Plant Based Living…
The words conjure up a feeling of different emotions, stereotypes, connotations and points of view on all sides of the spectrum.
Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past few years, you will have an idea of what Veganism is. Veganism is a growing movement in the UK and around the globe.
Veganism is a lifestyle where people will not eat meat, dairy or any food produced directly or indirectly from an animal.
Vegan’s won’t buy any product containing parts of an animal, its bi-products or any products tested on animals (animal leather, some cosmetics, toiletries, the full list is quite scary).
In 2016 The Vegan Society commissioned research that found that there were over half a million vegans in Great Britain. That is three and a half times as many as estimated in 2006 and the trend is only growing.
Subsequently, according to a new survey by comparethemarket.com there has been a significant spike in the number of people going vegan in the UK since 2016, with more than 3.5 million British people now identifying as such.
Male vegans account for about 37% of this number.
Levels of awareness are growing, especially due to high-profile documentaries such as “Earthlings”, celebrity converts and a high level of social media presence and engagement.
I am not here to preach about the subject or try to convert you (that’s really not my style). I am here to give you an insight into life as a male vegan and some of the benefits / issues you may experience. Like anything in life there are two sides to every story and there are many ways to skin a cat. (Vegans don’t condone the skinning of cats either 😉 )
Here are 10 Thing’s I’ve Learned as a Vegan Man.
1. You will not die from lack of protein
Protein is a macro-nutrient just like Carbohydrates and Fats. When your food is broken down, your body has no idea whether your protein has come from meat or a plant-based source. As long as you are eating enough grams of protein to fuel your lifestyle then you will be fine. You won’t die or wither away. Trust me 😉
If you are an athlete of some form, a bodybuilder, gymnast, CrossFit’er or alike, then your protein requirements will be a lot higher than the average human being. Aim for around 2 grams of protein for every kilogram you weigh and you will be able to achieve your goals like any other meat-eating athlete.
Just Google “vegan athletes” and you will come across an array of top-level athletes following this lifestyle who are competing at the highest levels of competition. A few well-known vegan athletes include: Venus and Serena Williams (Tennis), David Haye (Heavyweight Boxer), Jermaine Defoe (Footballer), John Joseph (Ironman), Mac Danzig (MMA), David Meyer (Brazillian Jiu Jitsu), Patrik Baboumian (Strongman), David Cater (NFL), Tia Blanco (Surfer), Carl Lewis (Athletics), Kendrick Yahcob Farris (Olympic Weightlifter) and many more.
I was able to add 7kg of lean muscle and become the strongest I have ever been whilst being vegan. For those of you interested; at 74kg and just under 10% body fat, I can do 5 strict pull ups with a weight of 25kg, 5 dips with a weight of 40kg and hit an intermediate level of strength on all major compound lifts such as back squat, bench press, deadlift and military press.
There is no requirement to eat meat and dairy if strength, aesthetics or athletic performance are your goals.
If you’re still not convinced then this guide will ensure you can reach all your athletic goals while living a vegan lifestyle – www.menshealth.co.uk/food-nutrition/the-beginners-vegan-muscle-guide.
2. You will be healthier and your energy levels should increase
You will feel and look healthier, noticing an improvement in your energy levels and cognitive abilities provided you are adopting a healthy and balanced vegan lifestyle. You must ensure that all your macro and micro-nutrients requirements are being met.
I am not saying you can’t achieve this with a meat based diet but I am saying there are no limitations that a vegan lifestyle will bring to your life. There is strong evidence that suggests you are more likely to consume higher volumes of vitamins and minerals living a vegan lifestyle. This will in-turn increase your energy levels.
I would highly recommend downloading MyFitnessPal to track your nutritional intake and to ensure that you are getting all the correct doses of macro / micro-nutrients as well as vitamins and minerals.
Vegan lifestyles also tend to be lower in saturated fats and cholesterol. I am not going to go through all the health benefits so if you would like to know more, then check out the articles at www.healthline.com and www.nursingdegree.net.
3. You can find vegan alternatives to all your favourite foods
Over the past few years veganism has gone mainstream. There are now a myriad of products on the market being sold to vegan consumers. It’s big business so a lot of the major food brands are starting to follow this trend. There are plenty of vegan milks, ice creams, cheeses, ‘fake’ meats, sweets, chocolates and more.
Brand names and restaurants such as Ben and Jerry’s, The Boston Tea Party, Zizzi, Pret A Manger, Harvester, Wetherspoon’s, Nando’s, Guinness, Subway, Starbucks, just to name a few, are all catching on to the vegan trend.
4. You will (have to) become a better cook and washing up becomes easier
There are an array of succulent vegan dishes plastered all over Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and the alike. The limitations on your food option are only limited by your own mind and your culinary skills. Websites like the Minimalist Baker are devoted to simple cooking. All their recipes contain 10 or less ingredients and take 30 minutes or less to cook.
You will have to get familiar with foods such as tempeh, tofu, seitan, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, buckwheat, quinoa, avocados, the list goes on and on. Get yourself a cookbook or google your way through all the tasty recipes out there. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
Another perk of the vegan lifestyle is that less meat and dairy, means washing up become a hell of a lot easier. There’s no animal fat to scrub off. A quick win for everyone!
5. People will want to ask you questions about your new lifestyle
People will be fascinated with your change and like anything in life, will have their own opinions and beliefs on the subject of veganism. This is fine. Go with it, be honest and answer their questions. Spreading the awareness in a non-preachy or judgmental manner is only going to help the cause. A small win such as a friend eating less meat is a better than where they were yesterday.
No-one wants to be told that eating meat is morally or ethically wrong and remember you may have ate meat and dairy once upon a time. Rather than impose the negative aspects of a meat based diet, discuss the positive aspects of a vegan lifestyle. Reframing the situation into a positive view is a powerful strategy.
If you are like me, you won’t even want to talk about the subject. It’s just one aspect of who you are and your life. It’s a decision you made for yourself and no-one else. Just do your thing and you will be surprised by the number of people who gravitate to your positive nature.
6. Your Testosterone levels will be higher
People assume that men that are Vegan have lower testosterone levels. This a myth that has been perpetuated by the meat and dairy industry to try to influence people’s decisions. Like anything in life, think for yourself and try it for yourself. Life’s an experiment and it’s personal to you.
A British Journal of Cancer study of 696 men (233 of whom were vegans) concluded this: “Vegans had 13% higher testosterone concentration than meat-eaters and 8% higher than vegetarians.”
In my personal experience, I found an increase in testosterone levels which then slightly decreased as I lowered my calorie intake to a deficit in order to lose body fat. This is very normal and I expect it to rise again once I raise my calorie intake back to a maintenance or higher level.
7. You will become part of a community
Vegans are a social bunch. You will find plenty of conversations, groups and events on social media and in the real world. I would recommend linking in with these networks. Sometimes it can feel isolating and tough being the only male vegan in the village.
8. You will get a hell of a lot of banter from your friends
If you are a man and a vegan, then expect a lot banter from your friends for being different. Take this with a pinch of salt as anything you do against the status quo is going to be a great topic for discussion. Go with it, don’t take yourself too serious and give back as much as you get. Your friends are still your friends and you might even influence a few to adapt their lifestyles. Stay true to yourself and remember why you made the decision. It’s all water of a ducks back from there. Try to stay positive, non-preachy and refrain from taking the moral high ground. People will be more inclined to listen to you that way.
9. You will become mentally stronger
Adopting a vegan lifestyle is no easy feat. Temptation lurks at every corner and sometimes you can feel like you are going it alone. Every day you stay true to yourself and your decision is another day that makes your mentally stronger. Take this mental strength into other aspects of your life and you will be surprised at all the other goals and milestones you smash.
10. You will be part of an ethical movement that directly invokes positive change in the world
You only have to turn on the news for 5 minutes today and you are inundated with negative stories about political unrest, power struggles, war, famine, deforestation, animal cruelty, global warming, the list goes on.
There is one simple step that you can take today to instantly decrease the amount of suffering in the world. THAT’S GOING VEGAN!
This was the main reason why I personally went vegan. I wanted to make a positive change to my life and take a stand against the unnecessarily slaughter of animals just to feed my culinary desires. I indirectly killed animals just to satisfy my taste buds. It doesn’t get much more selfish than that.
I am going to leave you with a quote to ponder on.
“To my mind the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man”
So that’s the end of my blog. Please let me know your experiences of being a vegan whatever your gender and any comments are welcome.
Good luck in your journey and as a parting gift here are 17 tips that will help you go vegan from Buzz Feed.