Monday, August 13, 2018

what is is with being vegan?

I have had a beard for around seven years now. During that time it has been various lengths and bushiness but ever present. This is relevant as it actually predates the beard fashion by a couple of years. Something people do not know and why should they? 

When I get asked about it and say that I have had it for a while I get sideways looks as if to say, “really?” 

The point of this is that while there are trends, I also ride a single speed bike to work wear statement glasses and run ultramarathons, not all things that we do were as a result of a trend. What has this got to do with eating a vegan diet?

I have been vegan for a little over three years now. It started, like most, with a move to vegetarianism and there was a moment. There was a flash of lightning that came from a Rich Roll Podcast and specifically episode 160 on July 19th 2015 and an interview with David Carter. It was this that prompted me to make the full change and remove dairy from my diet. 

On reflection it seems weird that you can be vegetarian and still consume eggs, milk and cheese. I stop short of describing myself as vegan as on occasion I do eat some dairy, never in the pure form but sometimes in cooking. I always try to avoid it but if there is little option then I will. If you want to label me I am >99% plant based. There’s a t-shirt slogan right there.

What I experience a lot is a sense of defensiveness that I get from people that ask me about it. I do not go around banging the drum for this at all but if I am asked I will explain my motivation and the impact that it has had on me and my health.

How do know there’s a vegan at a cocktail party? Don’t worry they will tell you.

When asked I normally cite the following reasons and outcomes;
  • RRP Podcast and specifically the David Carter interview
  • Netflix documentaries; Cowspiracy, What the Health, Forks over Knives etc
  • Injuries from running that have a connection to consumption of dairy (tendonitis issues that milk is known to inflame)
  • Stopped dairy and injuries cleared up, skin better, feel much better (generally feel much less gloopy) and have abundant energy
  • Weight is consistent and not an issue
  • Recovery from long runs is amazing
  • Read some books (China Study, Eat and Run and some blogs and posts by vegan runners; Mike Wardian, Rob Krar, Sage Canaday etc etc)
  • Immersed myself in the online culture (, Neal Barnard MD, Ray Cronise etc etc etc)
  • No-one will ever tell you to eat less fruits and veggies
I explain this, largely I feel, without prejudice. Remember I have been asked about this, I am not the idiot at the cocktail party.

When I start talking I notice that almost without exception people get defensive and judgemental of themselves but as though it was coming from me. I then find myself apologising for something I have not done and explaining that while it works for me it isn’t for everyone. My wife is around >75% vegan but my kids really are not all (although they do like vegan ice-cream and soya iced coffee) as it should be they do what they want. So why do people get defensive?

I think the main one is animal rights. You might have noticed that I omitted this from the list above. Being totally honest this was not part of the agenda for me when I started out. It was a selfish motivation that was almost exclusively around me being a better runner. However as I have gotten more involved and consumed more vegan materials online you cannot fail to be affected by animal cruelty that takes place on an industrial scale. I do not reference this unless asked as it is emotional and provocative. The vegan at the cocktail party I suspect would reference this almost immediately. 

When you are described as vegan then this is where people immediately leap in terms of motivation and why you would be. They know about it and like much of human kind choose to ignore something that counters their version of their life. We all do this on a wide range of topics and choices. This doesn’t make us wrong it makes us human. We love nothing more than what we know our are bad habits being validated however tenuously. Someone shining a light on that makes us uncomfortable and by extension can often make us defensive. We feel the need to defend our way of living even though it is not under attack.

So if you ask me why I’m vegan and I answer your question remember that you asked me and I am just answering your question. I’m not selling anything and it comes with no judgement from me. 

Anything you feel as a result of that is down to you as is any action you do or do not take.

Oh and i get my protein from the same place a gorilla does.