Being vegan for fertility, fitness, the love of animals and sourcing a natural high
I'd like to introduce you to Liz.
Liz follows a plant-based diet. She runs, lifts weights, maintains her ideal weight and uses it to lift any negativity around her.
Many would immediately think 'How can she do that if she's vegan?!?' Yet, contrary to popular belief, it doesn't hold her back at all!
How would you describe yourself Liz?
I run, I lift weights, I do circuit training and yoga, and I’m a vegan.
What does fitness do for you?
Fitness is a big part of my life – not only does it help me physically, but mentally too. I initially started working out after losing a large amount of weight as I thought it would help me lose more weight and then help me maintain that weight loss (I lost over 100 lbs). What I found out was that fitness does so much more than that – it’s a hobby, it helps brighten a dark day, and it makes me feel fantastic. I do believe that exercise is an underutilised natural antidepressant.
How did your love for fitness begin?
My love of fitness started in April 2012 and it has helped me in so many ways. My initial reason for losing weight was to qualify for fertility treatment (IVF). After two unsuccessful treatment cycles, working out and running really helped me to recover. After the final treatment cycle in autumn 2013 I managed to get a place to run the 2014 London Marathon. Focusing on my marathon training was an essential part of my recovery process during that difficult time. Running gave me so much – confidence, self-worth, stamina, positivity, and it felt like a real achievement. Fitness makes you strong and that strength transcends itself into your life in so many ways.
Where does veganism fit into all this?
At that point I also decided to make my decision to be vegan official. I’d been a vegetarian since the age of eight, and (what I would describe as) part-time vegan since the age of 21, but I had never fully committed to veganism as I didn’t like dealing with the negative comments I received from people (‘You’re just being awkward’), and at the time it seemed like hard work. Then I turned 30 and realised that I didn’t actually care what other people thought or said. I do sometimes encounter some negative comments but I don’t argue about it – I want to be a positive example. If people want to find out more about veganism, I’ll happily help, but I don’t force my opinions on anyone. I’m very happy that I finally made the decision as I love being vegan – and it isn’t hard at all, it’s easy (ok, restaurants can be a little tricky sometimes, but not unmanageable). I love food, and vegan food is so tasty with so much variety. I do not feel deprived in any way.
What do you think of the myth that vegans can't be athletes?
Being a vegan does not mean you cannot be an athlete – there are so many vegan athletes (and Olympians) out there, and more and more are making themselves known all the time. Plant based nutrition gives you so much energy.
Why do you follow a vegan diet?
I’m a vegan because I am an animal lover. I have always felt that I shouldn’t eat animal products. Plant based nutrition works for me, and I eat to support my activity levels. Since becoming vegan, I have become more mindful and deliberate in my food choices. I try to eat a good balance of fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes – my vegan diet powers me through all my exercise – including my long distance running.
What are your achievements to date?
I started running May 2013, and in my first year of running, I ran four half-marathons, one marathon and two 10k races. I have another marathon, a 10k and three half-marathons planned for later this year. I’m also a member of Vegan Runners UK – a national running club for vegans.
I write a blog about my fitness activities and I’m about to embark upon training to become a fitness instructor and personal trainer, as fitness has thoroughly transformed my life and I want to help others develop a love of fitness.
"My muscle definition got better when I became a vegan...I've started eating less protein, but the foods I'm eating are giving are better protein and better iron. Plant-based iron is the best for your body to absorb."
- Meagan Duhamel