I didn’t think it was possible, for the most part I thought vegans were crazy, and while I agreed meat and egg production was cruel, I thought that to be healthy you needed protein and that source came from meat.
The reason I made the change was because I had moved out and began buying my own food. Based off of a popular ‘gymrat’ diet IIFYM (if it fits your macros) I realised I could hit my desired macro-nutrients.
The idea behind IIFYM is simple, you aim for a certain amount of carbs, fats and protein in a day, for example; 150 grams of protein, 350 grams of carbs and 80 grams of fat.
With that in mind, I changed to a plant based diet and aimed for those goals. My food was boring, cheap and most importantly filling. I was spending under 3 euros a day on food and keep in mind I was getting 3,500 calories in.
It was hard to eat what felt like such large amounts, but eventually I got used to it and it wasn’t so much of a bother.
When I wanted to splashed out an extra couple of euros I would make bean burritos, which I stand by as delicious to anyone and everyone.
I lost a lot of weight very quickly, which I put down to my very high fibre diet, drinking a lot of water and eating very low sodium (not out of intention).
For a while my strength was unaffected, I still deadlifted the same amount and I could squat and shoulder press more than ever before at 7 kilograms lighter.
Eventually I lost too much weight and my strength declined. I was down to 72 kilos at 6 ft tall. By then I had decided I wanted to put on weight and I struggled with this a lot.
I had to change my diet, but I found I needed a lot of food just to put on any weight and the extra load of food was very hard to manage. After a lot of diet manipulation, I managed to put on 3 kilos and was eating about 5,000 calories a day.
Another big diet change soon came about as I began eating a lot more carbs and not eating much protein, and subsequently my weight shot up pretty quickly.
I went from 75 to 81 kilos over a month and a half, perhaps too quickly.
However my strength shot up (very reassuring for me) and I was eating 6,000 calories a day and enjoying the food I was eating.
Since then, I’ve changed many times. I’ve since realised I don’t need a whole lot of protein and carbs aren’t the evil villain I’ve been told they are.
A lot else has happened since that has affected my eating patterns and my training programs changed again and again,
I tried Wendler, 5×5 and HIT training and I went from a college student with 13 hours a week to a co-op placement of 40 hours a week.
However, it’s taught me some things, and from my own experience, I feel healthier as a vegan. This is probably because I don’t ever pig out with, the exception of a burrito which is just beans, rice, salsa and a wrap. This contrasts greatly to my previous pig out sessions of ice cream, McDonalds and a selection of chocolate bars.
I originally thought I’d waste away and not be able to continue weightlifting as one of my hobbies, become I was malnourished and drained of energy.
Instead I’ve found another world featuring Patrick Baboumian, Frank Medrano and Jim Morris, a short list of the many vegan athletes. I feel more energetic and I’ve been encouraged by my lack of choice to try new wonderful foods and I can be a part of something that I really believe is doing the world some good.
The only downside I’ve found is it’s a little irritating to eat out (but there’s a vegan restaurant in the city anyway).
What I’ve realised this past year is that all of my previous assumptions about vegans were wrong, they are not necessarily weak and unhealthy. It is not expensive to eat vegan and it is not boring to eat vegan (but you’ll probably have to make it yourself and make the effort).
For myself, I can still train hard, eat well (and cheaply) and now do something I think is right and make a little difference in the world.
Really my best advice to anyone is to give it a try. I know most people think like I did, but I promise you, if you eat enough (enough is a lot) then you’ll be able to live life as you do now regardless if you train like a ‘beast’ or just play soccer for fun.
Photo: Jennifer/ Flickr