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Becoming a Vegetarian

Although I’ve often thought about becoming a vegetarian, I’ve never really considered it a serious option as I simply enjoy eating meat too much.

In fact I used to look at vegetarians as a bit weird and felt sorry for them, how could anyone enjoy a life without steak, chicken, sausages etc??

It’s not that I am not an animal lover, I probably prefer them to most humans if I’m honest. All of my pets have been ridiculously spoilt and I always feed stray animals when visiting other countries, regardless of who is telling me not to. It’s just that in reality eating meat is part of the world that we live in and be it right or wrong, me choosing not to isn’t going to change anything.

From a professional viewpoint, protein is vital to build and repair muscles. I’ve always seen animal based protein as the best source of protein and vital for recovery, so again there wasn’t the need or desire to change.

I have to stress I have never been one to jump on the latest fad bandwagon, in fact I will always be the one to do the complete opposite because that’s me. However after watching the recent Game Changers documentary, I made the decision to go vegetarian before it had even finished.

I appreciate that most things we watch have the ability to manipulate the truth but there were two main points that really stuck with me…

1. Animal proteins are less ‘clean’ than plant based proteins, which overtime contribute to blockages in our system.

2. Two outstanding feats (I won’t spoil by saying which) achieved by vegans, one endurance based and the other strength based.

There is no way I was considering being a vegan, it’s just too limiting and finding decent vegan products locally to fit in with my schedule, is virtually impossible. Vegetarianism on the other hand, seemed to be a far less extreme option.

As I hadn’t been eating that much meat anyway, in principle it seemed pretty easy. Vegetable burgers were easy to find and with a bit of imagination, noodles, rice and some Thai sauce, I could see a vegetarian cookbook on the horizon.

And for a week it was ok and I admit to feeling a lot better both mentally and physically. There were a few sad face moments, particularly when reaching for my beloved salmon dip and then realising it was now out of bounds. I did consider just having it anyway and not telling anyone but then I remembered my age and put it back.

I was keen to see how it may have affected my fitness and decided to have a little work out on the bags at the gym. Unless you are training in an empty gym, a PT/Boxing Coach working out will understandably attract attention. People want to see that you can do all of the things that you have been asking them to do on a daily basis…and you have to perform.

I’m not sure if it was the switch to becoming a vegetarian, the pressure of training with others or just luck but I soon realised that I had done 4 x 3 min rounds without stopping! Normally even when others are watching, I would be secretly willing the end of the round, to regain a bit of composure. On this occasion, no. It gave me a lot to think about, as I wasn’t really expecting that at all.

So the next challenge was food shopping, which is something I usually just fit in, when my busy schedule allows. I only shop for myself, I’m a big boy and so I didn’t really see any potential problems…

Thirty minutes of frustration later and I had toothpaste, fruit juice, bread, bin bags and very little else! No carbonara sauce, none of that nice Italian ham for my toasties and once again no salmon, in dip form or otherwise. Maybe I should have prepared a bit more but even if I had, the choice was poor. I could stand in my piny making vegetable burgers on a Sunday but I’m really busy and want to spend my spare time doing other things.

Despite the setback I persevered and ate mainly frozen vegetable burgers and pasta for the next week but with a Birthday trip to Italy on the horizon, I had a decision to make. The Italians are famous for their food and like everything else I do, I wanted to enjoy the experience as much as I could. However as I am now supposed to be a vegetarian, I was going to have give the ham, sausages etc at a miss!

I’m not going to lie, I considered it for a full 10 seconds…I wasn’t prepared to sit and watch others eat amazing food on my birthday, while I ate vegetables and a few seeds.

Upon returning after a fantastic trip, I suppose that I had made my own conclusion whether being a vegetarian was for me. There’s no doubting that I felt physically better not eating meat but it’s too restrictive for me and I want to enjoy life.

I will continue to eat vegetarian Monday – Friday and if I am training for a specific event, then I will extend that to everyday as part of my training plan. I’ve felt the benefits to my fitness, so it can only help.

Weekends will be eat what I want, it won’t be a meat fest but they will free from any restrictions.

I always believed that it’s best to moderate rather than deny, as you don’t feel that you are missing out. If you tell most people that they can’t have something, they want it more than before. Yes it’s important to be fit and healthy but it’s more important for me to be happy in life, as it could all end tomorrow.

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