Plant-based journalism turned me into a plant-based journalist


Lilly Gorman

The Sidekick executive enterprise editor Shreya Beldona turned plant-based through her journalism. Beldona thinks a plant-based diet can be tough, but everyone should still explore these eating habits.

Shreya Beldona, Executive enterprise editor

When you get to Austin, keep heading down Guadalupe Street towards West Campus until you hit a small white building with purple accents; and unlike the rest of Austin, actually decent parking availability. 

As you enter, you’ll be greeted by organic coffee and uniquely flavored chocolate bars, but skip all that (I know it might be hard) and head straight to the back of the store.

There you’ll find a small deli, usually making sandwiches non-stop. There, they serve the sub I dream about: the Wheatsville Co-Op Classic Southern Fried Tofu. Since I am plant-based, I omit the cheese and opt for vegenaise. 

But there was a time when I wouldn’t dare. 

What’s a sandwich without cheese? Without a thinly spread layer of butter on toasted bread? Since I have been vegetarian since birth, I never had a desire to eat meat. But dairy? I loved dairy – until I decided to write a story about the plant-based movement in Coppell.

After talking to sources and hearing their passion, I was intrigued. So, the cow milk got switched out with almond or soy milk. The honey was swapped with maple syrup; though, I do consume honey on occasion. The cheese, which was hard to replace, eventually transitioned to my personal favorite: Field Roast Chao Creamery Vegan Shreds

Within a couple of weeks, I became fully plant-based. 

As an all-or-nothing person, I stuck to it and am still plant-based today, but when I think back to why I went plant-based, the details aren’t clear.

I’ll break it down as 20% boredom, 40% my reporting and 10% willingness to take on a challenge. Now if you add up all the percentages you’ll notice a pretty sizable 30% chunk missing. This portion, however, cannot be encapsulated by a phrase.

Unfortunately, like the majority of girls I have interacted with, I’ve been on many diets. And remember that all-or-nothing mentality? That mixed with dieting never served me well.

Every day, I would not only count the amount of calories in each meal, but I would count the amount of carbohydrates, protein and fats. I’d make every single meal and meticulously weigh out each ingredient to the nearest gram. I feared eating out because I couldn’t do the same at restaurants. 

Though this continued on even after I first turned plant-based around May 2020, I slowly realized how much joy there was in eating. So, overnight I stopped the restrictive cycle, and although nothing changed physically and I didn’t look dramatically different, I felt that joy again.

It wasn’t that going plant-based healed my relationship with food, it gave me the opportunity to find a reprieve from the constant weighing and dreading. 

Since, I’ve created my favorite protein pancakes, based off of this recipe. I made the most luxurious coconut cake. I adapted a tofu recipe and created my family’s favorite bagel sandwich. 

The once “vegan food is boring” stereotype that I used to fit is now far from applicable, and it is hard to fathom this coming to fruition without my reporting. 

No source said that being plant-based was a must, but they talked about its environmental impacts, the peace of mind knowing fewer animals were harmed and the way it made them feel. It was hard to do nothing after hearing about it. 

As for the social aspect, no, I cannot probably find anything substantial at Domino’s, but I can devour Mellow Mushroom’s pizza with vegan cheese. Still, I can enjoy new cuisines such as Burmese and Ethiopian. I can dream about the next time I eat Wheatsville’s vegan donuts and Southern Fried Tofu sandwich. 

In fact, I don’t even have to dream, I’m having it next weekend, and as a Texas Longhorn, I’ll be having it for a long while. 

Follow Shreya (@BeldonaShreya) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.