My Experience Going Vegetarian, Then Vegan

By Patrick McGilvray,

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I love food.

I love to talk about it, shop for it, make it, and I really love to eat it. This did not always make for a very healthy lifestyle, but I’ve made significant changes over the years. I became active, lost weight, and moved to a vegan diet.

Since becoming a vegetarian in 2009, I’ve had many discussions about the love of food, nutrition, and diet. Some endurance athletes I know say they could never be vegetarians because they “need the protein.” Others say they are mostly vegetarian but could never give up their beloved dairy.

In 2011, I went on a vegan diet. In just a few months after eliminating dairy from my diet, I could already see and feel the positive impact. I sleep great, have more energy, and no longer feel sluggish or bloated. I have never felt better in my life.

After taking this additional step, I noticed my discussions about my diet shifted in tone. Most people I talked to “get” vegetarianism. We could all benefit from giving up meat, they say, but why would anyone give up all animal products? No eggs? No milk? No cheese? No way!

Although I personally felt much better eliminating all animal products from my diet, watching Forks Over Knives in November 2011 provided me with the means to better articulate the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle.

I see now with clarity why eating a plant-based diet is the best option for my overall health and wellness. I understand now how eliminating meat and dairy doesn’t just make me feel better, it can prevent and even reverse afflictions like heart disease and diabetes. I don’t know about you, but my idea of good health does not involve pills, stents, or bypasses.

I am a marathon runner and a triathlete. I work out 6-8 times per week and get all the nutrients I need (including protein) from a plant-based diet. Some world-class vegan athletes like ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek, Ironman Brendan Brazier, and Ultraman Rich Roll agree. These guys are at the top of their games and they’re doing it without eating animal-based foods.

My passion for food remains firmly intact, but now I get to create nutritious, great-tasting meals every day without worrying about the unhealthy consequences.

[Editor's Update 2015: Catch up with Patrick at The Vegan Road]

Has a whole-food, plant-based diet impacted your life?

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