The ideal diet

Senior Mackenzie Voigt shares her experiences changing her diet and how it has affected her future.


Sadie Rhomberg

Voigt likes to grab a quick lunch from The Bread Garden and enjoys their food items from the hot and cold bar. Today she had quinoa, salad and bread.

Sadie Rhomberg, Reporter

Food is a massive part of everyday life; it’s what humans eat every few hours for energy. Imagine getting a stomache ache after eating foods containing common ingredients such as dairy or oil. That’s exactly what senior Mackenzie Voigt experienced until she changed her diet and embarked on a new food journey.

Voigt decided to become vegan, meaning she wouldn’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, or anything else containing animal products. There are many different paths one can take when being vegan, such as raw till four or high carb low fat. The options are endless. As for Voigt, her main focus is to eat as many raw plants and less processed foods.

Even growing up, she wasn’t eating everything that her friends were. “Before I went vegan, I was dairy-free because I had stomach problems… But it made the transition pretty easy,” she said. Voigt was never a meat lover either.“My parents would basically force me to eat my meat,” she said.

Many vegans or health conscious individuals stay away from all fats, including naturally fattier foods like avocados or nuts. Voigt tries to avoid oil but will eat other fats because she believes a balanced diet is important.

Since going vegan, Voigt has experienced less stomach aches and feels more energized. Her family and friends haven’t been completely supportive nor unsupportive. While her younger brother, Harrison Voigt ’20, often enjoys vegan foods that she makes for him, such as dairy-free pancakes, he doesn’t think he would like most of the other recipes that she cooks.

“Usually when [she] makes her own dinners, I don’t eat them and I have dinner with the rest of our family. Most of her food seems pretty good but some of it I would most likely not eat,” Harrison said.

Sometimes making a drastic life change can throw off one’s parents, and they may become offended or angry. Voigt’s parents expressed their concerns regarding nutrition deficiencies.

“I told my mom I was going vegan and she was concerned with protein and iron. She told me that she didn’t want me to be judgemental of other people. Protein is in a lot of stuff you already eat, like tofu, grains and pasta. You also don’t need as much protein as people think you do,” Mackenzie said. It’s not hard for her to get enough protein because she “loves beans so much and eat[s] them all the time.”

Voigt’s parents continue to buy groceries for her but now she cooks all of her own meals.

“They respect how I eat…I’m my own person now so I can choose what I eat,” Voigt said.

According to the 2008 “Vegetarianism in America” study, there are 1 million vegans in the United States. Compared to the other multiple hundreds of million individuals who are carnivores, it may be hard to find someone to confide in about veganism. Thankfully, Voigt had a friend throughout her transition. Her good friend, Mary Mondanaro ’17, is also vegan and has helped Voigt change her diet.

Mondanaro went vegan before Voigt did, but they transitioned together. Both of them were basically vegan before so they just had to eliminate a few foods. Just like being in a club, being around those who share similar interests can aid in one’s confidence and help them feel more supported.

“We have had vegan potlucks with our other friends and I definitely feel more supported and less like an outcast with my veganism,” Mondanaro said.

She enjoys cooking and finds excitement in finding replacements for recipes. There are many substitutes that can be used in baking and cooking. Many vegan baking recipes include a flax egg or a mashed banana as an egg replacer. For more savory dishes, there are vegan meats and cheeses that Voigt suggests for those transitioning to a vegan diet. The familiar tastes can aid the change from a carnivorous to a herbivorous diet. Instead of the fake meats and cheeses, Voigt prefers finding healthier replacements.

“If you want to be more healthy, find healthy replacements for foods you already like and add in vegetables. Say you like pizza. Make a pizza with lots of vegetables… slowly your taste buds will adjust and you’ll want more vegetables. Also drink water because if you don’t, you won’t know how full you are,” she said.

Eating habits can affect one’s longevity of life and even their future. As Voigt planned for her college career, she took her interest in food and nutrition into consideration. She plans to study nutrition and food science at Vermont University and eventually become a dietitian.

“I definitely want to make nutrition a big part of my life to help others. I think I will promote a plant based lifestyle to my clients and I want to find a way to incorporate my beliefs into my job and onto others,” Voigt said.

Her friends are supportive of Voigt’s career path.

Mondanaro thinks she will do great and is really excited for her. “I honestly think she’ll thrive there.”

To become healthier and happier, Voigt suggests to see one’s diet not as a punishment but as a new lifestyle.

“Make it into something you will enjoy. Otherwise it won’t bring the benefits you want. Make it into something that will make you happy and last a long time,” she said.