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  • Joe Day

What's the Vegan-Free option?

How many times have you been told, ‘you are what you eat!’ These days, the world merely asks us to follow a gluten free, carb-reduced, meatless, omega-supplementing, protein-packed, ketogenic, sugar free, healthy, and balanced diet. If we want to do our best to avoid heart disease, we should avoid red meat and eat plenty of protein with healthy vitamins which can be found in beef and lamb. One way to a toned, flat stomach is to consume lots of garlic, however be cautious with your measurements as garlic causes bloating. A sure-fire method for staying fit and healthy? Fish! However, be sure that the fisherman who does fish for the fish you wish to consume should fish to ensure there are plenty of fish left for other fisherman to fish. I’ll be honest, with the apparent ever-changing dietary advice being thrust upon us, even I as a trainer want to tell them all to f**k off! I just want to eat and enjoy food please. That being said, one thing I know for sure is that we should eat lots of, no, less meat (that’s right at the moment, right?)

Netflix won’t let me eat cows, fish, avocados, McDonald’s or Free Willy - so what the hell do we eat? Furthermore, what do we eat to maintain a healthy weight, lower cholesterol, cure liver disease, keep my gut healthy, turn my eyes blue and make my kids impeccably behaved? My nutritional intake should enable me to maintain plump lips, great glutes and chiselled chest whilst dissolving my hips, stomach and thighs - heaven forbid we should have a flat ass and no thigh gap! To top it all off - do all this whilst not further destroying our already buggered planet!

Your guess is as good as mine - but I’ll go ahead and give it a bloody good go…

The year is 2009: I am just starting out training my first clients, I eat whatever I want day after day and only be kind of fat – life is great! Even during a world-wide recession, I was living the dream. Worries about the relationship between the food I consumed and the state of the planet I stood on were non-existent. It was all about being healthy and having a balanced diet. Fast forward over a decade. The number one question my clients ask me? ‘What can I eat that’s healthy?’ This should be a simple answer. I should be able to reel off clear, easy to follow advice for anyone to be a healthier version of themselves. However, with so many factors involved including nutritional content, desired outcomes, preferences and cost, how can I deliver the answer on the spot? Add on the ever-growing pressures of avoiding driving our world to the brink of extinction.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know the planet is struggling - David Attenborough is a bloody legend. The bloke’s a revelation in changing mind-sets and singlehandedly saving the world. I would 100% have listened to him if he was my dad. I couldn’t pinch his whiskey and vodka - he is 100% a decanter man (which is harder to steal from when it’s in the middle of the drawing room and not in a cupboard under the stairs!) We know that plastic is choking our oceans and livestock rearing is suffocating our atmosphere. However, how straight forward is it for us to simply stop eating meat? I can reduce my plastic intake but can I break a life-long habit of smoked bacon sandwiches? So, unless you are a completely dedicated nutritionist or dietary professional, it’s bloody tough to go meat-free these days, especially with the added factors of gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, fat free, allergies and I don’t like water! I admire the idea of those around me going meat-free. A new study, published in the Lancet Planetary Health Journal, revealed that people in the UK are eating 17% less red and processed meat compared to a decade ago - however they are eating more white meat. With the desire for compartmentalising and putting everyone in a box, everyone seemingly must fall into a category: meat-eater, vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan. So, with this in mind, why not try this on for size: Flexitarian (shit term - I much prefer vegan-free chicken eaters – but let’s go with it for now.)

As a country chap, I like meat and I still seriously enjoy my smoked bacon sandwich on a Sunday morning. That being said, instead of sticking to just one food preference, I could work towards a balance of each. So, if you had to pigeon hole this group of the normals (kidding) then they would be Flexi-Eaters. I am at a loss as to why this isn’t more widely shared (then again, it would make for a crap Netflix documentary - cue planet boffins telling me I am wrong, but hold fire, I am thinking of the world.) Growing up, I watched Mr Motivator, only for my parents to tell me about the Green Goddess back in their day (sounds like soft porn for dads if you ask me!) These figures never did the same 2 workouts, as changing it up was so good for the body. The GP told you to try a little of everything - for a well-balanced life eat a well-balanced diet. For decades this has been suggested by the professionals. In terms of fitness, athletes must cross-train to avoid injury. It’s only too common to find people injured through over training - shin splints are essentially the body’s way of telling you that you run too often, too far and too quickly you arse!

To avoid over training, but not lose fitness, athletes find ways to train to help stop injuries and protect their bodies. Runners may swim or cycle. Rugby players have been known to take up ballet to reduce their high impact training – these methods to work to reduce issues and maximise their potential. Now, let’s take this theory and apply it to our diet. Asking a country, nation or continent to change to one food priority isn’t likely the right answer. If we all turned to veganism, we could run out of facon, all turn to veggies and our supply of lentils is gone. You think we have issues now? Wait until we get to 10 billion people on this planet, then we are Hindenburg screwed. So why not go back to what we know? A little of everything will keep us balanced. Could meat-eaters introduce a few days substitute for a plant-based protein a day or two a week? If this was adopted by the masses, could we reduce the worry of over stretching a certain food preference and simultaneously help the planet to settle and not implode? You never know! It may even help people to broaden their beige diets. Here’s to helping Sir Dave to protect our planet as we only have one. Here’s to asking the masses to broaden their nutritional patterns and mix it up. Finally, here’s to a healthier human race. But don’t go and get too healthy, otherwise I will be out of a job and live in a cardboard box - Flexi all the way.

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