Like every journey, you never know where the road will take you. There will be bumps and bruises and even missed turns. I never knew that the journey to vegetarianism would be so tough. I experienced many things that I never knew were a part of the journey because I'd never personally experienced them nor had I heard about it from anyone around me.

Actually, at the time I didn't know many vegetarians or vegans. I didn't know many people that really put a lot of thought into the foods that they were consuming. It was a lonely, but also exciting, time for me because I had opened up a door that I never dreamed of opening.

I tried to relate to the people I would see on YouTube who were vegetarians, but it wasn't that easy. I had to remember that not every journey is the same because not every person lives the same life. So I essentially have to make journey to a healthy lifestyle on my own.

1. A Slow Start

The beginning wasn't rough—it was almost stagnant. But it all started when I decided that I would attempt to cut down on my meat intake. There wasn't a major reason why, other than the feelings of "what if?" I started wondering what it would be like to live this different lifestyle, so one day I decided that I would make an attempt to eat better. I would only eat seafood and see where that took me.

I was a pescatarian for about seven months, then transitioned fully into vegetarianism. I would eat a lot of fish, all cooked differently. When I say a lot of fish, I mean A LOT. I ate shrimp as well. I wasn't having a bad experience as a pescatarian, but I just decided that I wanted to make another change, so I did. At one point, near that seven month point, I sat back and realized that I couldn't eat another animal.

It wasn't an epiphany or anything, I just really had enough of eating things that I felt were bad for me. I started to feel like the seafood wasn't something I really needed, just like I didn't need chicken or beef to live a decent life. I knew that consuming seafood was just holding me back. So, from that day forward, I said I would eat clean and healthy (or so I thought). 

2. The Rough Part

What I didn't realize was how unprepared I really was. I didn't have experience cooking different meals. The furthest I went into the kitchen was to the microwave or toaster. I had a bit of experience making pasta and sometimes scrambled eggs if I didn't end up burning them. I spent a few months eating salads in the school cafeteria and pizza or pasta if I wanted to switch it up.

I became increasingly bored with the same meals. I began losing weight drastically, and my acne had cleared from the amount of water I'd been drinking (the good part), but I was dreadfully bored. I started to feel like I was missing out on a life worth living, which was really just Fried Chicken Wednesday in the cafeteria.

I stuck to my guns, ate more salads with better toppings and even stopped by the vegan and vegetarian section of the cafeteria that I'd never tried—and it's been the greatest discovery of my entire vegetarian college student life.

3. The Bright Side

It was the summer before my junior year and I'd decided that I would try new things. I started eating veggie burgers and having almond milk with my cereal, which I've fallen in love with. I honestly feel like I've tried more options on restaurant menus than ever before. I'm more interested in trying new foods and really enjoying them. I feel better throughout the day, and even get better sleep at night.

I'm so thankful for the decision I made to change the way I eat and the way I view food, entirely. Although my decision to stop eating meat didn't have anything to do with saving the animals, I still feel better about my small impact on the environment. I hold a higher regard for animals and I would like to do better when it comes to the way I treat the planet as well. That's a conversation for another day but I would like to see where life takes me from here. 

4. The Future

Sadly, I still eat dairy. I enjoy ice cream and pretty much everything covered in cheese or sour cream. It's my biggest weakness which technically makes me an ovo-lacto vegetarian if we're being technical, but I plan on changing that. I've discovered dairy-free yogurt and ice cream, which I never knew were so good until recently. I also want to expand my cooking abilities. I know pasta is amazing but I want to eat more vegetables and start juicing as well. 

Now that I know my true strength, I know that I can continue on my healthy eating journey. I want to encourage other people around me to eat better as well. I want to see us all live longer and healthier lives, especially in the African-American community where the chances of having high blood pressure and diabetes are higher than ever. Hopefully, I can be an inspiration to the people around me.