I should start by saying I have come into this a little overweight but quite active, I make an effort to cycle regularly and have been pushing myself to try and run once a week.
Inspired by friends I cycle with as well as a few vegan athletes including Durianrider and VeganCyclist, I decided in early January to take on veganism for a minimum of 4 weeks to see how I found it and how it affected my body. The following is my account of changing my life to fit with a vegan lifestyle.
As a vegan of just over 2 weeks, nobody would call me an expert so take the following as such; I have fallen into it far more easily than I would have ever anticipated, I grew up basing most meals around meat but now I may stay vegan for the foreseeable future.
Leading up to it I was warned with all the regulars:
“You will struggle to get enough protein.”
“It takes a lot of time and effort to maintain.”
“It’s a very expensive diet.”
So far I’ve not suffered muscle wastage; spent all my days preparing food and chewing; or gone bankrupt trying to eat for the day. Far from it. Protein isn’t some mythical nutrient only found in meat. It’s abundant in most nuts and pulses.
I make my meals as I always have, in fact vegan cooking lends itself to bulk cooking making it easy to store portions in the fridge or freezer to take to work. My weekly shop has dropped in cost, I used to buy meat and cheese most weeks which is far more expensive than any vegetable for its weight.
As far as my experiences go there seems to be two ways to go about changing from an omnivorous to plant based lifestyle. One option is to find meat alternatives, they’re readily available and in some cases come almost unrecognisable from their meat based origins. On the other hand, I decided to avoid these and go clearly plant based; only eating basic fruits, vegetables, pulses and grains. I almost immediately felt healthier, my skin was clearer and I felt fresher. This is probably simply from eating more fresh fruit and vegetables and not eating meat which is heavy and slow to digest.
I think it’s important as with anything, to try different things, try the alternatives to see if they suit you. There are so many recipes and so much information about being vegan available online that there’s no excuse not to explore. Who knows, you may stumble onto a new favourite food.
Though I’m new to veganism I’m quite knowledgeable in having an active lifestyle. I’m a very keen cyclist, I’ve always ridden a bike, I used it to play on as a kid, I used it to ride to school and later work; I still do this, but in the last 5 years I’ve found the pleasure in riding for fitness and improving ability.
Many people believe that cycling is like the golf of the modern age, outside of the pro elite, it’s exclusive to the middle aged with deep pockets only available to those clad in £400 of Lycra atop a £4000 top of the line carbon race bike.
WRONG. All you need to get into cycling is a bike. Any bike. That bike that’s been sitting in your garage for a decade gathering dust is ideal. So it weighs a tonne. Excellent! All the better for fitting fit, fast and shedding weight.
Now I accept that not everyone takes to exercise like an elite athlete and no one is expected to race at a top level after 2 weeks, and sometimes it’s cold or rainy outside. (Especially those of us in northern Europe.) But as so many people say; “If you want to see results, you’ve got to get it done!”
Now running, that’s even more accessible, with running you can get a workout anywhere, all you need is a ratty pair of trainers relegated to the bottom of the shoe rack, underneath those walking boots you’ve worn once. Everyone has somewhere they can run and the time to do it, all it takes is a minimum to 20-30 minutes at least 3 times a week.
It will be hard but no one makes improvements by taking it easy. It’s clear to see my passion for exercise, this has been boosted by apps like Strava gamifying the sport and bringing out a competitiveness in everyone who uses it.
I think my ramblings sum up my experiences so far, and my views quite well.
Rory Baxter- As a reasonably new vegan but regular cyclist. Rory has decided to blog about his experiences with the lifestyle change so far.