As a professional snowboarder I have eaten meat my whole life. I loved my Sunday roasts and Gran’s meat-potato pies but in two-thousand and nineteen I made the switch to become completely vegetarian – and I love it!! Every vegetarian is different with what they do or do not eat, hence our non-black-and-white health rule at Captain Hale. I decided to stop eating all types of meat, including fish as well as gelatine in sweets.
I was never one to eat lots of meat and gradually started to dislike the look of what was on my plate: a dead animal. I started to reduce the amount I ate and stopped cooking it altogether, especially when I was travelling and snowboarding. I was eating vegetarian for months without even realising. I decided to make the switch for a number of reasons:
I) A PERSONAL CHALLENGE
This year especially, I really wanted to challenge my eating habits. I have always been a fussy eater and generally quite scared of trying new foods. I made the decision to take myself out of my comfort zone by becoming completely vegetarian. This proved to be challenging at restaurants as it forced me to order foods that I would have never previously tried before. I have loved every new ingredient so far.
Nutrition is really important to me as I train at least five times a week, both on snow and in the gym. Making the switch to vegetarianism has really made me focus on what I am putting into my body to make sure I have the right nutrients and get my protein from elsewhere, such as nuts, chick peas, beans and lentils. Since I am not vegan, I still eat eggs and dairy products. I use eggs as a main source of protein, such as eggs on whole-grain toast and omelettes.
I have not noticed any difference in the way my body feels as I am still as fit, strong and happy as ever. Some people take vitamin B12 for energy since it is usually found in meat products, but so far I have not felt the need to take any supplements. I make sure to get all of my nutrients from my day-to-day ingredients.
II) PLANET EARTH
Growing up, I was never taught at school about the harmful impacts on the planet due to the mass production of livestock. I stumbled across some statistics which were really shocking and made me struggle to understand why this seems to be such a big secret. I learnt that the production of one beef burger uses the same amount of water used for two months worth of showers… Crazy right? Agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction due to the land it uses for production, as shown by the depletion and burning of the Amazon Rainforest affecting all the people, animals and wildlife that inhabit it. The amount of greenhouse gases produced by the mass production of livestock is way larger than all transport put together; this includes cars, planes, trains, boats etc. All this new information definitely contributed to my decision to become vegetarian.
In all honesty, this is my favourite reason for dedicating myself to be vegetarian. I know I am contributing to help save the planet and as a professional snowboarder this is a particularly important cause. I need snow for my career, and through my observations and experience climate change is already starting to alter the seasons.
I am not vegan but I do try to eat vegan meals when available. Travelling through Europe it can be quite difficult, yet back home in the U.K. there are so many vegan alternatives that are so good for you and also very tasty! I definitely recommend trying some of these products, such as vegan burgers (most of them you can find in your local supermarket).
If you are thinking about becoming vegetarian, it might be easier to take it slow at first. Gradually start eating less and less meat. Perhaps on certain days of the week you can try to be a total veggie or vegan and see how you feel. Personally, it is so much easier than I imagined and I do not have to think about it anymore. At the start, I completely stopped eating meat and fish, but gradually started to cut out gelatine as well. I have a huge sweet tooth and generally keep some sweets in my backpack in case I need a quick energy boost whilst training. I transitioned from gelatine sweets to vegetarian sweets, which in my opinion taste just as good, if not even better.