A year of plant-based cycling

I started with a plant-based diet on January 1st of 2021, after reading books and watching the Game Changers documentary on Netflix. In the past I have followed a vegetarian diet for 15 years and started eating meat in 2013. I was diagnosed with Sarcoidoses, and my doctors advised me to start eating meat. To be honest, I don’t think it was specifically related to Sarcoidoses. You don’t need to eat meat to be cured. But I did feel better shortly after turning into a full-on carnivore.

But, what I also did really well that time, was eating foods that I knew wouldn’t cause problems for my body. As Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease, I figured out that I shouldn’t add more stress to the body.

  • No mental-stress (meditate)
  • No work-stress (set boundaries)
  • No training-stress (track HRV)
  • No food-intake stress (no crap food)

This went really well for a while… for as long as I had physical issues and was still ill from Sarcoidoses. But like most humans… this discipline slowly disappeared.

Why back to it?

In 2020 – at the beginning of the lockdowns, I decided to lose a bit of weight and figure out why my irritable bowel was still bothering me (a lifelong problem). I have several allergies and I have been tested on intolerances, but it never led to definitive answers. My doctor insisted it is stress-related, but I am not entirely convinced stress is the only factor.

After the first few kilograms, my weight became stagnant, not bad, but I wanted to lose a bit more. But decided to first adopt the plant-based diet for health reasons and only after I got used to it, then try to lose weight again.

I choose fully plant-based and not vegetarian because I know dairy is causing me many problems and eggs sometimes too. Also, after seeing Game Changers and other plant-based documentaries, I was convinced that plant-based is the way to go.

A clean bowel and clean blood is my target and that keeps me from cheating. And I didn’t cheat the first 9 months. During the Green Divide ride, I decided to eat a vegetarian pizza with regular cheese. Because well… vegan pizzas with vegan cheese suck. Period. As a result of eating real melted cheese, I couldn’t sleep very well. As it turns out, real melted cheese was a bit too hard to digest. But the pizza was divine. A good cheating moment and I don’t regret it.

During the Green Divide meals were vegetarian at best. Sometimes I was just glad to have food, like the veggie kroketten, they came at the right time.

My findings after a year on a plant-based diet

  • No more bowel issues. I have a normal, problem-free belly, no pains or bloating (unless I eat a lot of bread). Dairy and eggs play a big factor here!
  • There are a lot of vegan options nowadays. More than I had back in the day when I first started with a vegetarian diet. Not just alternatives to meat, but alternatives to cheese, even cream cheese (Oatly, I love you!). Just don’t try and melt vegan cheese for pizza or grilled cheese sandwiches, that is just awful.
  • With all these options, you can easily have a poor (fast food type) plant-based diet without trying very hard. Making the health reasons obsolete and hard to lose weight.
  • I have a great quality of sleep. The 3 times I cheated with a proper (cheese) pizza I didn’t sleep.
  • ahem… I have no more gas problems at night…
  • I feel strong and energized during the day. My cycling performance hasn’t suffered at all. I’ve grown as a cyclist, doing longer rides, improving my FTP and sprint capacity. And I’m still improving.
  • Being the only vegan in the household, we have a lot of dishes…