Becoming Vegetarian

Junior bonds with mother over new diet


Skylar Wrege poses with a sticker that promotes a vegan lifestyle. Photo contributed

Amanda Zheng, Staff Writer

Junior Skylar Wrege tilted her head behind her wide-framed glasses while peering at her mom from afar. Something was different about her mother. Wrege had known her mother for the entirety of her 16 years of existence, and yet, she couldn’t quite put her finger on what had changed in her.

As Wrege squinted her eyes and furrowed her eyebrows in intense concentration, something caught her attention. As her glassy blue eyes scanned her mother, they stopped at the bottom half of her face. The corners of Wrege’s mother’s mouth were turned upwards… in a beaming smile.

Lately her mother had seemed happier, less stressed. Wrege noticed that she had seemed to have shed a couple pounds. Her mother was finally achieving the happiness she deserved. She credited it all to a transition in her diet: she had begun following a vegan diet.

Determination washed over Wrege. She vowed she would do anything to keep the smile on her mother’s face; even if that meant she would have to adhere to strict restrictions in her diet. After all, who needed meat and animal products anyway?

Wrege discovered that she didn’t really find meat enjoyable to consume which made the transition easy. However, the impetus for Wrege’s transition to a vegan diet had always been her mother.

“My mom has been through a lot since a young age, and she seemed very sad with what she was doing,” Wrege said. “She also didn’t like her weight. She’s my mom and I care about her; I want her to be happy.”

Wrege’s mom transitioned to veganism after an appointment with her nutritionist. Because Wrege knows that doing things by oneself can be really difficult, she soon followed suit with her mom’s decision.

“I did it to help my mom stay motivated. She gained more energy, and she was more motivated to do her job and about everything. I noticed an obvious difference in her; and she was much more happy,” Wrege said. “She was definitely smiling more; she was definitely more motivated. I started the diet because of my mom, but I liked it because I don’t like meat.”

Wrege and her mother had always held a close relationship, but Wrege believed that doing a vegan diet together had brought them closer than ever before.

“She [my mom] definitely showed appreciation for my choice [to become vegan with her] because it’s easier to do something with another person. She’ll show me she appreciates it by buying me things I like that are vegan or vegetarian. It definitely strengthened our relationship because we’re existing in the same place doing this together,” Wrege said. “ Sometimes I’ll help her prepare meals. The hardest part is probably making not only a vegan meal, but also non-vegan food for the rest of the family.”

Additionally, because veganism restricts animal products that are found in many ordinary foods, Wrege had to be extra cautious about what she consumed.

“When I went to restaurants and stuff when I was vegan, I’d usually have to customize all my food because it’d have meat or like cheese in it. So I would have to make all these substitutions. I would be like: ‘Can I have this chicken wrap without chicken, cheese, buffalo sauce…it was a pain,” Wrege said. “And I work at a restaurant so I understand people’s particular food choices. Recently there have been more options for vegans like the beyond meat or alternative meat burgers which is nice. But if I want fast food, I still can’t go to McDonald’s and even get just fries because they have beef flavoring on them. Or Burger King, where they use the same cooktop grill for all their menu items.”

Wrege acknowledges that not all her opinions are shared with others, even fellow vegans or vegetarians. According to Wrege, every person’s experience will be different and personal, depending on what one wishes to “get out” of the vegan/vegetarian experience.

“There are separate parts of being vegan or vegetarian that are different in everyone. Obviously the big part is not eating animal products or meat, but some people like me are more lenient than others. Some will be extremely upset after accidentally eating non-vegan food, whereas I’ll be upset at first, but I can move on from the accident quickly,” Wrege said. “Many vegans don’t use animal products such as wool or leather, but I personally do because the way I see it, they’re already being killed. If that’s the case, I might as well use the rest of the animal instead of wasting it.”

Wrege’s interpretation of what a vegan diet entails is comparatively less restrictive to other interpretations. Since Wrege’s initial transition to veganism three years ago, she has loosened the reins on her restrictions and has transitioned into a vegetarian diet instead.

“I changed to vegetarian for a silly reason: I wanted goldfish, and they’re not vegan because they have cheese,” Wrege said. “I think my mom’s going to stay vegan for the rest of her life, but I’m not sure about me. I don’t want to not be vegetarian, but I also don’t know if I’m going to stay on the same path I’m on right now. It’ll depend on my financial situation because vegan food can be really expensive.”

Despite the fact Wrege is unsure about her plans with being vegetarian for the future, she is thankful that it brought her even closer to her mother.

“I’m glad we [my mother and I] have that one thing in common and we can bond over that,” Wrege said.