How do we relate to proteins, and more generally to food? This question seems unnecessary, but it is closely linked to our culture and our relations with the living world.
In our affluent society, we hardly care about the value of a food (its value as a good, the respect we can have for it and not its nutritional value ) and this is often the case as soon as something becomes mundane. Where it becomes very meaningful and where the value of diet is undermined is when it plays a predominant role, the typical example of course being bodybuilding.
The complete disconnection of the power supply
For me, bodybuilding and veganism are two concepts that appear at first glance to be diametrically opposed. On the one hand, we try to improve ourselves as much as possible, by focusing on strictly personal development. On the other hand, we try to make living beings depend at least on our daily lives, for the sake of equality vis-à-vis all sensitive forms of life. Here, development is collective.
I became vegan quite quickly, but looking back, I now realize the difference between my current lifestyle and the one I had before. My lifestyle was focused on physical development and I tried to optimize two of the main factors: training and diet.
For training, I was able to learn through my sports coaching studies how to structure my sessions, which gave me the means to understand how to progress. Regarding diet, I also understood that in order to progress, I had to learn to optimize my meals in order to build muscle and increase my performance.
But the more I went, the more I disconnected from food. In fact, I see the problem mostly with protein. As everyone knows, they play a major role in building muscle. Being omnivorous, I ate meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.
But as I strength training the amounts are increased and the more I progressed the less I valued these foods. I couldn’t even realize that they were pieces of animals, pieces of life, which I decided to take not to survive but to be better.
I was so engrossed in my own success that I could never wonder if it was possible to do otherwise, if there was an alternative that would allow me to achieve my goals without relying on animals. It had become a stable and normal routine for me. If I want to get the protein I need, I have to eat this steak, I have to eat these eggs, I have to eat this can of tuna.
I had come to a point where I saw food only as a number of calories, a number of protein, as a quantity. I had become a machine that needed to be filled with precise dosages in order to achieve my goals.
When I switched to a vegan diet, I gradually understood what food was, what is behind a protein level, behind a life form. The food industry is doing everything to disconnect the consumer from the plate. This is not a theory, it is true and it is completely normal.
The business strategy
Meat is a special consumer product, because we associate a varying degree of emotion with the animal behind the steak. We know that, but we don’t necessarily ask ourselves too many questions (like I did at the time).
But if we replace the steak with any other consumer good, such as a bottle of water or even a good that is not food like a cap, we no longer doubt about the commercial strategies and all the marketing that is put in place to make consumers want to buy it.
This is where you understand that there is no difference. Animal protein is a commodity with market values, and from there it has to create an appetite for consumption in order for the industry that puts it on the market to thrive, to keep going.
The industry cannot afford to instill “negative business emotions” (such as compassion for the beef that made the steak) in the potential customer, otherwise they will not buy it. not. It’s purely commercial.
Associate meat with strength and virility, say that the proteins of ‘plant origin are of lesser quality, are examples among many others that support the persistent myth that sport and more particularly bodybuilding are not compatible with a vegan diet.
However, all of the nutrients of animal origin which are essential in muscle development and in the pursuit of sporting goals are found in foods of plant origin, be it proteins, iron, calcium, omega 3, etc… To see in my free guide under this article.
Please note that deficiency is not impossible, but it is found as much in people who consume animal products as in people who do not. It’s just a matter of knowing how to eat, and is where the difference is .
By the way, my challenge of watching what happens during my first year of bodybuilding and veganism association allows me to see directly if physical performance and muscle mass are impacted or not.
The progressive reconnection
When I realized all of this, when I realized how much I couldn’t continue to make others depend on my lifestyle, I wanted to change my diet. But I understand at the same time why I was not succeeding, I understand how the industry had succeeded in shaping my mind to allow me to carry out actions for which I was supposed to be intended (you play sports or you do bodybuilding, you eat meat) and to make sure that I place a low value on food, in order to consume more and more.
Now I see food as something precious and noble, which must be preserved and respected. Whether vis-à-vis vegetable protein sources (beans reds, soybeans, split peas, lentils…) or for everything else. This is why I am no longer really looking at the amount of my shopping and I know that as soon as I have the opportunity, I will eat as much as possible organic because I no longer have the same relationship with food.
When I go shopping it might sound crazy but I never look at the prices and I don’t even look at the receipt. By the way, I realize as I write these lines, I don’t even remember the last time I looked at the amount of a receipt.
After all, what will it change? Personally, it won’t change my life that a product has increased by 10 cents or that my groceries have cost 1 euro more than last time. I know that the savings are made elsewhere because I have developed good habits, such as limiting as much as possible sweet or refined foods without nutritional value.
Veganism, which encompasses nutrition and lifestyle, is a new way of understanding my environment, which allows me to surpass the more or less egocentric foundations of traditional bodybuilding, by adding a dimension of respect to my food. I am learning a lot from this new way of life.