A Six-Year Journey to Veganism: Health, Ethics, and Athletic Achievement.
For the past six years, I have been on a transformative journey as a vegan. At the age of 36, I found myself in a downward spiral, despite my extensive history in regional, national and international racket sports and playing competitions. What I didn’t realize at the time was that my decision to transition to veganism in 2017 would become a turning point in my life.
The catalyst for my shift towards veganism was caused by positive and negative events. The accountancy business I run took on a local vegan café as a client, which introduced me to a new community and network. During this time, I met Idan Naor, who has a wealth of knowledge on veganism. However, what truly pushed me towards veganism was the untimely passing of two clients, one in their 50s from cancer and the other in their 60s from an unexpected heart attack. The latter was particularly poignant as I had a business breakfast scheduled with him the morning after his tragic demise, and he happened to be the chairman of our local business networking group.
‘Watching the documentary “What the Health” on Netflix in October 2017 marked a turning point. I decided to give up meat, followed by fish, and eggs, completing my transition to a vegan lifestyle.’
These events prompted me to investigate the root causes of chronic diseases. Through discussions at the Feel Good café in Chingford and my personal research, it became evident that veganism offered not only health benefits but also aligned with a more ethical and compassionate way of life. Watching the documentary “What the Health” on Netflix in October 2017 marked a turning point. I decided to give up meat, followed by fish, and eggs, completing my transition to a vegan lifestyle. Dairy had already been off my menu for a year due to allergies.
In the following six months, my health improved significantly. I experienced better digestion, weight loss, and a remarkable surge in energy levels and mental clarity. It was as if I had been living with a perpetual food hangover, a condition I had never even realized until it was gone. Consuming animal products throughout my life, I likened this transformation to recovering from the effects of alcohol. My mind felt sharper, akin to the concept portrayed in the film “Limitless,” where a blue pill enhances cognitive abilities, unlocking untapped potential.
Despite these benefits, there were challenges along the way. The rise of vegan ‘junk food’ initially enticed me, blurring the line between what is healthy and what is not. Over time, however, I became more educated through my expanding vegan network, leading me to reduce my sugar intake and limit heavily processed meals and substitutes.
More recently, I have shifted my focus towards whole food, plant-based ingredients and making mindful dietary choices. As a parent and business owner, I have limited time, so I employ strategies like using an air fryer and incorporating frozen vegetables into my meals.
‘I have achieved what I consider to be my greatest accomplishment, reaching the semifinals of the World Championships in a niche sport called Racketlon.’
From an athletic perspective, my vegan journey has led to a remarkable resurgence in my performance. At 36, I believed my best sporting days were behind me. However, I have achieved what I consider to be my greatest accomplishment, reaching the semifinals of the World Championships in a niche sport called Racketlon. This sport combines table tennis, badminton, squash, and tennis. The achievement was beyond my wildest dreams, and it is clear that as a vegan athlete, I am ageing gracefully, especially as I focus on weightlifting and muscle building. While my peers are regressing, I am proud to be among the best players in the world in my age group.
In the past 18 months, I have made significant strides in improving my health. I have shed two stone in weight, going from my all-time heaviest at the age of 40, weighing 92 kg, down to a healthier 78 kg. This weight loss has had a profound impact, enabling me to move with ease on the squash court and regain my fitness and strength.
I can now successfully compete with opponents 20 years my junior. There is always more work to do. As my business career has matured, it has also allowed me to invest in coaching. Whether that is personal development, business coaching, tennis coaching, table tennis coaching, squash coaching or a personal trainer at various points. It has allowed me to develop all facets needed in playing a range of racket sports.
‘I have never been healthier. The impact both on myself personally as well as cementing my ethics for speciesism and treating animals fairly alongside the imperative situation regarding planetary health means only one outcome.’
‘Through eating foods like tofu and tempeh, I keep my protein intake reasonable, whilst not consuming high calorie junk food. If in need of a quick fix or after training if cooking isn’t practical, a Huel product or similar does the job. I have also adopted intermittent fasting and have introduced good bacteria, gut-enhancing foods like kimchi and sauerkraut alongside Kombucha. Having children hasn’t been easy especially when one consequence is children rejecting various foods and in steps the parent eats extra (to avoid waste), however is important not to eat for the sake of eating. Thankfully a portion of tempeh dipped in guacamole leaves one feeling especially full. With a good mix of nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, fruits and veggies, I have never been healthier. The impact both on myself personally as well as cementing my ethics for speciesism and treating animals fairly alongside the imperative situation regarding planetary health means only one outcome.
It’s not easy in some respects as clearly some friendships are weaker due to the championing of brainwashed meat consumption however one positive is having an excuse to skip the gluttonous experience of a family Christmas dinner. I do take a multi vitamin (as I always have since a teenager), which includes vitamin B12, and sometimes extra vitamin D on top.
‘Choosing veganism has been the right decision for my personal health, the planet, and the welfare of animals.’
In conclusion, my six-year journey to veganism has been transformative, impacting my health, ethical beliefs, and athletic achievements. Although there were challenges along the way, the benefits have far outweighed the difficulties. Choosing veganism has been the right decision for my personal health, the planet, and the welfare of animals. As I continue to make conscious choices and embrace the vegan lifestyle, I look forward to further enhancing my well-being and contributing positively to the world around me. This journey is a testament to the power of personal choices and the potential for positive change in our lives and our communities.
Keith Lesser, October 2023. Website: veganaccountants.co.uk