Being a Male Vegan: My Experience as a Personal Trainer in the Vegan World

Author: Mitch Lower (IVWT Community Member) | Instagram

Vegans are often incorrectly associated with malnutrition and weakness. Constantly being asked, ‘Where do you get your protein?’, is very annoying. As the majority of vegans are women, there is also a perception that male vegans are not ‘masculine’.  Luckily, this way of thinking is starting to change.

Not only has my passion for health and fitness led to me being in a minority as a vegan, but being male determined that I was now a minority within a minority. What does someone who is passionate about health and fitness do? They live in the gym. They wake up and go to the gym. They come home and go to the gym, and in my case, I also work at the gym. Finishing my fitness course, and landing my first job in the fitness industry, coincided with my research for a healthier lifestyle, which pushed me towards veganism.

You may not experience them all, but here are some of the things I, and the few vegan men I know, have experienced:

10 Things to Expect Being a Male Vegan

1. Your Physique Will Change

Vegan can be seen as an extreme diet because all of the things you have to give up; meat (this includes fish), dairy, eggs, honey, and any other foods that may contain milk products (trust me, there are a lot of them). However, for everything you have to give up, there is an alternative to help you make the switch.
You will see the best physique changes if you choose a whole-foods plant based (WFPB) diet. The hormones, high calories and various other factors in animal products, make the switch to low-calorie, nutrient-dense plant foods, a sure-fire way to change your body. Vegan alternatives such as mock meats, vegan cheeses, and other processed foods are there to help make the transition easier, but everyone should give WFPB living a shot.

2. Banter

When you are interacting with your mates, you are going to be the punchline of jokes, as a male vegan, more often than not. Most of it is harmless fun, especially coming from true friends. However, it’s the stuff that is said by acquaintances that will probably get on your nerves the most. Every day at the gym, I put up with names like ‘soy boy’ or ‘vegan hippy’ or comments about ‘brittle vegan bones’.

My tip to get through it would be to educate yourself and join in. Don’t be afraid of sticking up for yourself. You should do it in a playful manner, however, so that the situation doesn’t escalate. My favourite rebuttal is stating that I think it interesting that *insert aggressor’s name here* still drinks breast milk!

3. Questions

As a male vegan, you are likely to be more frequently challenged by people who are inquisitive about your decision to abstain from animal products. This is because it is more unusual for men to be vegan. So, expect a lot of questions from people. Everyone; from your parents, friends, colleagues, clients, your cousin, your cousin’s dog groomer, and even your cousin’s dog, will ask you about your protein sources. This will generally be followed by, ‘But don’t you miss meat?’. Of course, there are plenty of other questions that will be thrown at you, but my biggest piece of advice is to be prepared.

Do your research and think about these answers. In my experience, I have had the most success talking about the environmental and the health benefits of a vegan diet. Many people get quite defensive when you point out that they are murdering animals.

4. Attention

Now this point comes down to whether or not you put yourself into social situations. From what I have seen online, on vegan Facebook groups, there are a whole lot of vegans looking for a vegan partner. It makes sense, right? You want your partner to have the same core values as yourself. The core values of being a vegan; kindness, compassion, empathy, etc., are values that are quite attractive, particularly to vegan women, and if you display those characteristics, how can you lose?

5. Pressure

Now this is a more personal one for me. I have felt pressure to perform and be the best version of myself to prove the doubters wrong. You may or may not have that same desire. However, you will still feel external pressure from your family and friends in certain scenarios. Your mother may not agree with your decision to become vegan. Your grandparents may cook you up a roast on Christmas day. How much pressure is there to accept that food? Your friends may also bring up veganism as an abnormal or bad thing.

So, there is some pressure when choosing veganism. My advice to you is that you find your own way to deal with it. Mine was to push myself physically, in order to relieve some of the pressure I felt as a male vegan. My friends stopped putting the pressure on me, when I became physically fitter than all of them!

6. Increased Libido

Need I say more? Well yes, I need to. It has been well documented that a whole-foods plant-based diet can help with diseases of the vascular system; heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s, have all been shown to improve when we stop eating saturated fats. It is obvious then, that this same diet can affect our sex lives. Check out The Game Changers documentary, where there is a funny little bit on this topic. Essentially, you will experience longer, harder erections after going plant-based, due to improved blood flow. So, for any men reading this blog, if you have trouble getting it up, you should seriously consider the health of your heart and other organs of the body and go vegan.

7. Becoming Mentally Tougher

The pressure, the insults, the constant criticism; all of these things can seem like too much, however, there are benefits to being exposed to this stuff more often. You become mentally tough. That’s right: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, mentally speaking.
You will break barriers, physically and mentally that you weren’t able to break before. You will invite criticism and deflect it with facts and knowledge. It will empower you. Every person who says, ‘Oh I don’t think I could ever give up meat.’, will seem less annoying , because you were the person who could do it. Your strength and determination to follow your ethics will lead you to unlocking more of yourself than you ever thought possible.

8. Becoming a Better Cook

This one is obvious, right? When you make the vegan switch, you are going to have to find your new favourite meals. That requires a playful approach in the kitchen and possibly, like me, spending a lot more time in the kitchen and improving your skills as a cook. Before I became vegan, I would cook myself dinner. However, like most people, I felt stuck eating the same stuff over and over again. My go-to meal was a steak, two hash browns, and a side of steamed veggies. Now I have expanded my cooking skills to include meals like curries, stir fries, sushi bowls, sushi rolls, rice paper rolls and much more.
Overall, I’m eating a greater variety of foods as well. Nowadays, with all the vegan mock meats and alternatives out there, it’s easy to replicate your favourite meals. Be warned though, because you might get lazy and settle for those same meals again and again. Variety is the thing; branch out, express yourself, try new flavours and take advantage of the millions of fantastic recipes on the net.

9. Getting Sick of TV Ads

This one is frustrating, and almost inescapable. You will start to notice how much advertising affects what we eat. Meat, milk and other processed, junk food dominates the TV. Indoctrination, some people call it.
Bigger burgers, more cheese, more meat, full-fat milk, Australian beef and lamb… Did I mention bigger burgers yet? It is constant, and it is scary. When you look at the world through a different lens, you realise why it was so easy to have your old lens on in the first place. Of course, there are some advertising campaigns for plant-based alternatives and vegan options. However, If someone has to pay money to advertise a product in order for you to buy it, do you really need it?

10. Regular Bowel Movements

“I can go a few days without shitting,” my work colleague often complains to me. Unfortunately, this is all too common. Constipation, and the complications that come with it, is a problem mostly associated with the standard Western diet. A lack of fibre and water in animal products makes for an awfully hard time pushing one through. When you switch the eggs for smoothies, the fish for tofu, and the meat for vegetables, fibre intake goes through the roof. Fruits and vegetables also contain a fair amount of water. Be careful not to go full fibre monster straight away, though, as your gut needs time to get used to the increased fibre content, otherwise, you will have the runs and painful bloating to go along with it. My tip is to increase your daily fibre intake by 5g every two weeks.

So, now what?

After reading about all the benefits and challenges that come from switching to veganism, you may feel stuck. You might wonder, How do I transition? Where can I meet new vegan friends? How can I learn about adequate nutrition? These worries are totally normal, and the best thing is that the Internet can bring us together.
My first recommendation would be to join some local vegan Facebook groups. You can also follow some well-known vegan Instagrammers. Most importantly, you can sign up to IN VEGANS WE TRUST for FREE to start connecting and flourishing with other vegan individuals and businesses!

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