Should All Surfers Be VEGAN?

by | Jan 15, 2019

Veganism has grown massively around the world in the last few years, in increase in popularity has been especially noticeable here in the UK. We wanted to delve deeper into what it means to be vegan and why people do it . I’m sure you’ve all heard the stories about ‘militant vegans’ and ‘vegan extremists’ trying to force veganism down peoples throats and get us to change. But what does it mean to be a vegan in the UK and what does it mean to be a vegan surfer?

Let’s get the basics of being Vegan and Veganism, what even is it? A Vegan is someone who abstains from consuming, using and supporting the exploitation of animals, aiming to cause as little harm as possible. Vegan’s do not eat or use any animal products, this includes; meat, cheese, dairy, eggs and even honey. Vegans do not support animal testing and do not buy any products that have been tested on animals, or have any animal products or byproducts in them. This includes things like leather belts, couches suede bags, toiletries and make up.

You may be thinking, that’s a lot of things you can’t have, do, or eat, what can you eat?!  Why would anyone want to be be vegan?! Well hear us out…

As surfers we are just like any other normal folk, we have jobs, families and friends but we like the action of surfing, because of surfing’s very nature. We spend time in places abundant with sea life, interacting with animals and experiencing first hand local Eco systems. Some people might say that surfers have a deeper connection with nature than most, because our very sport uses the waves mother nature provides. if you have spent any time with a surfer, you will know that most of us, in fact probably 99.9% of us want to keep our beaches clean, our waters healthy and plastic free. We are mini Eco-warriors who care about preserving our beautiful coastline and surfing in crystal clear, plastic-free, waves. 

You may still be wondering what all this has to do with being Vegan? Well quite a lot actually. Being Vegan has a few more benefits than just saving some animals, it’s so much more! A lot of our pro surfing hero’s are making the change, so maybe there is something about it that we haven’t thought of?

Surfers like 11-time World Champ – Kelly Slater and two-times World Champ – John John both enjoy a vegan diet and both made the change after they “Became increasingly aware of food and its effec.ts on the human body. A lot of today’s research, including from studies all over the world and governing body’s suggesting that a Whole-Foods, Plant-Based diet is the most optimal for human health. All signs point to a plant based diet as a far better option for human health and performance when compared to that of high animal-product intake.”

The Benefits Of Being A Vegan Surfer 

  1. It’s the Best Way to Help Animals & Sea Life

It’s fair to say we care more about the ocean than most people, because it’s our playground, our place of solitude, so we have a vested interest in protecting it, being as eco-friendly as possible and helping protect the environment is definitely on most surfers agenda. You have probably witnessed if not first hand, certainly on video, footage of places like Bali, with barrelling waves of plastic and it is truly heartbreaking. So we like to keep where we live and our local breaks clean, doing beach clean ups, supporting local businesses that are actively environmentally conscious and friendly.

If there was an oil spill, or a sewage plant leak at your local break, you would be up in arms, especially if your town depended on tourism – as lot of good surf areas in the UK do; having a clean, healthy and thriving eco-system is pretty important to business.

Did you know that animal farming and the production if meat is the number one pollutant of the sea, with their toxic waste products ending up in the sea?

Did you also know that just one person going Vegan saves nearly 200 animals per year? That includes marine life like fish! The easiest way you can help your local community and marine life is as simple as reducing your animal produce intake. Not to mention all the other living creatures you will help, preventing the unnecessary suffering, just by choosing plant-based foods over meateggs, and dairy products.

  1. Slim Down, Shred More, Become Energised

if you’re looking in to some surf mags recently, or any surf platform online, you will probably see us surfers are a pretty lean bunch… with a few exceptions. Staying lean with a healthy body fat percentage keeps us in top surfing shape, so if you have a few extra pounds to lose, why not give it a go? Some of the highest calorie foods include meat, dairy, eggs and in particular milk, but they also lack in other nutrients like fibre, which is essential for a healthy digestive system. Where as a plant-based diet is packed with with fibre, micro nutrients, essential vitamins, minerals and much lower in calories. Overall Vegans are, on average, up to 20lbs/9Kg lighter than meat-eaters.

A lot of pro surfers are finding the benefits of keeping body fat low and energy levels high, but remember this isn’t just a fad diet, or something to do for a quick fix, it’s a total life style change. One that can be easily sustained throughout your entire life and unlike unhealthy fad diets, which leave you feeling tired and don’t keep the pounds off for long, going vegan allows you to keep the excess fat off for good and have plenty of energy.

  1. Be Healthier, Happier & Live Longer

If you’re looking to surf for as long as you can in this life. listen up! We’ve got the answer and no its not the fountain of youth. Being vegan is also great for your health! Not only that it’s also great for improved performance. According to the the World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Vegans are less likely to develop heart diseasecancerdiabetes, and high blood pressure, when compared to their meat-eating counterparts. When you think about it, it makes total sense, you are eating more vegetables, beans, lentils, legumes, nuts and seeds. All of which are super healthy and nutritionally dense, you also cut out a lot of highly inflammatory foods such as; milk, meat and eggs, which are more acidic and cause inflammation in the body.

Vegans are not only healthier and leaner but they are also more likely to get all their daily nutrient requirements, that the body needs to be healthy, such as plant protein, fibre, fats, complex carbs, as well as vitamins and minerals. They can get almost everything they need from plants, without all the nasty stuff in meat that may slow you down and make you sick such as; cholesterol, saturated animal fats and IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor-1 hormone).

All these things will put your immune system into over-drive, making it less effective when things like the common cold and flu viruses come around. They decrease energy levels, and in the long-term can lead to a decreased energy expenditure as well as poor overall health.

So if you want to be surfing well in to your 70’s and beyond, maybe switch to a more plant based diet. You never know, it you might still be surfing at 100.

  1. Vegan Food Is Better for Surfers + It’s Delicious

There is nothing like that post surf hunger, the intensity and the speed at which most surfers can demolish a post-surf burrito is incredible; what about if you could have all your favourite foods in the world and they were vegan. Meaning you could continue to enjoy all those delicious foods, whilst reducing your carbon footprint, therefore reducing negative impact on the environment you love so much.

Speaking of burritos these are a staple in the surf community, especially in places like California and they are so easy to veganise! All you have to do is take out the meat, cheese, sour cream and it’s vegan, not to mention a pretty decent post surf meal. if you were to go vegan, it’s easier than even to do and you can still eat all your favourite foods including; burgers“chicken” sandwiches, and ice cream. The only difference is you’ll be ditching the cruelty, cholesterol and the inflammation that go hand in hand with eating animal products and instead switching it to a healthier, more environmentally friendly and ethical plant-based version.

Most supermarkets now stock a good range of vegan brands, if not stocking their own branded vegan friendly foods too, restaurants are also following suit creating amazing, mouthwatering dishes and having a vegan menu. There has been a surge in the increasing demand for vegan food in the UK, with 5% of the UK population now saying they are vegan and this percentage is only growing! As more information about the environmental impact animal produce has on the planet, combined with the health benefits of plant based foods being spoken about more.

This shift will keep companies coming out with more delicious meat and dairy-free options that taste incredible.

Here are just a few that are dishing up the goods; Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, M&S, Tesco and even Iceland all have a huge vegan range now, with plant-based, meat substitutes that look and taste like the real thing, but are much healthier than their animal-derived counterparts and don’t hurt any living beings.

If you can get you hands on some ‘Beyond Meat’ burgers they will blow your mind!

  1. Meat Is More Likely To Make You Ill 

If there is one thing surfers don’t want, it’s to be ill when an epic swell arrives at your local break. Going plant-based could be the better option to to improve your immune system, keep your gut healthy and limit you exposure to harmful bacteria. Animal products and meats are often contaminated with faeces which often contain some harmful bacteria , such as Salmonella and E-Coli to name a couple. This is why animal food is most likely to make you ill, or give you food poisoning, it’s not very often, hear of some one eating raw broccoli and getting food poisoning, but eating a dodgy chicken curry can definitely set you back a few days.

A recent inspection of chicken flesh found that 96% of Tyson chicken packages were contaminated with Campylobacter, a dangerous bacteria that causes 2.4 million cases of food poisoning each year, resulting in diarrhoea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever. Now that doesn’t sound great! Recent studies in america also stated that eating animal foods such as; chickens, pigs and cows, as well as their by-products like dairy and eggs, was the cause of over 2.4 million illnesses and 5000 deaths in one year!

  1. Help Feed the World

If you want to see a better tomorrow you’ve got to act today! if you eat meat it doesn’t just affect the animals,  it affects people too. Even in today’s super high-tech world there are still millions of people that go hungry and die because of lack of food available. Producing meat on an industrial scale takes tonnes of crops and grains to feed the animals that we breed for slaughter.

Did you know it takes up to 13 pounds of grain, to produce just 1 pound of animal flesh! The sheer volume of grain required to feed the animals would be enough to feed 1000’s of people. With the meat we eat only accounting for 18% of our overall daily calories, that 18% could be better spent on less environmentally damaging and ethically grown foods; like the grains and crops we currently feed to livestock.

The more people that switch to a plant-based vegan diet, the less of a negative impact we have on the planet and with less animals being reared for food, the more crops and grains we have to feed the hungry.

  1. Save the Planet

it’s the challenge of our lifetime and as surfers we see a lot of the negative effects of climate change and pollution first hand; dwindling sea life, poor water quality (bad enough to make you sick) and plastic pollution like never before. It seems like reducing our impact on the planet is no easy feat… However there is one way we can help, if anything it’s the best way we can create the most positive impact in reducing our CO2 emissions and it couldn’t be easier… Go Vegan.

Meat is one of the worst things for the environment, from the land needed to rear these animals, to the volume of crops grown and processed for the animals, to the actual amount of animals themselves, 70 billion are slaughtered each year. The amount of CO2 they produce and the byproducts that get into our water ways quite often create dead zones, poisoning so much marina life, not to mention the effect on your average surfers health.

The carbon emissions created simply by feeding 70 Billion animals and the production of the animal produce after slaughter on its own is unfathomable. It’s well documented that the animal agriculture industry is the single biggest causer of climate change. Adopting a Vegan diet is more effective than switching to a “greener” or electric car in the struggle against climate change.

Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet, could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73%. Meanwhile, if everyone stopped eating these foods, they found that global farmland use could be reduced by 75%, an area equivalent to the size of the US, China, Australia and the EU combined! Not only would this result in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions, it would also free up wild land lost to agriculture, one of the primary causes for mass wildlife extinction. Now that we know we have just 12 years to make some serious changes, going Vegan sounds like a pretty easy place to start!

 

  1. A lot Of Pros Are Switching To A Vegan Lifestyle 

The list of surfers who are opting to choose a plant based diet for health and performance reasons is growing, aside from Kelly Slater and john john Florence you’ve got surfing power couple, Alana Blanchard and jack Freestone who live animal product free and are still performing pretty well. Other pros and influential surfers include Rob Machado, Rasta, Carissa Moore, Maurice Cole, Nikki Van Dijk and Tia Blanco all big names who made the choice based on health and compassionate reasons.

It’s not only the pros who can make the change though, big time Hollywood actors and keen surfer Chris and Liam Hemsworth, both adopted a vegan lifestyle for health and compassionate reasons and never looked back. Alongside other Hollywood A-listers that are also paving the way like; Natalie Portman, Ariana Grande, Alicia Silverstone, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Miley Cyrus, Neo and Carrie Underwood.

  1. More Energy = More Surf 

As surfers we are always looking at any way to catch more waves and have more tube time. A recent study found that vegetarians and Vegans in particular tend to have more energy than their meat-eating counter parts, this is perfect if you’ve got a busy line up, having better energy levels might just add a few extra waves into your next session. It’s important to note that previous studies found higher levels of body fat and cholesterol in meat eaters when compared to vegans. The cholesterol and saturated animal fat found in meat, eggs, and dairy products eventually clog the arteries to your heart over time and for us guys that means they impede blood flow to other vital organs as well…

  1. Save The Whales But Not the Pigs

We as people have a weird thing when it comes to animals, we have a lot of favouritism in the UK when it comes to certain species; we love dogs and have them as our pets, we eat pigs and won’t think twice about, but in contrast are outraged when we see places like China eating dogs, the very thought of it causes distress.

We draw a line in the sand between animals considered ‘food’ and animals considered our pets, when in reality they all animals, through documentaries like Blue Planet we find out about whales and their dwindling numbers, we want to know what we can do to save them. On the other hand in japan whales are hunted and killed “for research” code name for –  feeding japan. We have these double standards for these creatures, one we happy to eat, the other we would be horrified to even think about it. Think about it… Would you eat your own dog or cat? Maybe your guinea pig or rabbit? They’re exactly the same as pigschickensfishcows and in fact they are just as intelligent! They can feel fear and excitement, as well as pain and suffering and are even able to have complex relationships . Pigs are so intelligent in fact, they can even learn to play video games!

Thoughts 

 Now reading all this you might think it’s interesting, or you might think that a preachy vegan wrote it…. You might be right. As a surfer and someone who ate meat for 26 years of their life, I have now been plant-based for around 3 of the last years and living a vegan lifestyle for 2 years.  i can see the stark contrast in my health and performance in surfing and ways of thinking. i no longer suffer from an array of gastro-intestinal/stomach related health issues, no more bloating, no more heartburn and acid reflux, no more feeling lethargic all the time and my surfing energy is higher than ever!

I’m probably in the leanest shape possible since becoming vegan and enjoy some of the clearest thinking, bye bye brain fog! i also have the lowest cholesterol levels and and visceral fat percentage i have had in 10 years. When you can see those positive health changes in such a short space of time, you really want to talk about it so other people can feel as good as you do!

 

Let us know if you found this blog helpful, would you like us to write more blogs like this? Even if you hated it all feedback is valuable. 

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