I grew up in a small town just outside East London in the early 1970s. My family was a mix of English and Irish ancestry with the diet and lifestyle to prove it. From a young age, I was used to seeing days full of bad food and nights full of too much alcohol. I was smoking at the age of 8 years, and my first cigarettes were given to me by an uncle. Even though my own father had type 1 diabetes (from childhood), he didn’t take care of his health or diet.
Let’s get something straight though: I don’t hold my family accountable for their dietary influences. They were only doing what their parents had shown them. But now that the science is in and I know so much more, I do hold myself accountable for what I teach my own family. “Vegucating” them has been a great experience and I hope both my children and nephews pass it on to their families in time.
Surviving a Life of Violence and Drugs
After leaving school, I stepped into the wide world without a clue about what I was, what I wanted to be, and what I should be. I bounced from job to job and worked construction, on sawmills, and as a truck driver. When I wasn’t at work, I was either drinking, drunk, or getting high. With this lifestyle came violence. My 6-foot-3-inch build, a rough and tumble upbringing, and Irish blood got me in no end of trouble. After choosing a life of violence, I fell victim to being stabbed on more than one occasion, beaten into a coma on another, and having multiple titanium plates inserted into my shattered face.
In my mid 20s, I worked security in various pubs, clubs, and nightspots in London’s West End. This work put me on first-name terms with the elite of the local underworld, and I took my skills in violence and my personal abuse of alcohol and drugs to another level.
Turning the Tide: The 2004 Tsunami
Fast forward 10 years and I’ve managed to leave most of the abuse and violence behind. I was working security with high-profile bands and musicians, and seeing the tamer side of life made me more aware of myself and more mindful of the choices I made. However, I was still abusing alcohol and had a very poor diet.
I was in Thailand during the 2004 tsunami. After experiencing (and surviving) that, I started to focus on Buddhism and to use some of the practices to refine myself into a better person. During one music tour, I met John “Bloodclot” Joseph, lead singer of the Cro-Mags and author of Meat Is for Pussies and The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon. We connected immediately and have been best friends since.
After seeing his energy, vibrancy, and the way he thrives in all he does, I questioned him about his lifestyle. He happily advised me on the plant-based diet he has lived on and lived by for some 32 years. To this day, John is like my brother, my inspiration, and my benchmark.
Cutting out all animal products gave me a greater buzz and more fulfilling high than any alcohol or drug-induced feeling I have ever had. Changing to a plant-based vegan diet took me physically and emotionally to a level I never in all my years imagined I would achieve.
Thriving Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally on a WFPB Diet
Now in my mid-40s, I am running security details for the world’s most high-profile stars, musicians, and DJs. I travel the world on jets. I am training harder and better, and I am fitter, faster, and stronger than ever. I am able to function on less sleep and recover quicker than ever. I regularly train in the world’s best Muay Thai gyms in Bangkok. I am more physically and mentally connected, focused, and aware of my thoughts and decisions.
All of this makes me want to give back. I focus my spare time on helping various charities, especially an orphanage for children in Thailand who lost their parents during the tsunami. I am happy to be an outspoken advocate for the plant-based lifestyle. There are many celebrities out there who took their first (but not last) vegan meal with me or under my guidance. The results are always the same—they get blown away!
Through this lifestyle, I have connected with athletes, authors, actors, and Oscar winners on a personal level. I have helped people who have struggled with addiction and helped them through their transition to a new, better version of themselves. Being credible, believable, and authentic is everything, and eating a plant-based diet is the most honest and truthful you can be—to yourself and the planet.
Ian Norrington and John Joseph