Veganism can mean many different things to many different people; I think if anyone has paid attention to the endless debate over the Impossible Whopper then you know there are different factions of people that have very strong viewpoints on this subject. Believe me I have had enough conversations on various different social media platforms to dive into that discussion but what I want to touch on is Vegan as a diet vs. as a lifestyle and the evolution that I think happens when you make that first decision to go vegan. I will use myself as an example just because I think I have followed the path that most vegans do. I initially became a vegan for 2 reasons. First off my wife was vegan and she immediately started to see benefits across the board from physical to mental to personal. Secondly I always tried to stay active and in shape so I was intrigued by switching up my diet but mainly for a few months as a “test”. Well fast forward 18 months and I am still a Vegan and don’t plan on changing anytime soon. What I failed to initially realize though is that Veganism is not just a diet but a lifestyle. You don’t just eat vegan, you need to live vegan. From the start to the end of your day you are constantly thrown temptations and challenges that test your will power and your mental resolve. The peer pressure from others mount, the questions from the people you come in contact with grow, the products you used to love can no longer suffice and then you start to educate yourself on the tragedies and abuse to animals. Just like that, you are consumed and you want to fight for what is right and just while your body, mind, and health transform. This is when being a vegan becomes a lifestyle and not just a diet. There are always going to be doubters and haters and people that think it’s a trend but you are the person living that reality and you are proof of the positive impact being a vegan has in your life holistically so be proud of that and continue to live your life your way.
Please share your story or what Vegan means to you
Like everyone else the majority of my time these days is filled with conference calls in my Pajamas and frequent trips to the refrigerator for a morning, late morning, early afternoon, mid-day, early evening, evening, post dinner, and before bed snack. As you know none of this is good for keeping your desired weight and feeling your best day in and day out. Obviously a lot of that depends on what you’re snacking on but if you’re like me it tends to be on the sweet or fried side. I think one of the many changes that will come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is a second rush of “New Year new me” people who snacked too much while working from home and put on the “Corona 15”. While I have definitely snacked too much I have actually been able to work out more than ever so here are a few pointers that have helped me maintain and even better my current health.
First off just needing fresh air is motivation enough for me, I’ll wake up and put on gym clothes so when there is a break in meetings or the day is just slow I can toss on my shoes grab my headphones and head outside for a run. Secondly I bought a few weights that I leave directly behind my work from home desk. This way there is no avoiding them and they scream my name every time I stand up. Think about it, how many times do you stand up during the day to grab a drink, a snack, or use the bathroom? If you did a few sets of curls, shoulder presses, pushups, or tricep dips every time you stood up you’d be doing more sets in one day then you typically do a full week at the gym. Lastly instead of stocking up on toilet paper and paper towels I have stocked up on frozen veggies and fruit. Nothing like not being able to leave your house to force yourself to eat healthy, right? I am forced to make a stir fry every night or eat a few dates when I want a snack instead of chocolate. This time, more so than any most of us have ever experienced, will feed our temptations and enhance our stress eating. If the unhealthy snacks aren’t there then you won’t eat them and if you’re willing to risk contracting a deadly respiratory illness to go get chocolate down the street and the local mini market then it’s time to look in the mirror.
I just ran in what I believe was my 6th Half Marathon and while yes I live in Chicago and yes it was absolutely freezing and yes it was snowing and yes there were puddles everywhere I actually ended up running a personal best time. What I was most excited about though was this was the first road race since we had our daughter so obviously I tried to train as much as I could but I didn’t have nearly as much free time as before she was born. It is also not exactly easy to train during the winter in Chicago, and to be honest who wants to go running when the air temperature, not the wind chill, is in the single digits? Nobody, as a result most of my training was done on a home treadmill. While this is not ideal it was the best case scenario for the situation I was in. This is what brings me to the point I want to make with this post. I trained less than ever before during my previous half marathons but what was the main difference? This was the first half marathon I ran since I became a vegan. I could go on for pages about the personal benefits of my diet change but what I have noticed over the last couple months while training for the race was that my cardio levels were much better than ever before and I felt lighter, I felt healthier, I felt cleaner, and In all seriousness I just felt younger. My first half marathon was run when I was 27, this last race I was 37 and I took well over 10 minutes off of my time. You do the math. #govegan
It is about that time, for many of us it’s the best and most magical time of year full of family, friends, and lots of food! But for vegans especially, and while I limit this blog to vegans this rings true for anyone dieting or trying to live a better life, as you are constantly slapped in the face with ads and stores showcasing decadent foods, full of rich creamy filling, and chocolatey this and fried that it makes it nearly impossible to stay true to your lifestyle. Coupled with the food temptations the cold weather brings inner demons telling you to not worry about that cheese, or the egg nog, or the turkey stuffing. This time of year is literally a breeding ground of excuses. I am also a firm believer that there is an innate human need to binge eat during the fall in anticipation of a long winter hibernation. Whether coincidence or not I for one have a heightened sense of hunger as the leafs start to fall and part of me just wants to eat and eat and eat and it’s more true this time of the year than any other time during the year. I fully believe we are born with this inclination and our bodies prepare us for the coming weather. There is a reason the whole “New Year New Me” saying is a thing right? All of us tend to go off the rails once fall hits and use the new year as an excuse. “I can have that extra side of french fries because I’m going to start really hitting the gym in January!”, “Oh Dessert? Ill splurge tonight, it’s fine because I just ordered a treadmill for Christmas!” Its clockwork, we all fall into the traps of the season and then what happens when January comes? We start working out and join a gym for 2 months and then revert back to our bad ways. It never ever fails, it is a vicious cycle.
It is easy to sit here and think of a hundred different clichés to throw out at you about staying strong and having will power and supplementing work temptation with vegan substitutes but in all honesty every person is different and for some people it’s much easier than others. There really is no answer, the only thing I can say is when you start to hear those voices in your head telling you its ok to cheat on your diet, and its ok to stray from your lifestyle, and it won’t kill you to this one time to stop and think long and hard about all the hard work you have put into getting to where you are today and all the good you have done and how good you feel. Believe me, the feeling of passing and saying no to those temptations FARRRRRRR outweighs the guilt you will feel from that very short sense of gratification. You can do it, you are strong, go out there and prove it.
This past week my wife, daughter, and I spent a week in the Dominican Republic and while it was
beautiful and nice to be away from the daily grind, it was exhausting. Traveling with a 1 year old is
stressful enough, especially on a trip that pushes roughly 5 hours of air time but factor in early
departure times and layovers and unfamiliar scenarios for a baby that has a very structured life at home and things start to get even more stressful. She did great (and my wife deserves all the credit) and we are so blessed to have a baby that is well behaved but overall I think as parents we stress ourselves out, right? We make ourselves so anxious about the hypothetical “what ifs?”, that we drive ourselves crazy when at the end of the day we all get through it and we survive and everything is ok. I think people tend to put themselves in bubbles and need to realize that millions of people travel with children and have been forever so you are not alone. People understand the complications and stressing yourself out only rubs off on the people around you. Stay calm, ask for help when needed, and know everything is going to be ok. Something that really helped us, and I think can help anyone traveling with a young one, is scheduling your departure times as close as possible to the babies nap time and/or sleep schedule. For instance leaving early in the morning will allow the baby to fall asleep for a large portion of the trip, and for us our daughter naps around 1 p.m. every day so scheduling flights mid-afternoon allows her to eat, have a bottle, and fall asleep. I also had a friend suggest to me that using a sound machine not only helps at home but the sound is very familiar to the rumble of the plane so your child will be used to the rumbling from the plane’s engine. Every little advantage helps you and your little one make the trip better for all parties.
Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil who in many ways pushes a far-right agenda similar to Donald Trump has continued to push deregulation and destruction of the countries natural resources in an effort to bolster profits. In an article published by VegNews 500 million bees were killed in the last 90 days due to pesticides that have been banned in the EU. In fact according to the article “Since January 2019, the country approved the use of 300 new pesticides, including fipronil (a drug banned by the European Union that is used to kill fleas on dogs and cats that potentially causes cancer in humans). In the last three years, environmental protection group Greenpeace found that 1,200 pesticides and weed killers were registered for use in Brazil, including 193 substances that are illegal in the EU”. I’m going to be honest I never really understood the effects of killing bees had an on environment; at least I did not fully comprehend the seriousness of the situation. I would see posts on social media or glance over articles while scanning the web but never took it seriously but the more I read the more I now understand. This can potentially be a serious crisis. According to Environment America “Millions of bees are dying off, with alarming consequences for our environment and our food supply. We rely on bees to pollinate everything from almonds to strawberries to the alfalfa used to feed dairy cows. What happens if the bees disappear? It’s simple: No bees, no food.” What’s even more concerning is the known use of pesticides that have been proven to cause cancer in humans. This man is continuing to poison his own people for the sake of profits. Sound familiar? This is the same man who pushed back on the global outrage over allowing corporations to burn down the rain forest to be used by cattle ranchers to supply the beef industry. Bolsonaro has continued to welcome the destruction of the rain forest and has turned a blind eye to its torture and the suffering it has caused. Now I don’t want to get into politics because that is not what I am about or what this blog is about but is this not the type of corrupt and selfish leadership that leaves a country in torn ruins and that incites people to pick sides and argue and fight and become divisive? There is too much of this happening around the world and something needs to be done about it. Will there be a period of self-reflection where we need blatant destruction in order to open our eyes and enable us to move forward? Or is someone going to rise from the ashes to push an agenda that can bring sides together? Unfortunately I think it’s going to take incompetence from leaders in order to open our eyes and that model will only hurt millions.
While my true name may be anonymous the title of my blog paints a complete picture of who I am and what I represent. I personally never knew if I had a true identity and characteristics that made me stand out. Some people are extremely charismatic, some people are great athletes, some people have a personal style that is unforgettable but I don’t think, until recently, I really ever knew what made me the individual I am today. That is where this blog, Vegan Sports Dad, came into focus for me. Initially I didn’t exactly know what to call my blog and while I had started a few before I always tried to have catchy and flashy names so I wanted this blog to be about me. Who was I though? I was always a little confused what my true identity was as well as what passions truly drove me but it seemed that all I had to do was look in the mirror and see what defined me and made me the person I am today so let’s take a closer look and give you all an idea of why I chose this name and who I am.
Inspired by teammate Derrick Morgan and his wife Charity who cooks and delivers vegan food to nearly a dozen players at the Titans practice facility Woodyard went vegan in order to improve performance, recovery, and longevity which are very much needed for a going on 12 year veteran of the NFL. Always known as one of the best Linebackers in the league who has registered over 100 tackles in each of the last two seasons and played at least 14 games in 10 out of his 11 NFL seasons Wesley I’m sure will attest feels as good as ever and has only extended his career by going vegan. I am very much looking forward to watching Wesley and the other vegan members of that defense this upcoming season.
University of Southern Maine undergoing $2.5M dining hall renovation and I wish I could go back to school
What is one of the main aspects of this million dollar renovation you ask? It is to make room for bigger and broader vegan options. This renovation is making me incredibly jealous of the students that attend Southern Maine, but then again I will always be jealous of college kids strolling around without a care in the world, sleeping in until noon, and your only thoughts being where the next party is…I digress. From the sounds of it Southern Main is building a legit high-end food hall that will include farro breakfast bowls, jackfruit carnitas sandwiches with jicama slaw, chocolate peanut butter brownies, made-to-order smoothies with non-dairy milk or vegan protein powder. At the pasta, stir-fry, and pizza stations, students can add beans, grilled tofu, marinated tempeh, falafel, or jackfruit to their custom-made dishes. The deli station also stocks vegan cheese and meat, and the salad bar has a dedicated vegan section. Is this real life? I want to book a trip to Maine just to go to this food hall, also if this option was around when I was in college it could have saved me like 20 lbs and cut my blood pressure in half. It’s a genius move, not only for the health and betterment of their students and faculty but its a news worthy story that will attract the more health centric kids of today.
Phoenix has received a Grammy Award, a Golden Globe Award and three Academy Award nominations and is the start of the upcoming Joker which I cannot wait to see. Joaquin is an outspoken animal activist and supports groups such as In Defense of Animals, Live Earth, Mercy For Animals, and PETA. On his decision to become vegan Phoenix has said:
“Really it was seeing these fish being killed when I was on a boat as a kid. I guess to stun them they were throwing them against the side of the boat. I just had a profound strong reaction. It felt like a real injustice. It wasn’t just me, it was my siblings, all of my siblings, except for the youngest, Summer, she wasn’t born. My mom was pregnant with her. I don’t know how to explain it. I think it made me distrustful, and angry, and frightened of humans, humanity. I just thought it was such a gross abuse of power in a way. I think that during that moment we knew that we were not going to eat meat anymore. We said to our parents, “Why didn’t you tell us?” It’s amazing. I remember my mom’s face, I remember her crying. She didn’t know how to answer. It became very obvious we weren’t going to eat meat anymore.”