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I am a MEAT EATER!  Just look at my sample diets.  I’ve eaten meats probably just about every day my whole life.  I love meat.  I’ve spent most of my life drinking milk, eating eggs and cheese, devouring steaks, hamburgers, chicken, turkey, fish, and basically doing everything vegans say is bad for you!  Since starting P90X in Feb. 2010, I gave up some of those items (milk, cheese, most beef products, whole eggs), but the lean meats have continued to be a prominent part of my daily nutrition.

So why on earth am I qualified to talk about the vegan diet?  Well, I’m not!  But…. that’s all about to change!!

I’ve experimented with lots of nutrition plans since starting P90X over a year and a half ago.  I have done a high protein calorie deficit diet during round 1 to melt fat.  I have done a balanced healthy diet to maintain in round 2 and 3.  I have done a high carb calorie surplus diet during round 4 to build muscle mass.  But I’ve always turned a deaf ear to the whole vegetarian / vegan conversation.  UNTIL NOW …….

Yes, that’s right.  Coach Wayne is going to start a little experiment.  I’m calling this the 60 day teamRIPPED vegan challenge.

This whole concept of going to a whole food plant based diet may seem too overwhelming, too impractical, and too much to wrap your head around.  That’s totally fine.  Ignore me, at least for now!  Just eating right and getting into a fat shredder plan may seem intimidating enough, and if that’s you, just let this whole vegan conversation go on in the background but don’t feel obligated to try it.  But maybe later you will decide to implement some or all of these practices into your own diet to see what it does for you.  I’m anxious to see what it does for me!

How it will work = I will spend the next 30 days learning and getting my feet wet.  I’ve already ordered some beginner books like “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant Based Nutrition” and “Eat Vegan on $4 per day”.  Both are available on Amazon.  I’m also SO FORTUNATE to have access to the best mentor a newbie vegan could hope for (but I’ll tell you more about her in a future article …).  She will definitely teach me a TON about how to incorporate a plant based whole food diet into elite athletics, because I have no desire to be a scrawny vegan.  I want to have a built, muscular physique AND keep my body looking good on the inside too.

I encourage all of you who might be interested in joining me to spend the next few weeks studying some intro books and watching some documentaries.  Specifically, I’d say “Forks over Knives” is a MUST SEE!  It’s what finally forced me to stop ignoring vegan as a nutritional possibility and embrace the idea of giving this a shot.  You can watch it over the internet if you have a Netflix account.  I watched it and the evidence about worldwide cancer trends really hit a nerve with me.

On November 1st, I am going to create a private FB group for all that are interested in participating in this challenge.  That can be our place to interact, share ideas, and learn from the experts.  No, I’m not an expert.  I’m a complete dummy when it comes to the vegan diet.  But I have friends in high places, so we will have some brilliant people who practice the vegan diet who have volunteered to be a resource for our group.  I plan to launch the 60 day vegan challenge NOVEMBER 1st — for the final 60 days of 2011 (November and December).

What are the rules?  None really.  Well, one … You have to come at this with an open mind.  I was always closed-minded to the idea of vegan diets.  I’m not a “tree hugging hippie” after all!  You don’t have to buy into everything vegan to be part of this challenge.  You just have to be willing to study it, learn about it, and then decide if it suits you or not.  Think of this as more of a resource for interested people rather than a “my way or the highway” group.  You can be at any point of any workout program; it makes no difference.

If you want to go vegetarian and try giving up just meat, that’s fine.  If you want to go farther and try giving up dairy, that’s great.  And if you want to go all out vegan and give up meat, dairy, eggs, whey protein, yogurt, and the whole 9 yards, that’s fine.  We can each come into this challenge with our own goals and intentions.  We can each come into it with our own reasons why — ethical, physical, disease prevention, weight loss, always wanted to see what it’s like to be a rabbit, whatever (LOL kidding about that last one).

As for my reasons to try this = I am not too proud or stubborn to try new things that could be a better way of doing them.  If a plant based whole food diet can help prevent diseases like cancer, then it’s worth my time to look into it.  Does it complicate my life at first?  Probably!   But then again, so did switching from junk food and fast food to my fat shredder diet, and I’m so glad I did!  Before starting P90X, I would have followed up that opening sentence of “I’m a meat eater” with “I’m also a fast food junkie and a candy-holic”.  If I can kick those habits, why not this?

My reasons aren’t ethical.  As a Bible believing Christian, I think the Bible is clear on a few points.  #1 God created us originally to be vegetarian before the fall (Gen 1:29), and in our final paradise we will be vegetarian again (since there will be no more death).  #2 after the flood, God gave Noah permission to eat animals as food (Gen 9:3).  #3 Jesus may or may not have been vegetarian Himself — the Bible never clearly states that Jesus ate meat or fish — but He clearly participated in preparing fish for others to eat in the feeding of the 5,000 and when he cooked fish for His disciples.  So I don’t have a faith-based reason to either advocate or oppose a vegan diet.  I believe either way is perfectly acceptable within my Christian faith.

My reasons aren’t for weight loss.  Can a vegan diet help obese people lose weight?  I’m sure it can.  But I’m already ripped! LOL!  I don’t need a diet change in order to change my body composition.  I’m perfectly happy with how I look on the OUTSIDE.  But what about the inside?  And what about the inside over the next 50 or 60 years??  Will my current meat based diet be the best for that?  I no longer think so!

My reasons for wanting to try a vegan diet are two fold = #1 to understand the plant based whole food diet better and see if it is practical as a balanced diet for athletes like us who are pushing our bodies hard (can we get enough protein?  Is “enough protein” a myth?).  And #2 to learn more about the research that shows that plant based whole food diets lead to MUCH LOWER risk of cancers.  I have a family history of cancers, and if it’s true that animal proteins stimulate cancer proliferation, then why on earth would I want to put animal proteins in my body when I could use plant proteins instead?  Sure, not everyone who eats meat gets cancer.  But then again, not everyone who smokes gets cancer either.  It doesn’t mean I should smoke.

And what will my 60 day vegan experiment look like?  I am going to go totally off all meats, all dairy, and all eggs.  I will greatly reduce my whey protein consumption as well, but not go completely off it.  I will continue to use Shakeology and Results / Recovery formula (both of which have a small amount of whey), but I will use a plant based protein powder in place of my usual whey protein powder.  So my 60 days will be a “99% vegan” :-).  And if I am hooked by the end of the 60 days and continue with my plant based diet, I will switch to the vegan Shakeology when it comes out in 2012.

Will I shrivel up and look like a weakling without slabs of meat to gnaw on every day?  I hope not!  :-).  But we’ll just have to try it and see!!!  People sit around and debate it all day, but instead of debating it, I want to TRY IT!  After all, I’ve experimented with a lot of things over my year and a half journey (cutting, bulking, supplements, no supplements).  So why not try this and see what I learn.  Tony Horton himself practices a lot of vegan principles in his own diet, and he’s got a few muscles for a 53 year old!!  So maybe there’s a way to do it right!  Plus, P90X2 will have a full vegan nutrition plan developed for us by Tony’s personal cook, so this will give all of us a head start on understanding it and seeing it in practice.

I know that many of you already are vegan, and if you want to join this challenge with the newbies like me and encourage us along, that would be great (and I’d really appreciate you guys coming along side us!!).  And many others have dabbled with the idea of implementing some vegan principles into their diet.  If that’s you and you want to hook up together to learn more, then join us as well!

Many of you are just starting and the idea of going vegan for even a day sounds completely INSANE!  If that’s you, don’t sweat it!  Stick to the diets I’ve used over the past year and half (the 1900 fat shredder, the 40/40/20 balanced diet, and the bulking diet).  Those have clearly worked wonders for me.  Heck, the idea of going plant based even makes my head spin, and I can do my P90X diets in my sleep.  This will be a whole new adventure for me.

I never would have even entertained this concept a year ago.  Or even 6 months ago.  It was a big enough change just going from a crappy American diet to clean eating.  But now that I’m a clean eater by habit, the vegan approach is only another step for me — a complicated step, but one that with some effort and time I should be able to get a handle on — and with the help of our experts who you’ll meet soon :-).

Am I committing to being a vegan for life?  No!  But I am committing to give this 60 days with an open mind and spend that time learning more about both sides of the vegan vs. meat and dairy debate.

I encourage any of you who want to do this to start thinking more about it, and plan on joining us at our private facebook group when I post it on November 1st.

So now what?  Don’t start asking me all sorts of questions about the vegan diet.  I have no clue!   That would be like asking someone who just ordered P90X about how to get max results.  Hopefully  after 90 days, I’ll have a much better understanding of the vegan diet and be able to share with others how to have a big, muscular physique on a vegan diet.  But for now, I’m baby stepping so come baby step with me!

Okay, enough rambling!  Let me know if you want to be part of this 60 day challenge!  It launches November 1st, exactly 60 days before the P90X2 challenge which will launch Jan 1st, 2012!!!  Oh yeah!!

And in the meantime, watch “Forks over Knives” and start reading!  I’ll be posting on this topic a few more times between now and November 1st, introducing you to our plant based whole foods diet expert / female bodybuilder (who is also in P90X2 but I don’t want to spoil the surprise yet).  I’ll also be posting updates on what I’m learning as I try to get out ahead of y’all and start implementing this in my own diet ahead of November 1st so that I can help get y’all started.

Keep bringing it!

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