–Written by Sam Nicoletti, AKA The Tiniest Sprinter–
hola and holla, all! it is i, sam n, and this is my guest bloggin’ post for kennettron5000!
last week kennet asked me to write something to post up here about what it means to be vegan. the vagueness of that request was appealing to me, because it meant i could pretty much point this topic in just about any direction i wanted to and pull the trigger. unfortunately, just like when i’m faced with too many kinds of apples to choose from at the grocery store, instead of making a decision and moving on, i choked…
anyway, after days and days of standing in a puddle of my own drool, staring slack-jawed at the mind-boggling variety of crispy fruit, i think i’m finally ready to put something in my cart and check out. and by that, i mean i’m ready to write something. about being vegan, not about apples. although apples are vegan. see how i came full circle and linked everything up there? that’s called “magnificent writing,” dear readers, and you can learn more about it at your local library.
ok, on to the vegan stuff!
first off, i’d like to say that being vegan is a lot like bike racing, in that both of them are really awesome. being vegan is like bike racing in other ways too. try to follow me here: imagine the racer as the vegan person, and the bike as the vegan guidelines that they ride on. as all of us who race bicycles know, the racers are the boring half of that equation, right? right! so we’re going to focus on the bikes.
obviously, in a bike race, not everyone rides the same bicycle. while all race bikes have some strong similarities and the same ultimate goals (speed, efficiency, expensiveness), there are still so many different kinds. some people ride konas, some people and their moms ride matching cervelos, some fancy people ride vanillas, some old people ride treks while wearing black shoes, postal service jerseys, and clip-on rearview mirrors… the list goes on and on. furthermore, even if three people all ride the same type of bicycle frame, it’s very likely that two of them will be using brands of components crafted out of twigs, dog feces, bad dreams, and baby tears, and the third might be using campy.
vegetarian stuff is just like that.
you’ve got a lot of people who are vegetarian (myself included), and while there are some basic rules that most of us share, there are so many different approaches that you can’t safely just lump us all together.
as far as i know, none of us eat red meat, and almost all of us refrain from eating birds. bicycles have two wheels and handlebars, and most have brakes. you dig?
from there, the types of vegan/vegetarian lifestyles start to differentiate from one another with the details. lacto-ovo vegetarians don’t eat any meat, but do have milk and eggs. there’s a word for the people who include fish as well, although i can’t think of it right now and i certainly can’t be bothered to reference the internet. there are people who don’t eat meat as a general rule, but make exceptions for meat that comes from animals that were raised on certain kinds of farms and/or killed in a certain fashion. there are all kinds of rule-sets that people make for themselves and their vegetarian diet, and even more reasons for each them.
and then you have the strict vegetarians, or vegans. that’s how i roll. in this brand of vegetarianism, you stay away from all animal products. you don’t eat cows or pigs, you don’t eat shrimp or sardines, and you don’t eat eggs or dairy. you don’t eat whey protein, you don’t eat gelatin, and you don’t eat fish oil pills. this brand has probably the least amount of variation. you can only buy it built up with campy. there are still some gray areas for sure – do you eat white sugar, sometimes bleached with bone char? do you drink beer that’s made with isingless finnings or gelatin? how about honey? – but they’re not as big as whether or not you consider fish to be meat.
if it comes from an animal, whether you cut it off of them, squeeze it out of them, or take it from their nest, you just stay away. those are the “rules.”
i put “rules” in quotes because it’s a convenient way to describe the lifestyle, but it’s not what i would consider the right word. if people imagine there are rules, then they can easily picture drawing a line between ok and not ok, so in that regard, “rules” is a helpful word. in reality though, every rule of a vegetarian lifestyle is generally self-imposed, so “choice” is probably a much more accurate word. if somebody really wants to fit a strict definition of a certain type of vegetarian, then by all means they should approach it as something with set rules to obey, but i personally don’t know anybody that lives the veg life for that reason.
and that brings us to the reasons to be vegetarian! jesus, i haven’t made a transition that slick since i was wearing elastic-waisted jeans in middle level writing class!
ok, so just like saddle choice is totally personal and not really worth trying to analyze too closely, the reasons to abstain from eating animals are as numerous as the people who abstain from eating animals. probably more, actually, because i know i have a lot more than just one reason. i’ve got health reasons, environmental reasons, and of course moral reasons.
everything else takes a back seat to the moral reasons in my eyes, though. there’s a lot that goes on in the animals-for-food industry that i think anybody would be hard-pressed to justify, and i’m not ok with that. however, that’s a post for another day – and on my own blog. i’ll just say this: even if being vegan made me slower and shortened my life expectancy, i’d still do it.
that said, the good news is it probably does just the opposite! all the fly studies show that doing the vegan thing is good for your ticker and your fudge factory (heart and colon), and i can say with complete certainty that my athletic performance right now is the best it’s ever been. also, i haven’t been sick in like 2 years. and i’m really good looking.
now don’t get me wrong, as a big fan of science, i’m not about to attribute the above to me being vegan. i obviously haven’t done experiments and used bunsen burners and squeezed bulb pipettes or anything, so don’t think i’m claiming that being vegan is the answer to a stinky crud cavern and consistent dfl finishes. i’m not. all i’m saying is, it certainly hasn’t appeared to hurt me any, and my gut tells me that it helps.
also, keep in mind that, as a good vegan, i pay some attention to my diet to make sure i’m not missing anything i need. a bad vegan could easily turn into a big pile of health crisis if he or she ate freedom fries for every meal, but note that the exact same thing holds true for the omnivore. a bad diet is a bad diet, meat or no meat. i really believe that having a good diet is easier as a vegan though. i get a lot of questions about what i do for vitamin/mineral supplements and protein, and the answer is pretty much “eat lots of vegetables.” i take a b12 vitamin, and that’s it. plant-based foods have no shortage of the things that are generally associated with meat and dairy, and they have so much of the things that people lack when they displace vegetables with more meat and dairy. i’d love to start throwing around facts right now, but “facts” on “blogs” on the “internet” written by “vegan bike racers” probably come across as “credible” in the same way that 50 cent comes across as “a good rapper,” so i’ll refrain (i’ll also stop using quotation marks so much). i’ll just say this: it seems wacky to me that some people think a vegan diet for an athlete is crazy and full of supplements and pills and whatnot, when those same people are drinking accelerade-hammer-whey-powder-4:1-saltlick-shitsoup from water bottles all ride long before going home and making a milkshake-smoothie-3000%-daily-value-protein-barf-stew with a few scoops of mystery powder from a big tub. if one supplements as an omnivore, they’ll probably supplement as a vegan, and if that person doesn’t supplement as an omnivore, there’s certainly no reason they’d have to start if they made a vegan switch.
oh, and being a vegan makes it pretty easy to be skinny if you want, which i hear makes your powertap graphs all ten kinds of better…
and that’s how being vegan/vegetarian is just like racing bicycles! it was a flawless analogy, am i right? of course i’m right! all right!
ok, i’m gonna pinch this one off.
but not before putting in one more cuss word:
i fucking love you all,
the tiniest sprinter
ps: kennet, i can’t wait to see what you type up for my web blog. bonus points if you work derek’s mom into it somehow.
pps: kennet, please add baby pictures to this, if you feel up to it. the secret to finding the best baby pictures is searching for “fill in the blank baby” on google, and using whatever comes up on the first page so that you don’t have to waste energy clicking the little arrow at the bottom.