Why on earth would you STOP eating meat | by Fiona Griffin, Personal Trainer at World Gym Burpengary
Unlike some, I never woke up one day and just decided to stop eating meat. Actually, it happened over a period of time and quite strangely stemmed from something very innocent - not wanting to accidently eat a little puppy dog when travelling in Asia.
I know what you’re thinking? Surely stopping eating meat altogether is an extreme choice considering that last sentence. Well, as I say; it didn’t happen overnight. We all go through different situations in life which provide us with the opportunity to question our beliefs, morals and actions. Visiting Asia was my catalyst.
When It All Really Started – My Mum’s Influence
Well, coming from a big foodie family, I think the first time I recall really thinking about what I ate was when I was roughly 14 years old and training daily for competitive sport.
My mum would always feed me a big bowl of chicken and pasta before making the half hour car journey to the sports centre to train of an evening. ‘Portion size? Who cares! You just need meat and carbs’ was I was taught from a young age by my mum.
But It All Stopped – The Accident that Changed My Life
I think that belief stemmed the inevitable weight gain when sport and exercise took a sudden stop following a car accident in my mid 20’s. Although my mum had my best interests at heart, I have flashbacks of the food and sports drinks I would take to competitions - looking back it makes me shudder a little.
Like with many, my poor mum had little to no nutritional knowledge so really was doing what SHE thought was right. We now know that as children, we are more often than not a product of our parental beliefs and experiences. Heading into adulthood, I was non-the-wiser about the importance of having a balanced and well-formed diet.
I don’t have many memories of my teenage years that don’t involve a doctor, hospital, pain, and digestive issues or just being really unwell in general. Looking back now, well it’s absolutely clear what on earth was wrong.
But at the time, it drove me mad not knowing.
How It All Changed – the Travel of a Lifetime
Having worked in the health and fitness industry since a young age, you would assume that I am an all-knowing master of all things food and exercise. Well, reality is, my own experiences have taught me a lot more than any text book or qualification ever will.
After being involved in a traumatic car accident, I was left feeling very low emotionally and physically unable for a long time. This had a detrimental effect on my health and wellbeing in particular. The KGs piled on and my whole body and mind changed for the worse.
Oh, and all of those horrible doctors and hospital visits became ever more regular. ☹
In January 2017, me and my partner decided to leave England and travel this big and beautiful world of ours. We quit our jobs as gym managers, packed our oversized backpacks, and headed for Asia.
Immediately I saw a huge change in my body and mindset.
The KGs started dropping and I notably could feel my mindset evolve and develop each day. Two weeks in to being in a different country, I genuinely started to question what an earth had changed in me to see such a difference … my diet! I had actively stopped choosing meat dishes as the vegetable ones were cheaper and less scary (animal lovers’ nightmare to accidently eat a puppy dog as ‘meat’).
With this revelation, I continued to make meat free choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was massive, huge, an absolute unimaginable thing for me – I used to bloody love a lamb roast dinner. But, it’s a whole different motivation when you put your health at the forefront of mind each day.
How I Apply It to My Daily Life – What Happened After the Trip
Since this revelation, I have jumped head first into research and began my own little experiments on my body. Could being more ‘plant-based’ truly have THAT much effect on my health?
Well, in my experience, YES!
I rarely get sick (I have been to the doctors 2x in just over a year compared to the weekly visits I previously had for a variety of health issues), my daily abdominal pain is gone, I have more energy, joints feel better, I’ve lost a very significant volume of fat, and genuinely feel that I lead a more balanced lifestyle. Not only this, I have changed my view on what food really is.
Gone are the days that I prepare for a training session with a big bowl of chicken and pasta. Hell no, I grab as many plants as possible and make sure my carbohydrates are coming from whole foods rather than the normal processed quick fix.
The benefits of eating a plant-based diet absolutely smashed my own desire to eat a steak. I can now be seen eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and plant-based alternatives to meat and the occasional treat. I eat more FOOD now.
Public Opinion vs. My Own Opinion (and Experiences)
In my opinion, being plant-based really only has its negatives when I look at what people say or do around me. I am always happy to speak about my journey to anyone who asks and I want to put anyone’s mind at ease that a more plant-based diet can really work for everyone.
However, the biggest negative comes from people making assumptions and pushing their own belief on me. As I mentioned previously, it’s been and will continue to be – a journey. Do I have my ups and downs? Of course! But I always pick myself back up and remember that I’m really changing my eating habits to create a healthy body.
I regularly hear the words
‘Errrr, I could never go vegan!’
‘Aren’t you really sick?’
and as I’ve said, my whole health and well-being has been improved by my choice to change my diet.
And to clarify, I haven’t died from a protein deficiency after not eating meat for nearly 2 years now (I don’t know anyone who has).
You Can Also Do It – If You Want to be Healthier
I believe the future will see people choosing a more plant-based diet as more and more people are seeing the real world, long-term health benefits from moving away from meat. Some easy changes are the variety of readily available ‘plant-based’ alternatives; which contain plenty of protein, healthy fats and carbs.
Other ideas can come from social media sources or seeking more advice from either myself or the lovely guys at ‘Aussie Sups Nutrition Hub’ which is somewhere I personally fully back and have had really positive experiences with.
Fiona Griffin is a Personal Trainer at World Gym Burpengary. We worked closely with her on her transition to a plant-based diet. She can be contacted by: