Firstly – please let me wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR – and here’s hoping 2018 brings you health and happiness. I hope this brand new year has started well for you so far – mine is starting in a very different way this time as I’m waking up on New Years Day as a vegan. I’ve taken the Veganuary pledge, and for the next 31 days I will be eating an entirely plant-based diet. I haven’t eaten meat for over 10 years (for ethical reasons), but I have been eating fish, eggs and dairy, and so spending the next 5 weeks consuming no animal-based products whatsoever is most definitely going to be a challenge, but one that as an animal lover I am more than willing to take. But why take on something so huge in one of the most difficult months of the year? Read on to find out.
If you know me, you’ll know I love animals. Always have, always will (of course my beloved Khloe cat being my number one – as you can see above!) When I was younger and being bullied at school I often used to say that I preferred animals to people, and 30 or so years later I have to confess not a lot has changed. In fact you’ll remember that earlier this year I conquered my fear of heights by taking on the UK’s highest freefall abseil in order to raise money for the Mayhew Animal Home – a charity close to my heart. My pledge then was to try and use my social media and influence to help do something good in the world (other than inspire people to live their best active life), and I was proud to raise a sizeable sum for The Mayhew, but ever since then I’ve been wondering what else I could do or contribute to help more when it comes to spreading the message of animal welfare. Throughout the course of this year I’ve been both seeing and reading more and more about dairy farms and the horrendous treatment of cows in some of them, and so in October I stopped drinking cows milk – which I actually didn’t find too difficult, so this got me thinking about whether or not I could become a full vegan. I knew a few people who took part in Veganuary last year, but dismissed it at the time as something that was a great idea, but that I’d struggle to stick to as I work long and irregular hours, eat out a lot and have to consume a high amount of protein due to the intensity of my exercise and training schedule. But then I started to see more and more evidence of it not being as hard as I first thought to eat a high protein plant-based diet, and not only that but coming across many vegan bodybuilders on Instagram (most of whom are in incredible shape with no whey or omelettes in sight!) Then early in December I saw a tube poster advertising We Are Veganuary and asking people to take the challenge of becoming a vegan for one month. As soon as I checked out the @weareveganuary Instagram and saw the evidence they were posting of the cruelty of dairy farms and egg farms and the suffering some animals go through all in the name of food on our plate I knew I had to take the challenge, because as an animal lover I couldn’t be a part of this suffering and be okay with it. So I logged onto the Veganuary website, took the pledge, and signed up for my month as a vegan to start on 1st January.
I am excited, intrigued and slightly nervous for the next 31 days – but I am also very happy that even in some small way I am doing something positive for animals and for the environment, even by making these changes for a month. I also feel that as a Personal Trainer and Fitness Blogger it is actually pretty important to have at least tried a vegan diet, even for a short amount of time – as something that is gaining popularity and becoming more mainstream I believe it’s important to be able to give my balanced viewpoint and personal experience of being a vegan to my clients, followers and class members. I do sometimes get asked where vegans get their protein sources from, but as up until now I’ve most relied on fish, eggs, greek yogurt, protein shakes/bars and cottage cheese for mine, I’ve never really been able to advise. Being plant-based will force me to be more creative in the kitchen and also on the go when it comes to my diet. I am also intrigued to see how my body responds. Will I lose or gain weight? Will I be tired or feel more energised? Will I feel hungry all the time? Will I see a decrease in my strength? Will my skin look better and will my bloating reduce? I’m looking forward to knowing the answers to all of these questions through 5 weeks of personal experience, and I am also very excited to share my journey and my progress with you!
I’ve done my first “weekly shop” as a vegan – I had an Ocado delivery today (which is my normal weekly “big shop” method as we live in central London and don’t have a car). I was actually super impressed that when I logged into Ocado and typed “vegan” into the search box it actually brought up an entire vegan sub-shop with an absolutely vast range of products to choose from. I plan on being as plant-based as I can over the next month, but by the same token I do also work long hours (often late nights) and need to have some quick and easy meal options to hand, so I have also ordered some meat substitute products like fishless fingers and veggie burgers to keep in the freezer. I didn’t actually realise until two days ago that not all Quorn products are vegan – in fact the vast majority of them contain egg or milk – so that prompted a little bit of a rethink. I also only clocked yesterday that most of the supplements I take (collagen for my skin, CLA to boost my metabolism and support muscle growth and probiotics for my digestion) would have to be replaced with vegan supplements – some were vegetarian but some contained collagen or gelatine, so I hopped onto Amazon and found some vegan alternatives. Just two of my “newly vegan” learnings this week – I am sure there will be plenty more!
I will most definitely blog again at the end of January, as my Veganary challenge comes to an end to update you with my experiences of month as a vegan – but in the meantime if you want to see more regular updates make sure you’re following me on Instagram – @wildcatfit to see what I’m eating and how I’m feeling!
And please know that it isn’t too late to take the Veganuary challenge and join me! If you’d like to do something positive for animals, the planet and your body then check out the Veganuary website and take the pledge yourself – the truth is none of us will know what life as a vegan is like until we try it.
If you have any questions about Veganuary and my reasons for taking part, please drop me a comment below, or DM me on Instagram. Please also note that this post and indeed my Veganuary challenge is in no way sponsored – this is very much something I have decided to do by myself and for myself. And I’d love to ask for your support – as would the animals!