“Vegetarian: The ancient tribal name for the village idiot who can’t hunt, fish, or light a fire.”
Ok, in the interest of full disclosure, I have decided to become that idiot. Since Thanksgiving I have been on a plant-based diet. Other than a couple of dinners with friends, Christmas morning, and a lobster dinner on New Year’s Eve, I have been strictly vegetarian.
Why am I telling you this? Maybe I’m looking for some support. The old, “If you tell others what you are doing you will be more likely to achieve your goal” trick. Remember, I was raised on a farm where we had a steady supply of chicken, pork, and beef. In rural Iowa nearly every meal includes some form of animal protein whether in a sandwich, a stew, or served whole on a platter.
And Sunday was the best. We would have a large, slow cooked beef roast with potatoes and carrots. My mother would turn the pan juices into a succulent gravy we would ladle over the entire meal. And if that wasn’t enough goodness, the left-over beef would be ground up into a near paste like substance. She would then add mayonnaise and pickle relish to create the best sandwich spread for my school lunches.
So, you might be wondering why I have chosen to go vegetarian. Well, a movie convinced me to give it a try. Late last year I watched a documentary on Netflix called The Game Changers, a film that covers the journey of several elite athletes and firefighters who decided to move to a plant-based diet. As you might imagine, the reported benefits were positive, otherwise why produce the movie? While the goals for each individual were different, the outcomes were encouraging. Some lost weight, some lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol, while others reported having more energy; this was particularly true for the firefighter group. Research has also found there to be lower incidents of cancer among vegetarians. These are all reasons for my moving to a vegetarian diet.
What interested me the most was a cyclist who at the age of 39, made the U.S. Olympic Team. Not only did Dotsie Bausch make the team, but she improved her personal best times since moving to a plant-based diet. She credits her new nutrition regimen with her ability to earn a silver medal at the 2012 London games. As an older runner, that got my attention. So, I thought, let’s give this new food routine a try and see what happens! The road race scene in Austin is very competitive, even in the old guy division. I would like to see if I can lower my age group PR over the next year.
It has been an interesting journey so far. Giving up meat was not as big a deal as I thought it was going to be. The biggest challenge was finding recipes I enjoyed eating. If I couldn’t find meals that I like, this change would be most challenging. So far, the trek has been hit and miss. There have been a few bombs, but I’ve also had my share of successes. I will pass on to you my personal victories even if you are not planning on changing over to a plant-based diet but would just want to change it up one night a week. Maybe give the idea of ‘Meatless Monday’s’ a try and see how it goes.
If you are wondering how this has affected my running so far, I’ve not run a race since the dietary change. The first test will be the Statesman Capital 10K here in Austin in early April. However, I can report to you my training times have gone down by about 30 seconds per mile, so the prognosis for that upcoming race is good.
Even if you are not trying to make the Olympic Team or become a competitive age group athlete, give moving to a plant-based diet a shot. The reported benefits of increased energy, weight loss, improved cholesterol readings, lower blood pressure, clearer thinking and a longer healthy life will be worth the effort!
Enjoy your journey!
Gary A. Weuve, CFP®
Founder and CEO
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