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Turning vegan

Louis is a 59 year old vegan physiotherapist, manual therapist and kinesiologist. With his wife he has 3 + 2 kids and runs a practice in Purmerend: Bijman en Helsloot.
His sporting background is athletics with jumping as his specialty: 2:05m high. His best marathon time is 3:05. He improved is 70.3 triathlon time from 6:10 to 5:24.


What drove you to decide to become a vegan?
The first reason was the viewing of two documentaries: ‘What the health‘ and ‘Cowspiracy‘. After that I decided to look further into the subject and the stories of people that turned vegan. Besides the stories about people with hard to explain diseases that felt better I was also very much inspired by athletes. For example Carl Lewis who became vegetarian at first and vegan afterwards in 1990. He ran his best race a year later. Another example is Scott Jurek who won the Hardrock 100 and the Badwater Ultramarathon twice in a row. He also wrote a book ‘eat and run‘. At this moment Lewis Hamilton, the Formula 1 world champion is one of the more famous ones. One of the the other reasons besides the inspiration is the pollution that goes hand in hand with the mass production of meat.

Was it hard to do?
In the beginning I had very clear change in my taste which led to a lot of vegan products not tasting well. This improved after one month and the I didn’t feel the need to go back to my old eating pattern. So for myself it wasn’t hard but it was for the people around me. At least they thought it wasn’t very social. Something weird that I probably only would keep up for a few months. After all it was something I did ‘cold turkey’.

Do you have doubts or cheatdays may be?
The doubts I have are because of the impact it has on my family and they are not always to thrilled about it. Maybe I was a bit selfish in pushing this decision through and not informing my partner enough in advance. For myself I do not have any doubts; I just don’t believe anymore in eating animal products.
I had 2 ‘cheatdays’, both for social reasons: once when friends came over from South Africa and brought some very special meat, which I couldn’t refuse. The other one when I was in South Africa myself with my wife. But all in all no effort to stick to my decision.
We still have some discussion about it but my partner is a great cook and really supports me!

What were the mental and physical consequences?
Physically I became much stronger. I went from 88kg to 74kg and my fat percentage dropped to 8 from 20. My running is now at the same level it was 10 years ago. For example my interval training before I became vegan was at 4:20/km (10x1000m). Now I do them easily at 3:20/km. My half marathon time went down to 1:26. I did the 30km race at Schoorl in my best time ever: 2:07.
All in all I am much better in balance both mentally and physically.

How hard is it for you to cook now?
It is not hard to do. I am in a environment where a lot of people share ideas and there are a lot of vegan cooking books. Even the big supermarkets are picking up vegan.
Especially in this time of year there are a lot of different vegetables available and sometimes I also chose meat replacement products, otherwise some dishes can’t be made.

Will you stick to this for the next 30 years?
If it is up to me certainly!

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