What I eat in a day - Going plant based and growing muscle

Since embarking on my journey towards a more ethical and conscious lifestyle one of the biggest areas that I am yet to change is my diet. Agriculture has a huge impact on human, environmental and animal health and is one of the biggest polluters in the world today. The effects of this capitalist agricultural system have caused issues ranging from the destruction of habitats and the release of greenhouse gasses to the creation of seed monopoly's, farmer suicides and populations riddled with obesity and disease.

Since working with some of these large agchem companies I decided that it was time for a diet change. This has been quite hard for me personally as I have lots of conflicting and niche requirements from my diet. For over 10 years I have struggled with swollen joints, pain, headaches a bad stomach, bad circulation to name a few. Because of this, in 2014 I had a major diet overhaul that was not that easy to do; I cut out most of my alcohol, smoking, wheat, dairy produce and three years on I'm happy with what I've achieved. I also started taking supplements trying to cut out sugar and focusing on my fitness.  Personally, I'm happy with my progress, but I now think its time for the next big diet change focusing on the impact my diet has on the environment. 

I currently eat red meat with every meal because I have been focusing on building my muscle mass at the gym with weight training. I have also not really thought about food miles, organic food, or GMO's, all of which I would like to address in this, my next diet overhaul.
Incorporating all of these needs into a new diet plan I found quite tricky, it has taken a while to come up with all my meal plans that let me hit all of my macros especially my protein. Finding substitutes for meat in some meals was quite hard, and as I'm not a big soy fan this what I eat in a day is defiantly a work in 
progress.

Breakfast:

This is defiantly my most important meal of the day if you want to get fit or lose weight you have to eat a good breakfast. This stops you snacking, replenishes your muscles and wakes your body up for the day. I like to start the day with an English breakfast every day, I either have eggs and beans or veg omelette and beans. On the weekend, I might add some cheeky bacon or sausage as long as they are organic and free range. This helps me start my day with a good 20-30g of protein some fats and some carbs, depending on the day it also can give me between one and three of my five a day. I usually wash this down with an almond coffee or a hot honey and lemon if I'm feeling extra. 

A good vegan alternative to this meal would be protein bread with beans or avocado. I personally found that if you have something fatty early in the morning it stops you craving fatty food throughout the day. Whatever you eat in the morning is what sets your metabolism throughout the day, so if you eat fat you will burn fat and if you eat carbs you will burn carbs. Just make sure these fats are good fats that are natural; organic butter if you are going all out or some slices of avocado if you are vegan.

After breakfast around 10am, I like to have a snack and my morning  BCAAs. I try and have a snack of either nuts, protein oats or peanut butter rice cakes. I feel like this keeps me going and gives me a massive energy boost from the carbohydrates mid-morning.

Lunch:

For lunch, I have replaced my mince and baked potatoes with Quorn mince and baked potato, or Quorn pieces with quinoa and veg. Another high protein meal I have been enjoying without red meat is tuna mayo pasta, with red lentil protein pasta and veg. This has about 46g of protein per serving with only a  little fat if you use light mayo, or vegan mayo if you don't like eggs. Another swap I have made in this meal is replacing rice with quinoa or potatoes. Rice is a very needy crop and needs large amounts of water to grow so I have been trying to keep away from it.

I try and include at least two portions of veg in at lunchtime to help keep my fibre and micronutrient levels high. As I'm trying to minimise my meat intake, I also sometimes will have protein pasta with kidney beans and vegan pesto and peas. This is so easy to make it takes about 5 minutes to cook and prepare and it has lots of good healthy fats, carbs and you can get about 32g of protein for a medium size serving! I used to have this with sweetcorn mixed in but I have recently found out that much of the corn, or corn derivatives are made from GMO corn which I want to stay away from. 

Usually, around four o'clock it is time for a snack and I defiantly need an energy boost! I like to have a piece of fruit if I haven't had one in the morning. If I have had some sometimes I will have a protein bar at this point in the day with a cup of tea! It sounds strange but I find it really hard to eat the amount of protein I need to in a day to grow any muscle so this is an easy way to get some extra protein in; they are also delicious.
Dinner:

For dinner, I like to keep it fairly light, high in good quality protein and relatively simple. I will usually have chicken or Quorn with a sweet potato or jacket potato and some veg. Usually, for dinner I  try and include broccoli and kale every night for some high-quality nutrients and plenty of vitamin K. If it is the weekend I also enjoy making a big curry; I think its really important to have a big hot dinner especially in colder months.

There is a perception of curry as an unhealthy food, however, it just depends on what you put in it. Essentially it can be chicken/quorn/ chickpeas and cauliflower with veg and spices which is really healthy. I usually have it with quinoa or if I'm making a big veg curry I chuck in some sweet potatoes. 

Whichever I choose I try to make sure I get around 35g of protein with my main meal, which helps me reach my macros. I think it's important to get most of your protein when you are growing muscle from your diet and not just rely on low-quality proteins from shakes and bars.
Before I go to the gym I like to have my second BCAA of the day; when I 've finished I like to have a protein shake and a banana if I'm feeling very organised or some more rice cakes or a Gluten-free crumpet if not!

This is obviously just what I have been trying for the past few weeks but I just wanted to share my thoughts on diet as I feel like this is where a lot of people get quite lost with fitness. People either seem to eat too much of the wrong foods or eat nothing to try and lose weight. I'm going to be trying to stick to this till February to see if I can reach my goals with muscle growth. I also wanted to show that even if your a big meat eater or are into fitness you don't have to rely on animal derivatives to reach your fitness goals.

As it is Vegan month this month I did consider going vegan even though I am not on principle against farming animals or eating meat. My issue around eating meat is more to do with the environmental impact of intensive farming and the way animals are kept to reach this demand for animal products. 

For me personally, there is a difference I feel between hunting or low impact organic farming to large-scale intensive farming systems. Also, it has been estimated that just one stake is the equivalent of 1000Ltrs of water which just blows my mind, that's around 6 months of showers!

If you are interested in fitness and health it is even more important to avoid most of the products I have talked about above; as if you are trying to change the way you look certain foods can really slow down this journey for you. Even if you don't care about the environment or animal cruelty there is a proven health effect of eating large quantities of meat. This is not just the obvious things like bowel cancer, but constantly consuming animal products filled with growth hormones and antibiotics will not help you get rid of body fat. 


Diet and the environment:

To some people, this may not seem very plant-based but it is really hard to hit your macros without much red meat/ meat. I also try an hit between 105g and 125g of protein daily which is over my body weight. Incorporating the Quorn and only eating red meat in the morning occasionally have been my biggest changes which have been quite big changes for me. Another change I have made is upping my good carbs and decreasing the calories I get from sugar and processed snacks. I have also recently given up soy and any corn derivatives after I have been looking into GMO products a bit more and how they can affect peoples health. This is also one of the reasons that I have given up most red meat unless its organic, as in the UK if animals are fed GMO's their milk and meat do not have to be labelled as containing GMOs. This concerns me because of the issues surrounding the bioaccumulation of toxins through food chains and the use of antibiotics in farm animals.

Eating this diet also ensures I eat 7-9 portions of fruit or veg a day with most of that coming from veg. This is something important to note if you are vegan, as just because you don't eat meat it does not mean that your diet is not damaging the environment. Tropical fruit, nuts and rice are all foods with very high levels of emissions. Try swapping tropical fruit for seasonal local fruit, rice for quinoa or potatoes and swapping nuts for homemade hummus and dip.

This diet emits 5 kgCO2e/day, a vegan diet would be 4kgCO2e/day and normal diet is 8kgCO2e/day. I think this is really encouraging as just with a few simple changes we can nearly half our carbon footprint from our diets. The highest-emitting food for me was bananas followed by the eggs, meat and cashew nuts the recommendation was to switch the bananas for pears or dates or apricots or peaches or apples which would be easy to do.

I know I have a lot of work still to do but I'm still making steps towards a better and more environmentally friendly diet. Next, I want to eliminate all red meat and or look at making only more local choices,  Lauras Larder is an amazing resource if you actually want to look at the environmental impact of your diet. It is interesting to see especially if you are on a vegan diet, how environmentally friendly your diet really is.


I hope you have all really enjoyed my post and it has given some good sound health advice and a little bit of help for people looking to keep slim but tone up and build some more muscle. I really wanted to show that it is possible to do this is a nutritious and environmentally friendly way.

2 comments

  1. I think you've done a heck of a lot of research Ethical Bunny! And drawn many different facets of the health movement together. I will post you on my facebook page.

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    1. Hello, thank you! I wanted to combine eating for the environment with a healthy diet that would help people loose weight and build muscle. I wanted to show that you can do both and it's important to think about what we eat in terms of the environmental impact. I also wanted to show that we can reduce the carbon emissions from our diet by 40% without cutting out meat or eggs!

      Thank you :)

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