When I take into account all the different types of lives people have to live in London it overwhelms me with such a feeling of insignificance that it makes it feel like it would be impossible to have the positive effect on my community in the way I would like to make.
Many of you may think I mean this in the sense of ‘making a name’ for myself or ‘fame’. But actually, what I’m talking about is the desire to help create a change in my community that aligns with the change I would like to see in the world – the change that helps people live a healthier life and helps the world be better place at the same time.
These words shoot through me up like drug and send me into a cascade of desires and wishes that end up making me feel like I’m not doing enough – reality is, it probably will never be enough.
These words have been the driving forces behind the majority of my decisions and eventually to what pushed me to my chosen diet just over 2 years ago. “You can’t be an environmentalist and not be plant-based” – that one was like a thunderbolt to the heart and it worked on me immediately.
Being a well-being ‘preacher’ when it comes to exercise and lifestyle, I’ve been careful not to fall into the trap of ‘activist’, although I have flirted with the boundaries a few times in the past.
But, the word activist definitely has some, correctly or incorrectly, negative connotations for me. It suggests that I may be an extreme individual that is angry with the world or judgemental of others.
Someone who you definitely do not want to invite round for dinner and probably not a person who you want to get as your personal trainer!
After all, people don’t need more stressful conversations about the state of the world and all the things they could be doing to make it a better place – or do they?
People in my community can get confused by whether to eat breakfast or not, have juice or not and where’s ‘healthy’ to go for lunch let alone think about changing the world. But could we be more open minded?
We – ‘Londoners’ – are always under an imaginary time pressure, often stressed and always loaded with responsibilities. Too many to start thinking about an upheaval of our entire diet, routine and shopping options…right?
It nags at the back of my mind, what more could we be doing?
The definite truth is, you can’t force people to think like you.
So, I never try to do that.
But, if you can explain why you’ve decided to make a big decision, people may relate and that cause cause a healthy conversation to develop.
This conversation started for me, as I mentioned before, when the question of the effect on our environment was raised. I had never thought eating chicken, beef or lamb as a question of damaging our environment. So I began to dig deeper. When I found out agriculture was responsible for more co2 production than every plane, train, car and motorbike put together (1) I started to really feel the pressure.
Then the buddhist inside me started to find bigger holes in my approach until now, I realised I had been calling cows, pigs and sheep, “beef, pork and lamb” for 25 years. I had avoided calling the meat on my plate it’s animal name as, unknowingly, I had ignored the thought of it being an animal in the first place.
I would never have even considered the idea of sitting down to a ‘leg of baby cat’, ‘fillet of horse’ or ‘breast of budgie’.
But, the amount of times I made ‘cow stew’, ‘fried pig arse’ or ‘baby sheep leg’ in my life made me think more deeply than ever before.
I simply couldn’t ignore it. You may disagree – I’m not here to tell you that what is a wrong or right thought. I’m just describing my own personal experience. It was an experience that just messed with my head, maybe it might make you open up to a different point of view.
You may feel while reading this that in order to eat the necessary amount of food (more specifically protein) for your body to stay strong, fit and be healthy that it would be near enough impossible to switch to a fully plant based diet – if you are, your are me.
I wasn’t sure where to begin so I started with a primary consideration, how could I get the recommended amount of protein for someone of my age, weight and activity level?
On the back of my research i found that any protein intake over 1.6g per kg of bodyweight made a negligible effect on strength and muscle mass gains (2).
I found that plant based protein rich sources like tempeh, hemp & pea protein powder and a choice of cooked beans or legumes would take me very close to the amount I needed.
A new set of habits that took me a few weeks to get used to but soon became a normal day-to-day routine.
A new approach to eating that aligns with my view of what a ‘healthy’ diet consists of and helps improve the quality of our environment.
- Steinfeld, H., Gerber, P., Wassenaar, T., Castel, V., Rosales, M. and de Haan, C. (2006) Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome.
- Morton RW, Murphy KT, McKellar SR, et alA systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adultsBritish Journal of Sports Medicine 2018;52:376-384.