SURPRISE! What I REALLY Got from My Masters Degree

What I REALLY Got from my Masters_GoJulesGo_titlegraphic_28NOV2018

‘Cause I don’t wanna lose you now, I’m looking right at the other half of me...”

I groaned, cursing my alarm. Wednesday. I quickly swiped my phone to silent. Even Justin Timberlake couldn’t convince me 6:15am looked good on a Wednesday.

Bleary-eyed, I got into the shower, wondering what work-appropriate pants might actually be clean and still fit. As the clock neared 7:00am, I started preparing my Commuter’s Survival Kit.


I opened the fridge and reached for the half and half, suddenly pausing.

I stood there for what felt like days, vivid scenes rushing to mind, clawing for air, demanding to know how I could have been so naive. Maybe I could just go back in time and pretend everything was “normal.” What was normal? Who was I, and why did that person suddenly feel like a stranger to the woman standing in the middle of the kitchen with a twisted expression on her face?

Just hours earlier, I had watched a documentary on Netflix about healthy eating. Or so I’d thought when I’d hit play.

Photo credit

Instead, I’d gotten the awakening of a lifetime. My entire worldview was upended, as if learning that everyone and everything I’d ever known had been in disguise.

Hey! I’m the only one around here who gets to wear ‘stache glasses!

Puzzle pieces I’d never known I’d failed to connect suddenly formed a gruesome picture. And I was part of causing that gore.

And this doesn’t even cover the half of it – like the cruelty. Credit

I poured a few tablespoons of creamer into my travel mug, throwing the remainder into the garbage.

That’s it. Never again.

At lunchtime I eyed the salad bar as though I’d never seen it before. My heart was racing. I felt scared. Alone. So if I don’t have the chicken, or the eggs, or the cheese…are those grains cooked with stock? Are there any non-dairy dressings?

I loaded a plate with greens, tofu, beans, and, Ooh! Nuts! That could work…

My internet browser exploded with new tabs. Vegan Recipes. Beginner Vegan. Why No Honey? Is Wool Vegan? Can I keep my leather hiking boots?

Thankfully, I quickly stumbled upon resources like this one.

I felt like I was in The Matrix. Except instead of staring dreamily at Keanu Reeves, I was looking at everyone around me, wondering if I’d lost my mind. “They’re eating babies!” my new, red pill-swallowing brain shouted. “BABIES!”


It was so profoundly disconcerting that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to function normally. (As if I was playing with a full deck to begin with!)

I spent the next month combating this dis-ease by learning everything I could about veganism, wondering how long it would take until someone caught on that I was ordering avocado rolls instead of my normal salmon sashimi. I had adopted the notion that no one liked vegans, and this latest epiphany triggered teenage Jules. What if no one wants to hang out with me anymore? What if everyone thinks I’m a judge-y a*shole?

I had been a vegetarian for all of my teen years, but by 19, had succumbed to latent peer pressure and returned to the Standard American Diet. At 34, I was terrified that I’d let that happen again.

SAD, indeed! Photo credit

Credibility. I need credibility. And support. In one of the wisest decisions I’ve ever made (besides starting this blog, of course), I enrolled in a Masters degree program for Humane Education.

Essential Elements of Humane Ed
Photo credit

The Institute for Humane Education gave me everything I’d hoped it would and more. Because two and a half years later, I’m happy to report: My vegan flag flies loud and proud. And I promise – I’m not here to convert you.

But I am here for this:


And this:


And this: 

I cannot overstate the impact going vegan has had on my life, nor the lightness of heart I feel at every meal, knowing that my decisions align with my values. The real epiphany, though? Realizing my choices matter. I matter.

You matter.

And we get the opportunity to express our true, loving, compassionate selves every day, through every action we take.

What a gift.



Have you ever had a Matrix-y moment?


47 thoughts on “SURPRISE! What I REALLY Got from My Masters Degree”

      1. This may say something about the time I have on my hands, but I just watched the majority of the video. I have to admit, it is an intelligent presentation. There was only one problem — I was extremely distracted by her tattoos. SHE HAS BICYCLES ON HER CHEST!

        1. ha ha ha I’m slow clapping your dedication to getting to the bottom of that video. She really does an incredible job presenting information; finding her channel early on was a chipmunk-God-send!

  1. YEAH JULES! Five years of vegan living for me and it hasn’t stopped me from pushing my limits physically while living true to my values. Quite the opposite – less inflammation = faster recovery = stronger and faster. #winning Keep on keeping on!

    Ms RiverGirl – no need to go vegan. Easy to make small additions to your food (try Beyond Chicken instead of Tyson) and see what you think. I spent two years transitioning and adding great vegan options to my diet (not taking away/depriving myself) made it wayyyy more accessible. Even if you still eat meat/dairy, cutting back could help you feel better about your choices. And if you don’t, that’s ok too!

    1. ha ha ha I was JUST typing that to her (“being open to small changes can make a BIG difference, too!”) when this came through! You said it much better!

      The vegan lifestyle has two amazing poster people in you and Chelsea, that’s fo’ sho’!

  2. Forks Over knives is an interesting documentary. If anyone was ever on the fence about going vegan, that would push them over the fence for sure.

  3. Reading through the comments here (yes, I do have a life) and thought I would throw in a suggestion for those transitioning — a fitness app that includes a food log. It adds discipline to those challenged by a lack of. I just started with My fitness pal. By April, I will be a stud and ready to wow the old ladies at my condo pool.

    1. GREAT suggestion – Fitbit has CHANGED my life. And finding a recipe resource that works with your lifestyle was key for me, too. One Green Planet and Clean Food, Dirty Girl (go ahead, I know you want to) are two of my favorites.

  4. Yes, I have. After my stroke in 2010, where I died, I had a new personality, freed from OCD, freed from incessant worry and such. But the real change, real change came with 3 books and my reactions to them.
    1) Conversations with God Book 1 by Neale Donald Walsh
    2) E-Squared by Pam Grout
    3) Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorhjani (spelling)
    Each brought me square with great change and the me today is very thankful and peaceful to these authors and influences.
    PS – did Vegan and can’t stick with it… sorry

    1. I’m so happy you’ve found such freedom and peace, Scott! It’s amazing what the right book (or movie, in my case with Forks Over Knives) at the right time can do, isn’t it?

  5. This pretty much says it all–>And we get the opportunity to express our true, loving, compassionate selves every day, through every action we take.
    What a gift.

    When are you going to write a book?!!

    1. Aw, thanks DP! Maybe we should go in on a book together, but only if we can work “vegan Doritos” into the title (side note: the blaze and sweet chili spiced ones ARE vegan, ha! …Wonder how they’d taste with vegan Raisinets?).

    1. If I ever have another Matrix moment, I hope it involves feeling like, for just a moment, I’m married to Darren Criss and/or able to eat unlimited french fries without gaining weight.

  6. So glad to read this! I have been “transitioning” to veganism since having an honest look at my blood work and weight…still eat fish occasionally and trying to erase the dairy from my life. “Forks Over Knives” is what pushed me over the line…perhaps I need to watch it again!

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