A brief story on our vegan journey

Well day two and given I was too lazy to get up in the morning and do the planned ride; I figured I had better write about something other than the bike, but before that, the commute to work was good today. A nice cruise into the city with my son and then a few Strava PBs on the way home too. You have to love a massive tailwind. I also rode by feel today as I had no opportunity to look at heart rate or speed as my Garmin was left on the kitchen table. Today was just riding. I have read about the joy of riding this way, but I have to admit I did feel a bit naked without the numbers there.

As the Garmin was not able to distract me, I thought about what I could write today and came up with writing about the decision to go vegan. It was something that 3 out of the 4 members of my family did close to a year ago. There were a few different things that led to it. My wife was trying to eat healthier so started to eat a vegetarian diet, our daughter (mid-teens) decided to go vegan and I was having a lot of gut related issues. I ended up spending the night on the floor of a hotel room in Hobart lying in the foetal position, not knowing which end was going to explode for the umpteenth time. During a moment of quite lucid thought, I worried that the hotel staff would find me there the next day, so I made sure I removed the goat from the room, the leather face mask and collar around my neck and flushed the cocaine down the toilet, just in case the worst thing happened. It was the next morning I decided to follow my wife and daughter down the healthy eating path.

This led me to educate myself a bit and one drizzly afternoon I found myself watching Food Inc. on Netflix. Throughout my life, I have never spent time on a farm, been hunting or taken joy out of seeing an animal in pain or dead. The movie made me ask myself, “If I am not willing to look an animal in the eyes and end it’s life, can I sit at my kitchen table and ignore the fact that someone had to do it?” No was my response.

The last time our family took a long drive we stopped on the side of the road at some random farm where there were a couple of horses grazing near a fence. I walked over and petted them. It may sound like a bit of crap, but I honestly felt that I connected with the animals. I was able to look both of them in the eye and talk to them. I felt that they really appreciated being approached and petted. It was a moment that lasted a few minutes, but will stay with me a long time. Next time we are up that way I will be stopping by again to say hello. Hopefully they are there. I find it hard to reconcile how a moment like that, or a moment that we share in our houses with our dogs or cats, can’t be shared with a lamb, cow or pig. What makes them so different?

Anyway that was a bit of the how we became a vegan family – the last hold out has now joined our ranks after educating himself a bit!

Now the trade-offs… there are none. Once you make the decision to do anything that you truly want to see through, there is no need to do a pros and cons list. You just want what you want. We want this, so it is no trade off to have a stir-fry without meat or spaghetti bolognese made with an assortment of vegetables or vegan mince, rather than minced meat. It really is not that different and you still end up with a full belly.

People often ask how I feel. My first response is 10 kilograms lighter and given I was nearly double my wife’s weight, she can actually breathe during our midnight rendezvous now. Although she does ask me to lightly choke her, so maybe she misses the suffocation play? Seriously though, I feel better than I have in a long time and I have also been able to increase my performance on the bike. This is probably just because I am training more regularly, but why not throw it all into the same pile?

People do also joke about only eating grass or salad, but to be honest we live in a great city with an amazing array of vegan options. I also travel a lot for work and wherever I go throughout Australia I can easily locate a restaurant close by that specialises in vegan fare. It does help that I travel between the major cities, but there has not been one restaurant or café that we have been to that has not assisted us on our rural adventures.

Not everyone needs to go out and become vegan and I have no plans on making myself an advocate for this lifestyle, I just wanted to share the reason behind our decision and some of the benefits that have come from our change. Each of us has the power to choose our own path, but staying on a path because that is what you have always done or grown up with may be causing you to miss out on something better. Better for the planet, better for the animals and ultimately better for you. If it is something that might interest you, take the time to visit a local vegan restaurant and see for yourself. One night of tofu is not going to cause the blokes to become oestrogen filled beats who suddenly start lactating before the bill is paid! A few meals ought to do it though!

I would also recommend moving toward any major change. Going the whole hog (pun intended) works for some, but also doesn’t work for others. Also don’t be too hard on yourself if you try something and slip once in a while. People from all sides will decry your efforts, but remember that “It is not the critic who counts; not the person who points out where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the person who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends themself in a worthy cause; who knows in the end the triumph of high achievement” (modified extract of Theodore Roosevelt quote).

Stay positive in all you’re trying to achieve as a few bumps along the road – and we have had ours – is part of the journey and not enough of a reason to quit, whatever your goal is. Mine is to ride more, but I know there will be days when I choose to stay in bed and I am perfectly ok with that. Just as long as it isn’t the morning where I am meant to be starting the 820 km ride! Stay safe and til next time.

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