Why did you go vegan? My friend Leo was bewildered about my drastic lifestyle change. We grew up together, so he knew that I’m the kind of person who’s accustomed to meat and dairy every meal. Why the sudden change? Leo reiterated.
Leo isn’t the first person who’s curious about my decision to abstain from consuming animal products. As a new vegan, I’ve encountered diverse reactions — from bewilderment to occasional admiration to dismissal.
The Rookie Vegan
Believe me. At first, I had a tough time quitting my favorite foods Serrano ham and Manchego cheese. But now, I’m so glad I did.
I’ve always tried to make sure I eat healthily and have regular physical activity despite my busy schedule. However, it was only six months ago when I decided to join my fiancée Brittany in veganism.
Brittany has been a vegan for six years now. She enjoys the lifestyle so much; she radiates happiness. Hence, it’s impossible not to want to experience the same thing.
Brittany and I go to the grocery store every Saturday. I used to grab for dairy, ham, and sausages. However, ever since I’ve followed her plant-based diet, I’ve also stocked up on fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices.
Sometimes we would even cook together. She would teach me how to whip up great-tasting vegan dishes using edible essential oils. After a delicious meal, we’d usually unwind by watching TV or checking the latest sports betting odds online.
Optimizing Vegan Diet
Quitting meat can be challenging, especially for someone like me who lifts weights. Fortunately, Brittany supported me every step of the way. My trainer, Edward, who’s also a vegan, helped me optimize my diet for strength training.
Edward shared his five-step approach to ensuring our nutrition supports our health, fitness, and physique goals.
Quality of the Nutrition
According to Edward, food in its natural state is the most nutrient-dense and health-promoting. So I started eating tofu with stir fry veggies and rice for lunch, and then snacking on apples with almond butter in the afternoon.
Eating the right amount of calories is essential for both physique goals and athletic performance. To help me set my calorie goal, Edward recommended I work with a nutritionist.
Since the concept of calories doesn’t exist in veganism, I needed a certain amount of energy to fuel my body, whether I get it from a vegan source or not. Since I’m very active, Edward’s advice is to consume a larger volume of vegan food to get the same calories from meat sources.
Macronutrients or macros are nutrients that our bodies need in the most considerable amounts. These are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Each has unique functions, and we need each in different ratios depending on our training, lifestyle, and goals.
In my case, I plan to get half of my calories from carbohydrates (whole, nutrient-dense sources whenever possible), 20 to 30% from healthy fats, and 20 to 25% from protein.
I usually start with strength training first thing in the morning except on Saturdays. I fuel up with a small, easily digestible snack, such as banana and nut butter, or a protein shake before working out.
Edward suggested that I take vitamin B12, protein powder, and creatine.
I find protein powder very convenient as I can get 25 grams of protein without any carbs or fats. It’s a great option since I’m a pretty busy person. I also take vegan gummies with sleep-inducing melatonin to help me relax at night.
Where Do You Get Your Protein?
Another frequent question people ask me is where I get my protein.
As a vegan who strength-trains, it’s about protein density and variety. So, I always eat various protein-dense foods, such as tofu, red lentil, chickpea, black bean, and edamame. I sometimes supplement with a plant-based protein powder to get all the amino acids I need.
Animal Rights and Veganism
Aside from the fact that I want to lead a healthier lifestyle, another important reason I chose to go vegan is to be kind to animals and improve their plight.
Brittany as an animal rights advocate has had a significant influence on me. Now that I'm a vegan, I feel like I can alleviate many animals' needless suffering and deaths.
I refuse to be cruel to animals. I also don’t want to take part in the destruction of tropical rainforests and wildlife habitats. Imagine the massive devastation of rainforests to raise cattle and the enormous amount of energy to grow grains to feed them.
Some feedlots are even crowded and filthy with open sewers and choking air. The animals would not have survived at all if they hadn’t been injected with antibiotics regularly.
Animals in modern factory farms are routinely injected with hormones and stimulants to make them grow faster and bigger. Many dairy ranchers also use RBGH or recombinant bovine growth hormone to enhance milk production. RBGH is a chemical that has been implicated in causing illnesses such as cancer.
I know some people will not agree with me. Others may even laugh at my plant-based diet, but I don’t care. Many people, I think, are still uncomfortable with the truth and the perceived animal cruelty.
I’m not judging meat-eaters, but I hope they also don’t judge me. I’m proud of my decision to eat healthily regardless of what other people may think.