This year has been a year of discovery for me. In January I made the stereotypical resolution to join the gym and become a fitter and healthier version of me. To my surprise, I became hooked: now if I go a few days without visiting the gym I feel restless. Then, after much research and many YouTube videos watched, I made the decision to become vegan in August 2016.
My free time became spent furiously googling in the hopes of finding vegan, cruelty free, affordable skincare products, whilst asking myself why on earth red pepper stuffed olives contain milk products. One thing that I didn’t question was how my new lifestyle would affect my foray into fitness. Largely, that’s because I didn’t think it would. That is, until I heard my personal trainer friend’s response to hearing that I was ditching animal products: ‘You’re going vegan?’ he laughed ‘Well you can say goodbye to all the gains you’ve been making then!’
By this point I’d become quite attached to my (miniscule) muscles, and the conversation sent me stepping backwards: did I need meat and dairy in order to build muscle and progress with my fitness goals? The simple answer: no.
Your body does need protein. Protein is made up of amino acids, which form the building blocks of muscle, allowing your body to repair, maintain, and grow muscle tissue. When the majority of people think of protein sources, they think of meat and fish. As you become vegan and become more in tune with where your food comes from, you quickly realise that finding protein in a vegan diet is simple: beans, pulses, cereals, nuts, soy (think tofu, tempeh, milk etc), seeds and green vegetables are all foods abundant in protein.
So here’s a friendly reminder to all those fitness ‘gurus’ out there who scoff at your desire to live an ethical, cruelty-free lifestyle and spend some time at the gym: the only male US weightlifter to qualify for this year’s Olympic Games is vegan. The gains are here to stay.