One nation, underrepresented.

Kris Lawrence, a 25-year-old who’s half white and half Sri Lankan, an immigrant’s son, perfectly represents the “American Dream”: He proudly exercises his freedom of religion with a strong Christian faith, he possesses a powerful work ethic as a mechanical engineer, and he’s an advocate for diversity and inclusion in this country.

But America’s reputation with immigrants — even those like Kris — has not been the best. We say we welcome diversity and a difference of cultures and perspectives, but some Americans allow fear of change, of difference, of the unknown, to shape their view of immigrants.

Kris’s father, Raj, migrated from the island of Sri Lanka when he was 19-years-old in 1972. Due to his skin color, he experienced racism, discrimination, and low expectations of his intelligence, even though he came to the U.S. to study at Stanford University. Interestingly enough, most Americans would say they value education, and those who work hard for their “American dream”. Yet, Raj was a perfect example of that, and still did not live up to our cultural standard. Sadly, he isn’t an extreme minority: More than one in four adult immigrants in the U.S. have at least a college degree education.

“My father was an excellent student while he was in Sri Lanka,” Kris shared. “He studied for six hours a day, everyday.”

Kris had his own struggles being half Sri Lankan, as even his own grandparents did not accept the marriage between his white mother and his dark Sri Lankan father at first. “If you have kids,” Kris’s grandmother once said to her daughter, “How will we walk with them in public?”

Kris is part of the 30 percent of America that is a minority group. He studied mechanical engineering at Cal Poly, where he was even more underrepresented in not only a STEM field, but on a campus that lacks diversity.

Through all the difficulties both Kris and Raj have endured, one as an immigrant and one as an immigrant’s son, their Christian faith is what kept them grounded and strengthened them.

“My father read his bible every morning,” shared Kris’ brother, Sean. “One morning he slept in, and he woke up to a small earthquake that shook his bed. He hasn’t slept in again since. That time is for him and God.”

In Sri Lanka, Rajs community was Christian, and it was a culture shock for him being in one culture that upheld certain morals and values that were so seemingly different to what he experienced in the U.S. As Rajs son, Kris knows where his values lie, and in that, he knows the value of different cultures and perspectives brought to the table.

When we understand how much our immigrants and minorities add to our self-proclaimed values of individualism, morality, progress, freedom of religion, and democracy, they themselves should become a cherished value to this country.


Have you tried this unexpected healing agent?

As Hippocrates, the infamous Greek physician,  once said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” 

Obesity rates, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases have only grown in the U.S. over the past few years. It’s time to start respecting our bodies, and it’s time to start asking ourselves if the fuel we put into our bodies permits peak performance. We’ve all heard of all the fad diets and the magic pills — but what if it were as simple as eating plant-based whole foods? (You know…that stuff that grows from the ground?)

Take it from the American Institute of Cancer Research experts who say a plant-based diet is the “heart of nutrition recommendations”.  Or possibly from an article written by physicians in The Permanente Journal that stated, “The future of health care will involve an evolution toward a paradigm where the prevention and treatment of disease is centered, not on a pill or surgical procedure, but on another serving of fruits and vegetables.”

With a little research and an open mind, you’ll find multiple studies showing how plant-based diets have healed diseases such as type 2 diabetes,  liver disease, asthma, colon cancer, stomach cancer, depression, and the list goes on.

Hear more about the healing effects of a plant-based diet from vegan Rachel Sterman.


Exercise ℞

With the rising rates of depression and anxiety, it’s important to prescribe yourself a healthy dose of Exercise. Research has shown that physical exercise can enhance one’s mental health as much as psychotherapy.

The improvements of physical activity affects our immune systems, our physiological health, and our psychological health. It protects our bodies from the onset of neurodegenerative diseases and is a key ingredient for optimal brain performance. 

There are many positive effects of even just 20-40 minutes of exercise, like increasing your metabolism,  reducing reductions in bone mineral mass, and reducing risk of disease. It’s a quick and easy way to elevate your mental state, which is why some might refer to it as a holistic medicine.

Personally, one of my favorite forms of exercise is hiking. If I’m feeling like I’m too stressed out, going on a hike and releasing endorphins always helps me. I instantly feel better, and it helps me gain perspective on life and focus on how grateful I am to be able to enjoy the nature around me. Here in San Luis Obispo, we have an abundance of trails and beautiful places to explore.

“SLO is home to hundreds of hiking trails,” shared San Luis Obispo County’s Parks and Recreation representative, Elizabeth Kavanaugh. “The most well known hikes are the Nine Sisters.” The Nine Sisters are nine volcanic peaks that stretch from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay.

While the physical exercise aids your mental health, there’s something to be said about being in the great outdoors and appreciating the nature around you.


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Don’t underestimate the power of a little exercise and some fresh air. Go out and explore, find your own favorite places to run, hike, or walk, and comment below with your own pictures! Release those endorphins and move your body, there’s an abundance of benefits to doing so.

Happy adventuring!



Change in diet vs. climate genocide

Breaking News: We’re Breaking The Climate. The United Nations released a devastating climate report on October 7th, 2018. Greenhouse gas emissions will warm up our atmosphere by almost 3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) by 2040 if we don’t begin to change what we do, what we eat, and who we support.

The report has been traveling through Twitter, and seemingly catching the attention of many.

With worry of an irreversible global emergency, the public is urged to change their transportation and electricity usage habits. However, one of the biggest causes of global warming is the animal product industries, as well as one of the quickest and easiest actions you can take during this crisis.

The IPCC suggests people eat on average 30 percent less animal products. Plant-based diets are growing in the US and many are encouraged to change their diets, illustrated by a popular hashtag through social media: #MeatlessMonday, started by a non-profit health initiative.

The hashtag encourages a small, manageable, and realistic goal for everyone to try to meet every week.

Unfortunately, not everyone is so flexible to change their consumption habits.

Due to the extreme unlikelihood of the necessary rapid change, the UN report states that taxing carbon dioxide emissions would be required to have any chance at stopping not just the environmental, but the economical damage to come.

“I used to eat meat with almost every meal,” says Amy Avakian, a college student majoring in environmental science. “I started watching documentaries and learning more about the environmental impacts made through supporting the meat and dairy industry, and I had to make a change.” She is now fully vegan.

We’ve heard warnings of global warming for years, and some might be wondering, what’s the real harm of the temperature rising a few degrees? To put it in perspective, the climate shift between present day and the ice age is dangerously close to just a few degrees.

Address your diet and see what small changes you can make. Meatless Mondays, switching out dairy milk for an alternative, possibly even incorporating one fully plant-based meal into each of your days. The time is now, the opportunities are there, and the responsibility is ours.


Consider the (Milk) Alternatives

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Who could forget the “Got Milk?” posters plastered around school cafeterias all over the country? Milk used to be viewed as nothing less than a great source of calcium, or the key to healthy bones and teeth. Now, according to the global market research firm Mintel, alternative milk sales in America have grown by 61 percent in the past five years.

Some up-and-coming plant-based milk companies have realized the millennial family market is the target audience. The food pyramid that was used in our schools was partially created by individuals who work for the dairy industry, which might have something to do with the recommendation to drink three cups of milk per day. Dairy consumption has been linked to acne, cancers, and heart disease due to the hormone IGF-1. The dairy industry is costly on our water resources and a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

With all of these negative impacts, and over half of US consumers now regularly purchasing milk alternatives, maybe it’s something to consider. Almond milk is a widely used and loved alternative, as well as easy to make! Here in San Luis Obispo, we are home to Bliss Cafe, which offers a wide variety of plant-based dishes. A representative of Bliss Cafe, Johnni Bee, shared that they have homemade almond milk as well.

“It’s so simple. We just blend our almonds, add a bit of salt and vanilla, and then strain out the pulp using a milk bag. If we’re adding it to smoothies, we don’t drain the pulp,” Johnni explained.

Plant-based milk, like almond milk, is much lower in calories and fat than dairy milk, and is much better for the environment. Just remember, homemade almond milk will only last up to four days in your fridge.

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