“Health has traditionally boiled down to either how you look (healthy as a horse!) or how you look on paper (passed my lipid panel with flying colors!). We tend to give much less consideration to how we feel. But how you feel is the earliest indicator of your health on a cellular level.” – Move Your DNA
About a year ago, one of my closest friends challenged me to drop meat from my diet. His challenge came from a purely environmental perspective, since many of my other decisions (like not having a car) align with my decision to limit impact to the environment. Around this same time, another friend of mine was reading The China Study and was sharing with me the many long term health benefits he was learning about that stem from plant based diets.
These both sound like wonderful ideas to me, but I have been weight-lifting/bulking for over a decade; never missing more than a week in the gym during that time. WHAT ABOUT MY GAINS?? I couldn’t possibly be able to maintain my strength and physique that I had worked hard for all this time. I decided to commit to a 30-day low-stake experiment.
I have tracked all my weight-lifting sessions meticulously for about 6 years. If my strength or performance in the iron-palace declined at all, or if I started losing weight like mad, I would switch back to my usual diet. If I did not see any negative effects I would continue with the experiment.
Before we dive into the results the basic plan was to eat all whole foods (which I was doing beforehand); I would eat vegetarian on weekdays, have fish for dinner on Fridays, and would accept meat if I was a guest somewhere and that was what was being cooked. (I will follow-up with a detailed breakdown of what a typical week of meal planning looks like).
So, what were the results? I can only speak to short-term health & performance and personal financial results which are both positive. My guess is that environmental results are positive as well, but I have not done research to know the direct impact.
- Referring back to the quote I opened this post with: I do feel better overall, which should be the leading indicator.
- My training program has continued to progress as it has in the past, with a linear progression. I have been able to get my deadlift over 400lbs, squat over 300lbs, and increased my strength in both pull-ups and dips amongst other movements whilst on this diet. My 10K time improved by 5 minutes, and I have been able to do LONG hikes without a problem. All that to say, performance has not gone down.
- Weight has remained the same over the past year at 205lbs. I have not been trying to gain or lose weight.
- Personal Finance
- Grocery bill has decreased from roughly $70-90 per week to $50-60
- Conservatively, this plan is saving $20 per week, whilst still having access to all organic fresh produce. Assuming this $20 per week is invested into the stock market, using MMM math and assuming a 7% return, this decision for just one year will make me $15K in 10 years.
I have not been able to get blood work done, yet, to see if I have any deficiencies, but based off I feel I suspect that I do not. I wanted to share this incase any other meat-heads were considering becoming veggie-heads but were worried about their performance. I will follow-up with another post with a detailed breakdown of what a vegetarian work-week looks like for someone trying to maintain their hard earned gains.
Fish by Spencer Harrison from the Noun Project