Living the Vegan Lifestyle - when it "clicks"
My vegan journey started back in the summer of 2012. After already starting to make healthier changes related to eating and exercise, I wanted a new challenge to push myself to the next level.
Luckily for me, I happened to be scrolling through Netflix and came across the documentary “Forks Over Knives.” Everyone has those moments in their life when they see or hear something, and it just clicks. That’s exactly what happened to me.
"I didn’t even know what the word vegan meant!"
Why was I putting this harmful food into my body that eventually led to disease and cancer?
Everything just made sense. Why was I putting this harmful food into my body that eventually led to disease and cancer? Despite having no previous interest in going vegetarian or vegan, I took the plunge.
Before I decided to go vegan, I didn’t even know what the word vegan meant! After a few weeks of going cold turkey (no pun intended), I found myself back in my old ways. Maybe it was due to habit, or maybe I hadn't researched enough, but quicker than I realized, chicken and other meats were back on my plate.
Not liking that I failed so quickly, I was determined to try again and stick it out longer. I decided to keep seafood on the menu and went through my transitioning pescatarian phase for about 2 months.
It was great! I thought I had completed the challenge and I could stop. I was fully willing to be a pescatarian for a long time to come. Little did I know, I was in for the biggest change of my life.
Going Vegan Completely Changed My Way of Thinking
After joining some vegetarian groups on facebook, I quickly started learning everything there was about the vegan lifestyle. After asking for some good documentaries in a group forum, I stumbled upon a film called “Earthlings.”
This would prove to be the biggest motivating factor of my eventual vegan lifestyle. I still had work to do. Immediately my motives changed and I became determined to never harm another animal again the rest of my life. I switched to organic eggs and dairy for another month or two before eventually eliminating them on November 23rd, 2012, fueled by more videos exposing the horrors of factory farming.
At this point, I was full on ethical vegan and wanted to share my experience with others. I was overwhelmed at first. I completely threw my ideals of health out the window and focused solely on helping to end the horrors I had witnessed.
Vegan Lifestyle: Ethical but not healthy
If it was vegan I would eat it. I filled myself with tons of processed foods and vegan alternatives. This combined with my cessation of exercise led me up to a weight of 215lbs after a year and a half. It was time to make a change. I so desperately wanted to show people the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, but I was not a shining example.
I struggled trying to inspire others through the documentaries that had changed me so easily. How could I make a better impact? I figured leading by example would be the best way. After some huge life changes, that is, going vegan and living the vegan lifestyle, I decided to join the gym and start working out again.
Using my previous knowledge of exercise and fitness, I was able to get back into it without much delay. It wasn’t without struggle though: a year and a half of eating terrible foods and not exercising catches up to you.
Initially I focused on losing weight like I had always done before. Five days a week at the gym and healthier meals definitely helped me achieve that goal. I restricted my calories and I lost 35 pounds! It was short lived. I was feeling deprived from constantly eating less than I burned, and it wore me thin. It was at that point that the final step of my transformation took place.
"I wanted to live the rest of my life exemplifying the benefits of a vegan diet"
I wanted to live the rest of my life exemplifying the benefits of a vegan diet without depriving myself or feeling restricted. I started lifting more weights and eating as close to the source as possible. I limited my processed foods and turned more to fruits, vegetables, smoothies, and whole grains. I stopped counting calories and listened to my body for cues on when and how much to eat as related to my training.
I found my niche! I wanted to inspire other men to change their lifestyles and show them you can be strong with plants."
After seeing gains in muscle size, I decided to continue training this way to prove you don’t have to sacrifice size and strength to be vegan. I found my niche! I wanted to inspire other men to change their lifestyles and show them you can be strong with plants. Check out my video message on Facebook about living the vegan lifestyle and being a man. Of course I wanted to appeal to everyone, but I felt a special need to appeal to more men, as they seemed to be harder to convert.
I started a page on facebook and became active on Instagram under the name The Vegan Manly Man to help share my journey and inspire others. I worked hard and used the animals as my inspiration. I was determined to make a difference. Five to six days a week of hard work and determination at the gym started to pay off. I was becoming the best version of myself I had ever been.
Any goal can be achieved equally if not better with a vegan lifestyle
Fast-forward to today, I continue to work to put on muscle and stay lean on a whole foods plant based diet. I still have my cheat days and my slip ups here and there, but that is part of life. I've made fitness part of my routine and part of who I am, along with healthy eating. I never feel deprived anymore, and I am the happiest, healthiest, most fit version of myself I have ever been. Not to mention, my spiritual, and emotional health has benefited greatly as well and continues to grow stronger with my lifestyle.
To any men reading this who are on the fence about change, it can be done! I am the most muscular I have ever been in my life and it’s all thanks to plants. You do not need to kill an animal to achieve fitness goals or gain size and strength. If you eat from the thousands of foods the earth has provided us with, and move your body like it was meant to, you will see results, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
To anyone else reading this who is also interested, the same principles apply. Any goal can be achieved equally if not better with a vegan lifestyle compared to a standard diet.
It was the best decision of my life
Who knows where my life would be if I had not made the change? I was definitely not going down the right path. I have the vegan lifestyle to thank for my incredible health, athleticism, spiritual and emotional well being, and overall happiness. It was the best decision of my life and the only thing I regret is not doing it sooner.
Are you trying to live a healthier lifestyle? What does your diet look like and are you happy with it? If you have questions or wanna share your experiences, leave a comment here or on Facebook.