I have always been fascinated by the role of food and nutrition in sport. It’s something I’ve always struggled with in my derby career; eating too much or too soon before a game, not eating enough to keep my energy levels up or replacing healthy food with sugary snacks and energy drinks for a quick burst of energy. So when I saw an advert for Veganuary on Facebook I was interested to find out more and try it for myself.
We have a few vegans in our team and I wanted to find out why they decided to choose this lifestyle. Ted’s decision was for health reasons.
I was vegetarian from the age of 11 till 17. I always used to joke that it was because of my mother’s terrible cooking, but really I’d made the connection between the meat on my plate and the animals I loved after someone handed me a leaflet on a trip out in London. I stopped eating meat with the promise to my grandmother that if I was craving meat it was because my body was lacking something and that I would listen to my body.
When I was 24 I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). I had gone from a size 10 weighing 75kg to a size 22 weighing 118kg and I hadn’t had a regular cycle in all that time. I only had periods as a result of the Pill. Over the next 6 years I hunted for the perfect PCOS diet. I tried them all; Low GI, no carbs, various fasting diets, gluten free, paleo, no sugar, Weight Watchers and Slimming World, all with varying levels of success.
“F**k it!” I thought. I’ll never be tiny again, I’ll never see my toes again, I’m stuck being fat and hairy and having stupidly long and painful periods. So how did I become Vegan? Roller Derby has a lot of vegans in its community and I wanted to try it, experiment with vegan cooking and try new things. So hubby and I went vegan for Lent 2017. I didn’t think it would be that difficult to be honest. But I was surprised to see how many animal products was in so many things I ate! It made me read the labels and made me conscious of what I was actually eating.
During the first 10 days I grumbled, a lot. I really wanted a cheese toastie with Lea and Perrin’s on it – I had no idea that the brown and orange bottle of tasty awesomeness had fish in it! Then more days went by and I felt good, I felt healthy, I was sleeping well. I even had a period that lasted 4 days not the usual 14+… Interesting!
Over Lent we also watched some documentaries on Netflix, “Fork over Knife”, “What the Health”, “Cowspiricy” and “Vegucated”. I cried and I told my husband that I didn’t want to go back to being an Omnivore. He felt the same, and we decided that we would begin to replace all the products in our house with animal free and cruelty free products.
I went Vegan for my health and I feel so much better for it. I wont go back. I’m no where near the 75kg I used to be but what I have done is reduce my likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, reduce the possibility of developing coronary artery disease, of having a heart attack or certain types of cancer, all of which are sadly common in my family.
El has been vegan for over 7 years now. She told us about the ethical reasons behind her decision.
I went vegan about 7 years ago, and now I wouldn’t look back. My main reasons for going vegan were ethical ones – I was already vegetarian, and had thought that veganism was an unnecessary extra step. I was wrong. It was while doing research for a book that I learned about some of the ethical issues and cruelty associated with animal products like milk, eggs, wool and silk. The information was right there, I’d just never looked for it. Once I’d seen it, though, I couldn’t unsee it.
It’s becoming more accepted to choose a vegan lifestyle, but there are still a lot of people who will bully, mock, and put you down. There is an impressive support network, though, and like derby does for many, veganism can give you an extended social group of like-minded people. In a way, going vegan is a big chunk of what led me to roller derby. I was an anxious semi-hermit by the time I met some of the amazing people I’ve met through local vegan groups (run by local vegans, for local vegans) and the confidence I gained through talking with these people and going to events boosted me enough to take a deep breath and say ‘I want to be involved’ – another decision I wouldn’t change.
Veganism isn’t a diet, it’s a way of life. It is about causing the least harm possible through our actions, and about not seeing animals as commodities. The health benefits and ecological benefits are huge, too, and for me just make it make perfect sense – ethical, eco and health effects all in balance. If anyone wants any tips on going vegan, or wants some help with recipes, I’m always happy to chat. Veganuary is a great way to start – they can give you information and guidance, so you won’t be starting alone, either!
A common misconception is that a vegan diet is lacking in certain nutrients and proteins that are vital for sport. Dunks tells us about how they make a vegan diet work with their sporting lifestyle.
I have been vegan for about four years, and doing roller derby for nearly a year and a half now.
I have been into contact sports and weightlifting for many years, and for a long time I believed that to get all the protein I needed to fuel my activities, I needed to consume a lot of animal products. My shopping basket was always full of chicken breasts and pints of cow’s milk. I always thought that veganism was the more ethical choice, but didn’t know that a vegan diet could provide me with the right nutrients…
A few years ago I started dating someone who was vegan, which prompted me to do a bit of reading up and educate myself about veganism. I found many sources stated that a good vegan diet can provide an active person with all that is needed, and that has certainly been my experience; I am still upping the weights I lift on a regular basis! It doesn’t need to be complicated either; I am super lazy about cooking, so I regularly use a vegan complete meal replacement shake, vegan protein shakes for post-workout, and get prepped meals delivered. The provision of vegan products available has exploded in the last couple of years; it’s really never been easier to go vegan and do it in a healthy way.
I have found many roller derby people are vegan, and more seem to be going vegan all the time. There is always loads of vegan cake available at games, so you do not miss out at all!
Myself (Jennapocalypse) and my teammates (Commander Pain Shepard, Frankenmeanie, Dread Block, Hellen Degenerate and Grazed Anatomy) have all pledged to try Veganuary this year. So far, despite waking up on the first of January with a craving for fried chicken, we’re doing well and the support we’ve received from our vegan teammates has been really encouraging!
Ted’s Top Tips for Veganuary:
If you’ve never tried living a vegan life, try it. Even if it’s just for Veganuary! See if you feel better, and if you do, maybe give it another 30 days, and see how you feel. No-one is saying its compulsory, no one is saying it has to be forever. But maybe you’ll feel better and decide to stick with it.
Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice cream is incredible!
Prep your lunches.
Learn to read labels.
And don’t kick yourself and give up early or if you accidentally eat something with meat, eggs or dairy in. It’s all about giving it a try.