I’ve always eaten meat. As an athlete, I thought I HAD to eat meat in order to get enough protein to fuel my body. But as many other athletes are learning (and subsequently teaching us, like Tom Brady), you can be strong and fit and play sports at a high level on a plant-based diet.
A few months back I met a guy who convinced me – through his dedication to the “why” – to remove meat from my diet and go on a plant-based, or vegan diet. I told him I’d never done it, and my concerns about losing muscle and strength etc.
He started sending me links, and while I didn’t agree with everything I was reading, it was fascinating to learn that Carl Lewis, the great olympic sprinter from my childhood, was a vegan. I already know about Tom Brady’s natural diet, and I’ve had consultations with his body coach and nutritionalist, Alex Guerrero, so the seeds of the idea were already in my head, I just hadn’t jumped yet.
But my friend convinced me to just give it a try, and see what happens. So I stopped eating meat.
Well, a few months later, I’m here to tell you that giving up meat is one of the best nutritional decisions I’ve ever made!
Not only for the health reasons – I’ve always eaten healthy, but learning about how meat can perforate the stomach and leech into the bloodstream, learning about how meat can encourage the growth of cancer cells, learning about the differences in ADHD on a diet that includes meat, or a plant-based diet, all of those things were interesting.
Even hearing the stories about people diagnosed with terminal cancer, who then beat it by juicing and going entirely raw, stories I’d heard from personal friends over the past couple of decades, none of that was really reason enough for me to go all-in.
I’ve eaten as healthy as possible for as long as I can remember, always taking care of my body, eating organic whenever possible…but meat was always a big part of that diet. Not red meat, I’m more of a chicken and fish guy, but a delicious hamburger also wasn’t something I’d say no to once in a while.
No, the reason I finally went all-in to become a vegan was to prove my friend wrong. Well, sort of. On one hand my skepticism didn’t allow me to believe that all the hype was true – so I wanted to expose the whole veganism and raw movement as just that: bollocks.
But on the other hand, I kind of was hoping it’d do something to me as well, in a good way.
And it definitely did!
I’ve often gone into a state of ketosis – starvation, or “fasting” – when I want to just hone in on a project for a day or two and think about nothing else. It’s a weird thing that I’ve known works for me, and heard works for others, but hadn’t really looked at “why”.
I just knew that when I fasted, I wasn’t distracted, and I could work 16 hours without getting remotely tired or distracted…even though I had been fasting for a day or 2 days.
Apparently, though, there are many studies done with ADHD kids, which prove beyond any reasonable doubt that ADHD is bullshit concocted by the pharmaceutical companies to keep kids drugged and subservient (for life!), and that simply changing the diet – removing processed sugar and going to a plant-based vegan diet – virtually eliminates the lack of focus and hyperactivity said to be ADHD.
I’ve never taken drugs – thankfully my parents didn’t believe in it – but I have struggled my whole life with this. And the most remarkable thing that has happened from the past several months of not eating meat, is I’ve had more mental clarity, consistently and at the level I’ve usually had when I’ve been fasting, than ever before.
It’s felt like those times of intense focus during periods of ketosis, only, I’m eating (raw, or at least vegan) albeit at a lower caloric intake, and I’m not hungry. It’s been amazing.
During ketosis I always felt like I was going to conquer the world, and my best work would get produced. Now, I honestly feel like that ALL THE TIME, with the exception of simply being over-tired from a lack of sleep when traveling or something. But a good sleep and I’m back to feeling the same incredible way again.
Another major change that has happened is my body has been cleansing itself of ‘junk’. One of the most mind-blowing things that happened was a huge sebaceous cyst that I had on my back, which has been there for a couple years, not bothersome, just there.
Sebaceous cysts are usually hereditary, and I had one about 10 years ago that I got surgically removed, and I’ve had this other one now for about 3 years. They don’t hurt, they’re just dead skin and keratin and air and some other stuff, and they’re benign. But they’re not attractive, so I’d been thinking about getting it removed, just hadn’t prioritized it.
Well, my body had other ideas, thanks go going vegan!
For the first time ever, the thing started growing and getting inflamed. I thought maybe it was because due to eating vegan my body was losing some fat from that area and the skin tightening, a plausible if inaccurate hypothesis.
But I noticed I was getting zits on my face as well, which I didn’t even really ever have as a teenager. Some naysayers poo-poohed the idea that my body was removing toxins, suggesting that it was actually unhealthy and that my skin was reacting negatively. I wasn’t sure.
Over the course of a week the cyst got really big, about the size of half a golf ball. It was red and painful, and I read that putting tea tree oil on it would help, so I started doing that. I’d had a good experience with tea tree oil when I had MRSA in Costa Rica on my foot and killed it with garlic and a mix of oils (a different story), so I’m familiar with it.
Anyway, doing that and after a couple days in Portugal pigging out at a vegan all-you-can-eat buffet – they lost money on me I ate so much! – I noticed something wet on my back when sitting at the airport, and realized it was leaking. Gross!
So I went into a bathroom stall, and using my cell phone selfie camera as a guide to see, proceeded to squeeze it…because it was clear my body was ready to get it out!
The thing exploded all over the stall, which was gross, but even worse, it took like an hour of repeatedly doing that, to get rid of the cyst which now seemed to have been almost liquefied by my body to a point where it could be expelled.
Now, I know there are people who will say “yeah but that happens, and it’ll come back if you don’t go to a doctor to get the sack removed!” Maybe – I’ll find out I guess.
All I know is that the more vegan and raw I ate, the more it changed, and that when my body finally expelled it, the area healed and essentially completely disappeared.
I attribute that to removing meat from my diet and going vegan.
OVERALL ENERGY AND FITNESS
The one remaining question from my athlete friends is “Aren’t you losing muscle mass? Don’t you feel weak?” And the answer is, no, not at all. I honestly have felt even better than normal since I stopped eating meat.
Now, I’m not lifting heavy, nor am I training at the level I used to as an extreme athlete or a basketball player. But there are plenty of other athletes who eat this way, including olympic gold medalists, some of the fittest ultra-runners on the planet, and the GOAT Tom Brady. So it’s a silly question in some ways – I’m not on their level, so look at their success with it!
For me, I just feel great. Never sluggish, always with solid energy to keep moving physically and mentally.
I’m working out, and have actually felt more flexible, more mobile, lighter on my feet, and plenty strong with bodyweight exercise.
Supposedly, joints and ligaments and cartilage are capable of being repaired naturally by the body, and goodness that would be amazing. I’m waiting for that, because I still have knee and lower-leg pain from playing years of American Football and 20+ years banging my legs into rocks in big rapids while riverboarding.
But if it’s possible from a raw, vegan diet to heal those physical issues, that’d be enough to make me a fervent disciple of veganism haha.
For now, I’m continuing on with it, learning all I can, still skeptical about certain things – like coconut oil supposedly being bad because ALL oils are bad?? – but I can attest to throwing out the meat and eating as raw and vegan as possible making unarguably positive changes in my body and mind.