Following our previous blog 5 Simple Ways to Make your Workout more Eco-friendly I watched Game Changers; a documentary about the physical benefits of going Vegan. I had hoped it would motivate me to take it one step further but personally I am struggling to commit to such a drastic change. One member of our amazing Vertex APRL community, has recently adopted a Vegan diet and written this post for us to share with you his reasons for doing so.
There are many factors that lead people to a vegan lifestyle, and to be clear, I was only ever intending to convert to a plant-based diet. I have made no particular effort to be vegan in other areas of my life. Every time people have asked me why I made the change, and trust me, every vegan is asked this question, I have had a conflict in my head about the reasons I should give them. Let me explain….
The main reason for me was personal challenge – this was something I felt I needed, and I
was going to bring a new challenge into my life in some shape or form. A saying that has always stuck with me is “If you’re not on the edge, you’re taking up too much room”. It reminds me that the comfort zone isn’t somewhere I necessarily want to be it’s such an important thing to push your own boundaries. I was drawn to veganism because I know I have been guilty of saying “I could never be a vegan”.
I was also interested in the effects on my body and health– as an athlete, diet is important to me. I am a great believer that diet is one of, if not the most important factor that people can change to make a significant impact on their life. I am finding it easier to get up in the morning and I have more energy throughout the day. I don’t think I had a particularly bad diet before - in fact it was rather good, with mostly home cooked meals with lots of vegetables and a relatively small amount of highly processed foods, but it was not anywhere close to vegan. In fact, I was a large fan of bacon sandwiches and chicken curry. I would say that a very small number of my meals, if any, were vegan.
Finally, the environmental/ ecological reasons – having been raised in an eco-conscious household, the effect I have on the environment is definitely something I think about. I will not bore you with statistics about the adverse impacts of meat and dairy production, as I’m sure you have seen many of them before, but environmental and ethical factors are incredibly important to me (and probably one of the things that appeal most to me about Vertex Apparel). However, the reason these factors are lower on my personal list of reasons for choosing an entirely plant-based diet is because I think veganism isn’t the only way to combat these issues. Personally, I am not against the consumption of animal products in general but am concerned by the unsustainable way this is being done. Humans have eaten animal products for centuries, and realistically will continue to do so, but the ways in which meat is processed so it no longer resembles the animal it came from is something I can’t get my head around.
As I made the shift to a vegan diet, I was keen to think more about what I was eating and be more inventive with my cooking. This worked really well in the beginning but quickly I found myself cooking the same meals over and over again (stir fry has saved me because it’s so quick and easy to add tofu as a protein source!) It has been a challenge now I've found myself falling into the same rut that I had tried so hard to get out of, but I think that as I gain more confidence with the variety of plant-based meals, it will become easier to expand my repertoire.
In conclusion, I have really enjoyed my venture into changing my diet and, three months in, I’m planning to continue to enjoy the benefits I feel I have gained from it. However, it has not been without its challenges. There are lots of things I have struggled with, most notably when my family are eating what used to be one of my favourite dishes and I am not. This has been tough but in general my family have been incredibly supportive of my choice and I would have struggled to keep it up if it wasn’t for them. However, I have had to be pragmatic about food choices when away from home…A handball camp in January and a ski trip to Switzerland in February proved to be a challenge too far and I succumbed to cheese and hot chocolate!
So, would I recommend a vegan diet? A question I have been asked a lot and the answer has always been ‘yes’. Even if just to start by being “more” vegan: incorporating one or two vegan meals a week into your diet and building it up slowly while simultaneously decreasing your consumption of meat and dairy (environmental ‘brownie’ points). Maybe it will not work for you, but you won’t know if you don’t give it a go. For me, this has been about seeing myself personal challenge, confronting my comfort zone and pushing my limits. As we all know, the world belongs to the brave, so I encourage you to take up your own personal challenge, whatever that might be, and step out of your comfort zone.