I don’t know how to put this in words, but for the best part of my life I was a prolific meat eater. Meat to me was a wholesome diet and going to vegetarian food invites was something to be avoided. However, I couldn’t help noticing that my digestion took a hit with all that meaty protein intake and my body felt ‘heavy’ after ingesting such stuff. There were some other effects too, like the formation of phlegm and feeling of rigidity in my joints. To add insult to injury body weight was off the charts and my belly …. well, .. it was so bad that I couldn’t see my feet looking down.
I was also becoming asthmatic and had trouble walking up staircases. All that weight lumbered down on my knee joints and soon they were creaking too. In desperation, I searched for answers in modern medicine. There were none. One of my cousins who is a qualified medical doctor advised me to try Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a system of herbal medicine in my country. It is actually a lifestyle oriented system, with particular emphasis on diet. I started off into Ayurveda and after a month or so, noticed that my weight was trimming down and my digestion had improved dramatically.
Ayurveda had helped me cut down weight drastically. However, my belly and hips still carried a lot of flab. Ayurvedic doctors advised me to cut down on sugar and on … MEAT ! That was like a punch to my solar plexus. Oooof ! They also told me that I had to avoid dairy milk that was coming off the departmental stores. According to them it was too thick and had chemicals in it. The native aka indigenous cow variety milk was supposed to be the best thing for me.
Needless to say I did not follow the advise for quite some time. This went on till I started taking part in duathlons and half marathons. In case you didn’t know duathlons are races which involve both running and cycling. On the race track I was too flabby compared to most athletes, who were lean and muscular. Most of the top performers had almost no belly flab. Compared to my friends and acquaintances I appeared quite fit, but this turned out to be a mirage when it came to the athletic track. This was the same story in scuba and free diving. The instructors and regular divers were like chiselled up to the last shred, with almost no body fat, excluding the odd exceptions. Which meant that yours truly had no option but to take the plunge into the seemingly drab and dreary world of vegetarians or worse — the vegan world.
Greens and the wonders of a light feeling !!
However, once I tested the vegetarian waters, things turned out to be a breeze. Cutting down on my sugar intake and chopping out meat transformed my rigid and heavy body feel to a fluid and light one. The change was noticeable once I took to long distance bike touring. 100 kilometres a day on my bike was like no sweat. Meanwhile dairy products continued to bug me. I noticed that my body was not comfortable with commercial dairy products and there were no other options available to me regarding native cow milk. That meant that dairy was off my menu too. This didn’t hurt me in any way and my athletic activity continued unabated.
Once I went down the vegan oriented trail, other things came to my notice too i.e. animal abuse in the meat and dairy industry. Thanks mostly to information from my social accounts like Twitter, I have come across articles on unimaginable cruelty being inflicted on animals to sustain the ever burgeoning demand for meat and dairy products. Now, am not going to start a full blown venting on this issue here, but it does rankle me.
To be honest I am not very strict about my vegan streak. This has to do with the fact that there are hundreds of people groups in my country, each following their own culture and dialect. In some tribal groups it is customary to serve the guests with meat dishes ( the menu can be downright weird ) and it is considered a great dishonour to turn down the menu. Since my bike and adventure journeys often take me to the remote regions of my Indian peninsula, I do not have the luxury of following the vegan lifestyle to it’s full extent.
This article is in no way an evangelical effort to convert meat and dairy consuming people to a vegan lifestyle. It’s just a description of how things worked out for me. I would however like people to switch from a meat and dairy hogging lifestyle to one where the intake of such is lessened to a great degree. As far as athletics is concerned there is no data to confirm that a vegan lifestyle is superior when it comes to performance. Changing one’s dietary habits is also governed by so many other factors which includes pre-existing medical conditions. In such cases, professional advise from medical practitioners should be sought.
P.S.: Edited article replacing biathlon with duathlon, duathlon is the correct terminology.