It’s even harder when you put the blame on yourself.
Every body is different, much like everybody is different. You are on your own path with your own body that you have been blessed to be born with. Listen to it and be kind to it.
And remember that you are never alone:)
I’ve been going through my head the last three months, trying to find the right advice and the best article topic to share with you all. I’ve realized that the reason I haven’t been putting out content is because I feel as though at this point in my life, I have no advice I can give that I myself can prove induces positive change. It’s been hard to catch my breath long enough to look around me and find solutions.
The last we talked I was entering my winter quarter of school. I had had a rough transition to college and reflected in an article on how I intended to change my eating habits so that I would be properly nourishing my body. I entered winter quarter and cooked almost every one of my meals for about three weeks. I ate a variation of the the same exact meal for probably 95% of total meals, but I was determined to get food in my body regardless of favorability.
Starting at week four, I began to get increasingly more and more sick. Starting at this point, for about about two months after, I had a fever ranging from 102-105 every other day. I ate very little, and when I did I was never satisfied. My stomach hurt every single day, as the list of foods I could no longer tolerate grew substantially.
To this day, I can now no longer digest gluten, dairy, meat, eggs, corn, soy, potato, tomato, carrot, celery, multiple different oils, and any dyes, among other things.
After multiple ER visits and too much school missed, I decided it would be best to take a partial medical leave of absence from Cal Poly so I could get more testing done at UCLA and fully heal at home. All of my tests came back negative, and while blessed with these results, I am again left with no answers like how I was when all of these intolerances developed four years ago.
I believe that my physical sickness was a byproduct of the war going on inside my stomach. The minute I went home and was eating fresh steamed vegetables and clean foods, my stomach pain subsided and my cold-like virus went away. When my stomach is healthy, I feel healthy.
My issue is that I cannot stay at home forever. I just got back to school for spring quarter, and I am terrified. I have never been so sick in my life than I was during winter quarter, and there is no way of knowing if that will happen again. I still can’t eat just as much and cooking food is still just as difficult due to being in a dorm.
Now that I am healthier, I have been spending a lot of time reflecting. I have been thinking about this blog, one that I started when I was in a hopeless place four years ago. Four years ago I found comfort in writing and giving advice because it made me feel less out of control and alone. It gave me power over how I viewed myself and my intolerances. It allowed me to view myself as a strong woman who was confident and determined despite challenges being thrown her way. I used those challenges for good, using them as doors to help people.
In present day, I’ve been having a hard time thinking of these challenges as doors, and instead have been viewing them as nuisances. Because of this, I have been having trouble finding the right advice to give to anyone in a situation similar to mine. I have been having trouble giving myself advice. I’ve cemented my doors shut and again feel out of control and alone. I know what I need to do, but I don’t know the steps I need to take to be successful as someone with food allergies living in a dorm.
This brings me back to why I started this blog initially. There was no outlet that I could turn to in a time of desperation such as this. So I decided to start my own. I have decided to do the same thing now. No, I am not going to start a new blog, (involuntaryvegan is too good of a name to think of another one), but I am going to commit myself to rediscovering this one.
My hope is that if anyone out there is experiencing something similar to me, you realize that you are not alone. Although I can’t yet give step by step instructions on how to be fully healthy in college with allergies, I hope that you can learn something from hearing my story. Life is life, and life is not always easy or fair. It helps to know that you aren’t going through it alone.
Please know that you are never alone.
If you have any questions or stories similar to mine, please leave a comment or send me an email. I would love to hear anything you guys want to share and answer any questions:)
Hi. Wow, it’s been a minute. I want to thank you all for being patient while I worked on adjusting to college, shifting my eating habits, and prioritizing my mental health.
The transition to college was not an easy one for me. In fact, it may have been one of the most physically and mentally challenging experiences of my life.
Back in September I was ready for my journey ahead. While l understood prior to leaving for college that my food intolerances would make my transition difficult, I underestimated the effect not eating would have on my health and well being.
Tip number one, never underestimate the power of food.
The first quarter of college can be lonely. You are starting over, beginning a new journey full of twists and turns. You live in a new place and eat the food they provide (if you can), you make new friends, and you call your teachers professors instead of teachers (crazy, I know).
While all of this was a bit of a culture shock, I tried not to let it phase me.
As time went on, my health began to decline. I felt tired all the time, and I mean all the time. I could hardly open my eyes in the morning, I could barely walk up the stairs to my dorm room, and I borderline heaved when I walked up hills. I even developed a cough that lasted for two solid months, two months! My head hurt, and I was always dizzy.
During these first two-ish months of college I cried a lot. And I am not ashamed of it. It is not that I had given up; I kept telling myself over and over again that I would begin to feel better, that things would get better, and they just never did. My poor physical health eventually took a toll on my mental health, and there was a period of time when I would wake up, look at myself in the mirror, and not even recognize the girl staring back.
Everyone told me the reason I wasn’t feeling well was because it was my first quarter in college, a time period when “everyone gets sick.” While there is absolute truth to this, I did not understand why week after week I could not seem to get better.
It was not until I completed an assignment for a nutrition class that I began to realize a major catalyst of my pain.
For our assignment, we had to track everything we ate for three consecutive days. We then needed to plug all of the foods we consumed into a nutrition calculator online that would highlight our nutrient deficiencies, toxicities, and perfections.
Plugging my food intake into the nutrition calculator online forced me to open my eyes to how I had been neglecting my body. Not only had I consumed less that 1500 calories each day, but I was deficient in every single vitamin and mineral with the exception of Vitamin C. Vitamin C came up as a toxicity.
Looking at my results and seeing how severe some of my deficiencies were, I was shocked. How had I let myself become so unhealthy? Eating a rice cake two meals a day does not supply enough nutrients to sustain anyone. Of course I was sick and dizzy every day. I was barely eating!
It is hard to be dairy free at college, and it is hard to be gluten free at college. It is hard to be egg free at college, and it is hard to be meat free at college. It is even hard to be corn free at college. But all together? It truly feels impossible.
The sad thing is that even after discovering all of this, I didn’t know how to fix it. That passion for food, for this blog, for cooking... it was dissipating into forgotten smoke before my eyes, and I had no mental strength left to fix it. I was watching my passions disappear.
Every morning I woke up and told myself, “It will get better,” but then I did nothing to try and make it better.
No wonder nothing ever changed.
Do I blame my rough college transition solely on my inability to eat food on campus? No. But it did play a really large part.
I don’t really blame my rough quarter on any one thing in particular. I think that it happened for a reason, like most things do.
I’m able to see this now, as I’ve been home for a few days and had some time to reflect. Yeah, sometimes life is rough. Sometimes life is really rough. But that doesn’t mean that it will stay like that forever. Like my Papa always said, “Never confuse a rough day for a bad day.”
I believe that sharing my story and being vulnerable is a good start to turn this all around. Not only will it help me, but hopefully it can help someone else in a similar situation feel less alone.
It can be scary to be vulnerable and let people in. Especially when social media makes it out to seem like everyone around you is thriving and living their best lives. That said, I need to be able to be open and genuine in order to both receive support and help support.
So, all of that said, what am I going to do now? (1) I am going to spend my winter break cooking and devising a whole list of easy recipes that I can replicate while at school. You better believe I am going to have a game plan going back into school so that I eat three solid meals a day. (2) I am going to make sure I stay writing. Even writing this post brings me so much happiness because I am doing something I love so much, something I really missed. And (3) I am going to make all my friends’ kitchens back at college my own.
I am going to take this time I have over the next month home and get my life back on track. I am ready for whatever life throws my way.
Everyone needs to start somewhere. I am starting here.
Eating a well balanced diet in college is hard. Eating food (at all) with food restrictions in college sometimes seems near impossible, let alone eating a well balanced diet. I often find myself snacking more than eating real meals. Now, I am not saying that the foods I am going to list down below are the healthiest. They are, however, foods that have gotten me through the last month and a half of school.
The main purpose of this blog is for me to give advice to other people with similar circumstances to mine. I felt hopeless when I developed my allergies, because I had no outlet to turn to for advice. Because my life now revolves heavily around college, I have decided to do a “College” thread, similar to my “Veganism” thread. If any of you have suggestions as to what other articles you’d like to see, please comment down below or on one of my Instagram posts!!
Without further ado, here are my vegan, gluten free dorm room essentials.
Refrigerator / Freezer Items:
Supplements / Vitamins:
Not vegan or gluten free foods, but kinda food-related things I thought of:
I left for college about two weeks ago. This means that I haven’t been to Soul Cycle in over 14 days. I am having serious withdrawals.
Now, I know this sounds dramatic. But bear with me, and at the end of this article, I hope you will understand the true impact SoulCycle has had on me.
I was a swimmer for a long time. However, after I got sick my freshman year of high school and had to stop swimming competitively, I actively sought for another outlet that would bring me that same joy.
After trying out many different activities, my two favorite being Zumba and Cardio Barre, I still felt like I was missing something. Don’t get me wrong, Zumba and Cardio Barre were fun, in fact, the only reason I know how to dance is because of Zumba. That said, I knew something was missing…
until my friend dragged me to Soul Cycle.
Unlike most SoulCycle fanatics, I did not have a memorable first experience at SoulCycle. I showed up late to my first class, struggled to get on a bike, and had to pee the whole time. I left having little intention of coming back.
I don’t remember what prompted me to go back to SoulCycle years later. All I remember is one specific class that completely shifted my perspective. However, before I can share that story, I need to give you some background as to how the structure of Soul Cycle works.
Soul Cycle is an indoor cycling workout class where you ride to the beat of the music. There are no monitors or tracking devices. There is no competitive aspect. It is a completely individual experience that is enhanced by the positive atmosphere that SoulCycle instructors cultivate.
Each class is 45 minutes with the exception of hour-long SoulSurvivor classes. The class starts with x amount of songs. The amount of songs depends on how long each song is and how many remixes the instructor chooses to include. Once that amount of songs is played, there is a water break. This water break is followed by a few songs dedicated to arms. After arms, there is a single song that plays, and the instructor usually goes silent. The lights are turned off, and each rider is able to have their own individual experience. They can ride however they want. After the song’s conclusion, there is a final song, and then class is over.
Now that you know how each class is structured, let me get back to my story.
I showed up to a class one day when I was having a really bad day. I strapped on my shoes and climbed onto the bike. I really let myself feel the music and took the instructors inspirational messages to heart. At the start of the individual song, I closed my eyes. A spoken song blared through the speakers, sounding like a speech. To be completely honest, I couldn’t even tell you what the exact content of the speech was. What I can tell you though is that it brought tears to my eyes. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment in time.
During that last song of the class, I rode hard. I felt really good. And that’s when I was hooked.
I’m a big believer that are minds and bodies are inarguably connected. If our minds are healthy and in a good spot, we will do things that make our bodies feel good too. And vise versa.
What makes SoulCycle unique is that is doesn’t just focus on the physical aspect of working out. Classes are filled with positivity not just between the rider and instructor but between the riders themselves. As riders we are encouraged to high five our neighbors and let out an occasional “wooo” when the workout gets challenging. The energy inside the room is palpable. It is truly incredible.
Imagine riding really hard, really fast, while doing pushups, and having your instructor yell over the music, “Keep going Gabby, you got this!” I can assure you, if you go enough, the instructors will shout you out. It is truly the best feeling, and this positive reinforcement makes you want to work harder.
Imagine wanting to give up and hearing, “You’re unstoppable as long as you don’t give up. Keep going!” or “There’s a reason your windshield is bigger than your rear view. Keep riding!” I know that on their own, these quotes don’t seem extraordinarily important. That said, when you are having a rough day or are doubting yourself, they can be exactly the thing to put that pep back in your step and prompt you to work harder than you thought you could.
Quotes that I have heard in SoulCycle have honestly become some of my life mantras, and for that reason I feel obligated to share them with all of you! Here are a few of my favorites:
Don’t stretch yourself so much that you break for someone else.
Don’t wait for life to be perfect before you start enjoying it.
Welcome change like an old friend and soon that’s what it’ll be.
If you take anything from this article, it is that SoulCycle is just a good vibe. While it is a hard workout physically, it also provides mental healing. I personally never feel better than right when I finish a hard workout, when sweat is pouring out of every pore in my body, and all I can do is smile, knowing that I worked my butt off to get there :)
P.S. If you ever want to try out SoulCycle, I highly recommend going to Cat (She teaches at Calabasas) or Joey (He teaches at Westlake).
When I was younger, I went to baseball games with my family all the time. I got all dressed up in my blue and white and laughed with my cousins as we sat side by side eating Dodger Dogs. Looking back, the limp hotdogs did not look extremely appealing, however, back then, they were exactly what we wanted. Now, being vegan, I no longer have the luxury of ordering a plain Dodger Dog with ketchup. In fact, I don’t think that I can eat anything at Dodger Stadium. Does this mean I should stop going to Dodger games? No! Not at all. It just means that I need to do a little preparation beforehand.
While LA itself is extremely accommodating to people who need food accommodations, its amusement parts and sporting events aren’t. There is good reason for this. Big events like a Dodger game or Disneyland attract thousands of people. In order to feed all of these people, these events need to serve food that is both quick, easy, and satisfies the nostalgic crave of its consumers.
These people working events don’t have time to replace the Cesar dressing with balsamic, take off the croutons and cheese, and add vegetables. They have pre-made Cesar salads ready for purchase and want to give you your food as fast as possible so they can get to the next person in line. This system ensures the most minimal amount of chaos possible. It is a perfected science.
So, as a vegan in LA, it can be challenging to eat at attractions. It can be especially hard if you are also gluten free or have another food limitation. That said, this lack of available food doesn’t mean that you can’t still have fun. It could mean though that you may have to sacrifice a filling meal for a good time out.
For my grad nite night this past year, my school took us to Universal Studios. Universal Studios is an amusement park with active movie lots on site. It attracts tons of tourists and lots of fun rides. The bottom line is that there was no way that my allergies would prevent me from going.
Knowing I would have nothing to eat, I made myself a big dinner prior to leaving. This meal kept me satisfied for a while, however, we were gone from 4pm-2pm. Needless to say I was really hungry coming home. I wasn’t allowed to bring a bag into the park otherwise I would have packed myself a smaller, second dinner to take with me.
Going off of this, my first tip is to eat prior to leaving for an event. Even if there is a possibility that you will be able to eat wherever you are going, it is smart to eat prior as well. It is better to be full and refuse the meal at the attraction than to be hungry and wishing you had eaten before.
My second tip is to bring food with you if you are able to. Unlike my experience with grad nite, generally people are allowed to bring bags into sporting events and amusement parks. My go-to snack to bring with me if I know food will be scarce is a peanut butter and jelly rice cake. The rice cake fits easily into most purses or bags, and it is a really easy snack to eat. If you are worried that the jelly will melt and be messy, (which it can be), I recommend putting some banana on the peanut butter instead. Another snack you can bring is a nut packet or any type of granola bar.
My third tip is to bring a water bottle. Water at amusement parks can be extremely expensive. Bringing your own water bottle will save you money, trust me. Aside from that, water is an appetite suppressant. If you are constantly drinking water, you will stay full from your previous meal for a longer amount of time than if you scarcely drink. If you are drinking enough water, chances are you are less likely to be in extreme hunger while you run around visiting princesses at Disneyland or are cheering on your favorite basketball team.
Now, I am not going to lie, it can be hard being out at events with no food. I have a friend who has celiac and barely goes out to events because he is worried about there won’t be food for him. And that is absolutely ok.
Because my last tip is to consider before going out if this outing is worth it. And it’s okay if it isn’t. That said, I personally love doing things and having new experiences. I refuse to let my dietary restrictions prevent me from going to things and doing things I like. This is why I either always pack my own food whenever I go somewhere or deal with the consequences of not eating for a few hours.
Yes, I am often times hungry after a while when I go out to events with my friends. But honestly, my friends often prefer my peanut butter rice cakes to their cold, chewy amusement park burger.
It is definitely still possible to have fun at amusement parks and games being vegan. It may just require a few sacrifices.
But can you have fun without bringing your own food? It really depends on how full your last meal made you and what amount of hunger you can tolerate before succumbing to hangriness. (PSA: being hangry is a real thing). There may be some events that aren’t worth attending. There will be some events that are.
You just have to remember that you aren’t the only vegan at the Dodger Game, at Disneyland, or at Six Flags. There are other people like you, going through the same things, and I’m one of them. With the right attitude and preparation, anything’s possible.
Being vegan, by definition, means a person who does not consume any meat products. That said, being vegan is more than solely about what foods you do or don’t consume. Veganism is a lifestyle.
When I decided to venture on my health and wellness journey, I began to pick up many vegan eating habits. However, through speaking to other vegans and going to vegan festivals, I began to realize that being vegan is about so much more than if I eat meat or not.
I began this journey because my body began to reject meat products. It was not by choice. The more time I spend adjusting to this new diet, the more I learn about its intent.
A large component of veganism is about filling your body with things that are good for it and that make you feel healthy both inside and outside. With that comes other, non-food related components.
In this post, I want to talk about the exercise component of being vegan.
In an effort to make my body feel good, inside and out, I personally need to work out. When we work out, the activity releases dopamine within our bodies and that induces happiness. This explains why my mood instantly increases after a good workout.
As someone who struggles with anxiety, I use exercise as my escape. I can eat all the healthy, fresh food in the world, but it is that combined with exercise that keeps my mind at ease. When I am doing a workout I love, I feel invincible. My phone is tucked away, and I can focus solely on myself.
This outlet used to be Cardio Barre and has since transferred to Soul Cycle. While a separate Soul Cycle review is on its way, it is imperative to write about it now as well because that is the only way that I can relay to you how much exercise (Soul Cycle in particular) has positively shaped my life.
When I lost the ability to eat many foods, I found a home in the kitchen, finding new foods to cook. This activity is fun and allows me to show a creative side of myself that usually lies tucked away. However, it is not always enough to clear my head. When I get anxious, this seemingly random burst of thoughts floods my mind. It seems as if there is nothing that can barricade them. I begin to overthink and question everything I can.
Although I have a therapist who has helped me through lots of mental blocks, I had no other outlet to release this tension within myself on my own time. That is, until I started going to SoulCycle. The whole idea behind SoulCycle is that you are empowered while you are working out. You are being positively reinforced with inspirational speeches as you are cycling. This combination of working body and soul allows me specifically to release my own tension.
I am working hard, sweating more than I probably should be. But I love it. The instructors encourage positivity and healthy living, two things that the vegan lifestyle often preaches as well.
Exercising, no matter what kind, heals the body, mind, and soul. It works out your physical body while challenging your mental state, releasing endorphins that heal the soul.
Exercise is a crucial aspect, in my opinion, to living happily. Because that’s all we want right? In this wild ride of life, we may strive for different things. But everyone wants happiness… right? Life is kind of like a cake. You need certain amounts of ingredients in order to make it just perfect. It doesn’t always come out like it does on the box, but that’s ok.
Every cake is different, just like every body. Funny how I’m using a cake metaphor when talking about healthy living…. I know for me, being meat and dairy free is one aspect of my recipe. Another is exercise. Mix those two together, and I have an extremely solid base to live my happiness.
So, you don’t have to work out in order to call yourself vegan. Working out just adds another component of that healthy lifestyle we are all working towards achieving.
Eating out as a vegan who also has tons of other non-vegan related intolerances can be hard. That said, it’s not impossible. In fact, far from it. Over the course of my four year (and counting) dairy free, gluten free, meat free, and egg free journey, I have eaten at my fair share of restaurants. In these delicious outings I believe I have come close to mastering the art of eating out with allergies. Although I briefly spoke on this in my article, “Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World,” a recent encounter at a restaurant prompted me to believe that there is more to say on the topic.
I decided to jump on the bandwagon and try the controversial and evenly intriguing Impossible Burger. As someone who hadn’t eaten red meat since 4th grade, I was hesitant to try the vegan burger that was created to mimic, in both taste and sight, a beef patty. As I ordered the burger, I gave my usual shpiel to our waitress: “I have an allergy to gluten and dairy so can you please make sure it is in a lettuce wrap and doesn’t have any butter please?” Usually, this type of warning suffices. That said, I realize now that I have a habit of going to the same restaurants over and over again. The servers know my allergies at this point, and I don’t worry as much about specifying my allergies and making sure I know exactly what is in each meal. I trust that they will know for me.
While this works at those specific restaurants, it doesn’t anywhere else. I can’t assume it will.
Back to my story. As I was waiting for my burger, I decided to look up what the actual Impossible patty was made of. Turns out, the actual patty contains gluten. I brought it up to our waitress, telling her that I was under the impression the burger was gluten free and could not eat it once it arrived. She apologized and told me that she completely forgot that the patty contained gluten.
At first I was upset that I was not told prior that the patty was not gluten free since I said that I am allergic to gluten. But once I was able to set my emotions aside, I looked at the situation from a more logical standpoint. Had I asked if the patty was gluten free? No. I confidently ordered the burger and instead of asking if everything was gluten free, I ordered it as if I was already sure it was.
Now, yes, the blame does not solely fall onto me. The waitress did apologize because she forgot to warn me. But this potentially bad situation reminded me of an important thing to remember when eating out: unless the person taking your order has his or her own food modifications or is very sensitive to someone else's in their lives, chances are, they will not know as much about ingredients as you do. Not all waiters know what foods contain certain allergens and we can’t assume that they do.
The amount of people that think mayonnaise has dairy in it constantly amazes me. Yes, it is not vegan, but that is because of egg, not milk.
While I have had more negative eating experiences like this, I have also had amazing ones. I had the greatest experience at a restaurant called Wokcano when my waiter was vegan. I ordered a meal and asked if it could be made vegan. He responded excitedly, telling me that he was vegan and knew exactly what to write down. While this experience was extremely successful, I can’t expect all of them to be this good.
If you are worried about a certain ingredient, ask. Never be afraid to question an item or ingredient on a menu. And if you blatantly ask about a certain ingredient and get the “ok” you either need to put your trust in your waiter or not risk it at all if the reward is less than the potentially negative effects of eating the food.
And similar to this, never be afraid to say you are vegan or gluten free. It is not something to be ashamed of. If I have learned anything from being 100% dairy and gluten free, it is that the vegan and gluten free community sticks together. When my waiter told me he was vegan, I was able to trust him so much more because he understood the importance of an aspect of my lifestyle that others didn’t. He knew what ingredients I could and couldn’t eat because he could and couldn't eat them also.
So, if you need food accommodations, don’t let them stop you from eating out. Eating out can be fun. Don’t miss out on that experience. Just make sure that you cross every T and dot every I when ordering and don’t be afraid to question what you don’t know.
As long as you ask politely, you are not being a "bad guest." You are not being an inconvenience. You are living your life and want to make sure that you are eating foods that will make you feel good. Never be ashamed or apologize for that.
As I walked into Hugo's Restaurant, I was welcomed warmly. The hostess greeted me with a smile and sat me right away. The restaurant itself is very open, which I like. One side of the main room has doors that remain propped, leading to an enclosed outdoor section. All of the walls, chairs, and tables in the entire restaurant are light wood, brightening the room. The light from outside cascades off the wooden table tops, further illuminating the room. There are lots of green plants as well, adding pops of color. Overall, the combination of the bright, open eating areas and greenery create a very homey and calm atmosphere. I sat and ate beside a window. The light shone through the window beside me, as calm music played in the background. It is safe to say that I enjoyed my serene eating experience.
For an appetizer, I got the Asian Spring Rolls. Lately I have had this random craving for spring rolls. This crave was thoroughly satisfied. These spring rolls were delicious. They were filled with snow peas, carrots, cucumbers, avocado, kelp noodles, and fresh herbs. The kelp noodles gave the roll a super nice crunch. The cucumber and carrot slices were cut so thinly that their crunch was almost lost, so the crunchiness of the noodles was a great addition. The mild sesame-chili dipping sauce that came with the spring rolls was both tangy and sweet, and paired well with the dish.
My main course, however, did not impress me as much. I got the Hugo Veggie Burger on top of their homemade bread, with a side of fries. This entree was very dense. The homemade bread, while good, was very heavy. This burger would have been better if it had been in a lettuce wrap. The burger patty itself had really nice flavors. It tasted very fresh. My issue with the burger was that it was all the same texture. It was mushy from the top to the bottom. I personally would have preferred if it had a bit more crunch to it. I had the same issue with the fries. The fries had no crunch and were very soft. Imagine a soft fry as opposed to a crunchy one. I am not sure how else to describe the texture, but I think my explanation made sense. The fries were also seasoned in a plethora of different seasonings, hitting my taste buds the wrong way.
For dessert, I got the Mixed Berry Cobbler, which was really yummy. While the texture again was slightly mushy, the crispy pieces of granola on top saved the dish. The flavors of the berries were really spot on, and it tasted very fresh.
To finish off my meal, I ordered a ginger turmeric tea. I love turmeric tea and often get it wherever I can find it. This tea, in particular, was really really good. It had the perfect balance of turmeric and ginger so that it was not too spicy, and it paired really well with some honey. Between the appetizer, burger, cobbler, and tea, I left Hugo’s very satisfied and full. The leftover spring rolls in my fridge are calling my name as I write this. :)
Would I Recommend?
I would recommend Hugo’s to people. Aside from the burger, I had a really pleasant dinner and enjoyed my spring rolls. That said, I advise you all to pick simple dishes when you eat at Hugo’s. The more a person must work to make a non-vegan dish vegan, the more accommodating needs to be made. I like to stick with foods that are naturally gluten free and vegan, because I find that they sit with my stomach better. A lot of Hugo’s options, while accommodating to vegans, are heavily processed to satisfy that request. Hugo’s is worth it; just stick to the simple menu items.
My name is Gabriella. Join me on my health and wellness journey as I discover foods that not only please my taste buds but my stomach as well!