The Vegan Experiment, the results

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Ok, so I will admit I was not able to keep the posts running like I hoped to. Mostly due to my work commitments which just skyrocketed in the later part of the month. So here are the highlights.

Day 15
Started running again

Day 16
Freestyling my cooking, well winging it. Looked like crap but tasted good.

Day 17
Random meetings! Well work was full on trying to juggle having food was tough as I did not bring any from home today. Fruit skewers FTW!

Day 18
Saturday at home and then gym 5.89k on the bike

Day 19
Ride and feel tired got protein. Simple eh?

Day 20
Gym was the main highlight 5.92 on the bike

Day 21
We had massive storms that wiped out power. Ate a lot of trail mix.

Day 22
It really is the whole food experiment. Being vegan has really forced me to eat better. I feel that I lack the conviction that it takes to be vegan. I do believe in ethical farming and really honey????

Day 23
Conversation with Workmates. Is it all really a non event? If i eat 95% whole unprocessed food is that what its really all about from a personal health point of view

I’m note here for the ethical or conviction point of view. But what I have done is present a scientific approach to clearing my body of crap and only putting hihg quailty un proccessed naturalk foods into my body. Being vegan actually made that much easier.

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Day 24,
Forgot I was vegan. No I didn’t stuff up. Its just become the norm for me this last few weeks. Back to the gym 6.3k

25 cafe
Went to a vegan cafe, felt crap afterwards…

Day 26 race day and sorbet

Nailed it. 1st place i Club grade race

Day 27

Kinda like being vegan
went to the gym, did a recovery ride.

Day 28
The great milk debacle… Well my wife cooked with milk instead of almond milk. Found out after 3 mouth-fulls.

Day 29
The lollie jar. We have a lollie jar at work. It has been so easy not to touch it since i started this. My brain just says, you don’t eat that…

Day 30
Last day

Day 31?


Being vegan takes some prep but is really easy. I don’t want to go back to meat and risk this great sense of wellbeing that I have…


Day 14 The Vegan Experiment. More Bread!

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So for those playing along at home you will know that I have been experimenting with handmade bread for the past few days trying to make the perfect vegan bread recipe. Well I got it working in the end but it really is A LOT OF WORK. As you know I spent my birthday at the Cyclocross racing and I was lucky enough to have my wife buy me a bread maker as I gift. This is really cool. Although after my first attempt using the “Vegan” Recipe i had it din not work that well. I really like it but it ended up a bit doughy. I need to work on the cooking time I think. She manged to make a much better loaf then I did but I will be out for another go!

Day 13 The Vegan Experiment. Convictions and sweet potato

After all has settled for the past few days with racing and visitors I find myself at my local supermarket again. My wife asked to have a sweet potato and chickpea dish which she had found a recipe for. I wandered through the cold food section looking for humus (yes i know i can make it home and had the ingredients juts not the time and inclination for 1/4 cup of it) The bacon caught my eye as I had walked through the aisle. I thought to myself, “I can’t eat that”, “Why can’t you?”, “because I’m vegan.” “Why?”….

Thats when it kind of struck me. Can you be vegan or anything “extreme” without a conviction as to why you have made this choice? I have found myself asking this question at the gym and when I’m riding on the trainer at home. Why do you put yourself through this? The answer is simply to make me a better person. Mentally, physically, to feel that I’m making a difference in the world where I can and that starts with me. Is this why I’m doing this vegan experiment? Will I stay vegan after the fact? I’m not sure. It is the halfway mark. My only real gripe with being vegan so far has been the time it takes to get food prepared. The foods that I miss are more convenient things. I do miss the simplicity of chicken and I enjoyed the theater of bacon and eggs for breakfast. I have been eating my normal intake of calories and have lost about 1.5 kg’s in the week. I have done the same amount of exercise as I normally did. I’m the same person, not a “Vegan”. I guess the excitement of it has worn off and its easy to go back to what you know, time will tell…

Oh and dinner? Well that turned out pretty good. Sweet potato, roast chick peas, cherry tomatoes and a dill humus sauce. More sauce next time 🙂

2015-04-13 19.30.34

Day 12 The Vegan Experiment: Cyclocross is here!

After the last few months of racing in crits and training and falling off, it was finally the day of my first Cyclocross race.

The kids were excited and we arrived at the day for registration. Emily wanted to go tin the participation event, Connor the kids race and I had elected to go into the Elite Cyclocross division. The moment I had signed up I started to regret doing it. Looking around I saw some face in the open division that I knew and had raced against before.

Emily went first in her participation event. For this the kids rode around the velodrome and out up the gate, around some cones and back in. Within a lap most kids had abandoned the push up the side of the velodrome and just rode around and around. Em went for the full ten minutes before getting upset that the event had not lasted longer.

Connor pushing is bike up on of the hills. This obstacle was what later punctured my rear
Connor pushing is bike up on of the hills. This obstacle was what later punctured my rear

After cheering his sister on Connor entered the kids race. He set off with as much enthusiasm as I have ever seen from him. However it became clear quickly that the kids twice his age were over twice as fast. Given the difficulty of the terrain he pressed on pushing his bike up and down the sections more then riding. With a great amount of confidence he rode of the dirt embankment with a flurry of pedals and speed. Halfway up the hill something happened and before anybody knew what happened he was over the side of the bike with his foot stuck under the seat. After some deliberation he decided to retire and fight again another day.

Going up "Stairway to Heaven"
Going up “Stairway to Heaven”

Finally I lined up at the very back of a 35 pack race in the Elite Cyclocross division. Matt who I met at the training session a week before lined up next to me and said hi. We joked about just finishing but I really had no idea of what was before me. The start bell went and all you could hear was the clacking if cleats and chirps of garmins. The dash up the first short hill was fine but the concertina into the first sharp bend took some work. A female rider was along side me all through these 180 degree turns before finally getting the better of me. After this was a short downhill with a sharp fast right hander into Newcastle velodrome. As we entered the velodrome the leaders were already exiting! I tucked in behind Matt and aimed to stick with him through the race. We exited the velodorme and headed through the tree section, down and around before attempting what the lead riders had deemed “the shortcut” around one of the trees. I stuck with it for the first few laps but kept getting caught up in my cleats. After this came the hardest part of the course. The aptly named “Stairway to heaven” 4 telegraph poles laid out up a step section of hill to form unridable stairs. This is really the first time you need to shoulder your bike. Run up the stairs around the top, down the hill, around a bike tree and back on the bike before returning to the crit course. A slight deviation up a steep hill with a 180 degree turn at the top before trying to control you descent back down to the crit course. This then gives you about 100 meters of tar to regroup, get a drink before going up a fast and steep embankment, down the other side then leaving the velo grounds. Into the park lands for what is effectively a 100m dash up and back on the grass. However its never that simple in cross right. Halfway along the out section was 2 x 400mm barriers. This is where the running dismount came into effect. Its an amazing hard on you body to run and hurdle whilst essentially throwing your bike into the air, land the do it again! Once back in the grounds of the velo was 2 of the shortest but steepes sections on the track. I, as most riders, chose to dismount and run up and down both parts. (I did attempt to ride up it later in the day but well fell off at the top, much to the amusement of other riders. From here it was a remount and a short dash to the start/finish before another 180 degree turn and back past the pit area up that first hill. Be the end of lap 1 my heart rate was over 180. This is basically where it stayed. I tried to set pace behind Matt where I could. Coming from the back I got to 28th position and felt that I was making slow inroads on catching Matt. Heading towards the commentary hill was sleeper buried in the ground. Most riders including me had been riding over it all day. I continued on in this fashion hitting it hard due the massive amount of speed i had coming of the last down hill section. Up around the tree before I noticed I was about to be lapped again. (I was lapped by the leaders by the start of lap 3) as we went over one of the hills i looked back to see where they were. As I did i saw that my rear tyre was now flat. It was halfway through lap 5. I returned to the pit area with the intention of retiring. Disappointed I did not get to finish but kind of relived as i was shattered, but no it was not meat to be. A kind hearted person in the pits found a spare tyre with the right disc and cassette on it. It even had air in the tyre so it was a sight better then mine. We bolted in the new unit and I was back out into the race. Desperately trying to claw back the places I had lost. By the last lap those stairs seemed huge, my legs were burning and I could barley breath. Determined I pushed on and crossed the line. 30/35. I didn’t come last and had a great time. I went back to the family, sat down and tried not to vomit for the next ten minutes before borrowing my daughters bike so that Connor and I could do some warm down laps before we headed home. Exhausted but what a way to spend your 36th birthday.

Dismount about to go up the stairs
Dismount about to go up the stairs

And did the vegan diet make a difference? I don’t know is probably the short answer. I finished the race which I am proud of. I did not eat a great deal and probably could of fulled better. I did not feel heavy and gluggy. I have raced my bike before and had an upset stomach. Being that I have a cold/flu I don’t feel its fair to look at performance. Being on a vegan diet for the last 2 weeks and succeeding at finished would say to me that there is no obvious performance deficits in being a vegan athlete.

Day 11 The Vegan Experiment: Visitors and pumpkin soup

One of the things I have found fascinating about this experiment is the social reactions you get from people. So far its been very rare that I get a positive or interested response. Most people seem to screw up their ace and say “Why?” like i have just told them I had sold everything I owned and was running away to join the circus. It does intrigue me that people can feel so strongly about something they don’t understand, but really what is it to understand. We all can eat right? Everybody has things that they like and dislike. For years I didn’t like mushrooms, why would I care that somebody else does. My wife loves them and I would happily cook them for her. (I eat them now thanks to this experiment which makes her happy as :)) Some of my family came to visit this weekend and my wonderful step mother makes the best pumpkin soup. However she does make it with chicken stock. My wife asked if she could look at making it on vegetable stock instead which she agreed, however during a potato related crisis a visit to the grocery store was in order. It was there she bought a vegan friendly chicken stock. Basically its maize, onion and a couple of other spices to give the flavour of the chicken stock but without any chicken!. Works well and tasted great. I now have lots of leftovers in the fridge.

Day 10 The Vegan Experiment. Almond Butter

Still have cold and feel like crap. Ended up coming home from work and sleeping. Not very exciting I know. Whilst in the kitchen I thought I would make some Almond Butter with the almonds i got a few days ago. Its something that is called for in recipes and I have not been able to find it. Turns out its pretty easy to make , it just took and hour of my time at the food processor and ended up with 450g of the stuff. Tastes good on bread!959874709106170087_1777533

Day 9 The Vegan Experiment. #cracking

Well it felt like it. I seem to have caught a cold and feel like crap. I had to go to the local super market to get some items for dinner and there was a few moments where I thought I will just eat it. Seriously, contains traces of xxx…. But no I persisted with it got home eat pretty much the same thing as I have for the last 3 nights, had a shower then slept for 11.5 hours.

Ok we have bread but its a process. Might just see if I can get a bread-maker…. However I can now tick off “Make bread by hand” from the list.

Connor and i headed out to do some Cyclocross practice.

Nothing more to see here move along.

Day 8 The Vegan Experiment A week in recap

Day 8 One week in, so what have we learnt so far?

Weight has stayed the same
Pretty sure soy gives me wind
Don’t seem as tired in the afternoon
I feel “lighter”
Pooing is a bit different
Static Bike has shown no decline but I need to do more testing
People feel entitled to give you their opinion on why your vegan

Food is good and tasty but takes some prepwork
One of the most interesting I discovered was about my Carbs/Protein/Fats mix. The goal I was looking for was 70/15/15 (Based on the data from No Meat Athlete interview with Robert Cheeke) Up till this point my goal had been 50 /20/30 (Carb/Pro/Fat). My average for the baseline data was 60/20/20. The first week my carbs had tayed similar but my proteins had reduced and my fats increased. On analysis of the data it look as though this increase had been through consumption of Mono-saturated and polyunsaturated fats. Both coming on days when I had consumed a lot of nuts/trail mix.  
However I am feeling a bit flat today, late night cooking bread and a sudden cold change seemed to have taken its toll. Symptoms are very cold like. I have picked up some multivitamins with B12 and Iron so it should cover anything I’m short for the moment.

Day 7 the vegan experiment. Doh!

IMG_20150408_080841Back to work today after the 4 day break.

Toast for breakfast and lunch was pretty much the same thing. I’m wondering if soy gives me wind…
My wife suggested we have a Vegan meatloaf for dinner, but we got home late and I was missing one ingredient that I needed. This left me in a dilemma of trying to figure out what to have. I had also been to the gym tonight and to be honest was exhausted. My ride yesterday had zapped any strength that I had. I spent the day eating as much as I could but still seemed lacking. I did the best I could at the gym and went home to find some food. However we need to to stop at the grocery store and there was no bread. Well I will make it i thought. How hard could it be, I mean I have been nailing this vegan stuff so far.

Attempt 1 was a fail. didn’t add quite enough water and ended up with a big glupy mess. Attempt 2 went much better and Connor decided to help me out. He was so excited when the alarm went off for the bread to finish rising. The bread itself turned out nice, however it was a little dense. Not sure if it was the recipe or my skills at making it by hand. I’m taking it as a win and it will be tomorrows breakfast and probably lunch.

Yesterday I mentioned about how good the fos talking to stated “If you put as much effort  into cooking non vegan food it would be just as good” Fair point. However two things. So far being vegan I have been forced to cook in certain ways, other wise I would have nothing. In the past I would have cheated and eaten something easy, or bought something ready made. Secondly I find the vegan cooking actually pretty straight forward and I have always struggled to cook meat well. So far I’m loving the food and I’m full. Anyway off to eat hot bread.

Day 6 The Vegan experiment or how I beat the dark tower

Gran Fond0 4 2015


So you may remember in September I made an attempt to ride up Mt Sugarloaf near Newcastle. That day it beat me. So after months of hill climbing and repeats, today was the day to take it on again. Now going back to my vegan experiment, this was the first endurance ride I had undertaken since I started. For a normal 130k ride I would take 2-3 muesli bars, 2 bananas and we would often stop for coffee or lunch. Today It was just some Banana/Date energy bars and a banana. 
The ride itself was epic, having fuelled up with oats, cranberries and almond milk for breakfast the charge was on and we tackled sugarloaf first. Arriving at the meeting point I managed to drop and break my riding sunglasses then my Garmin Edge 500 decided it would not boot up correctly. Some quick googling and holding down 3 buttons at the same time seemed to fix it but cost 15 minutes getting it sorted. This followed by my insistence of getting pair of servo sunnies put us behind about 30 minutes on the eta. 
As a side note, the first round of the Newcastle Cyclocross series is starting this weekend and I decided to challenge myself to take the Avanti Giro AR2 out for this ride. I had it setup by my LBS and wanted to get some Km in the saddle to get used to the changes. Big tires will make the trip comfy but it’s not the fastest bike on the flats.
This first leg of our day was the toughest. We had decided to hit Sugarloaf first whilst the legs where freshest. The full climb from the start point is a Cat 3 climb. The road winds its way up through a little town before turning off the left and proceeding along the ridge line. This is where its starts to get tough. Last time we both pushed hard through this first section which I have no doubt hurt our initial attempt. This is reflected in the strava segments which shows my second best time through the first section be nearly a full minute. I just stuck here with Jye and focused on keeping my breathing steady. I was going to beat this hill. The incline started to pick up, Jye was already down to his lowest gear, I stood up to try and keep my rhythm going. We turned the corner and the hill that had beat me stood in front, taunting me again. This time I knew what was coming. I kept my pace, remembered my training and focused. It hurt and at this point Jye had started zig zagging up the road to try and minimize the incline. I made the corner where I had failed last time, HR 181, thats good it was 185 last time. I continued up the incline, legs burning. I spotted a sign up the road and kept that in my mind for a focus point, head down, push, rinse repeat. The sign came closer. I had to sit, pushed it back to my lowest gear, tired but getting there. The road eased of slightly here and actually felt like I was going to make it. Past the sign. Now its just a push through the fatigue. The last section of the road is almost as steep but the major part of the incline is on the left hand switch back. Once again, stand up, head down, drive home. Last push for 50m and I was in the top car park! I stopped for a selfie with the tower in the background and you can see I’m struggling for breath. 16:16 Minutes for the climb, 29:49 for my last attempt. Exactly 1:30 later Jye came up behind me. He too had made the climb in one go. An exhausted vague hi five was given. What a long way we had come from a few months ago.
Whilst Jye stopped to get his breath back  I made the final ascent with my Avanti to the top of the 412m that is Mt Sugarloaf. The view from here was unreal and I could even make out my suburb down the coastline. Stopping for another picture then down the hill we go. I was hesitant last time going down this hill and was again this time. The one short coming of the Giro AR2 is tis mechanical disc brakes. They actually work well in the cyclocross environment and slow speed stuff but put them under hard load and the front especially started to jitter and shudder quite hard. We made our way down with Jye in the lead and in a tuck almost straight away, gaining momentum quickly. I looked down and my speed said 70.2kph and Jye was pulling away from me! I made the mistake of saying hi to another rider who was going up and almost missed the left hand corner. By the time we got down to the exit he had probably 200m over me in distance. On later inspection of the data it said we hit 92kph (however I personally doubt that eek)
We had now covered 12 out of the planned 130k, not even 10% and I was cactus. We set out onto the Hunter expressway to loop to Kurri Kurri and back. We went from an average of 12kph for the first hour to 40kph for the second. This is where it was evident that my day on this bike was going to be hard work. On the flat trying to keep up was hard work, even in the slipstream I had to peddle quite hard to maintain the speed and just did not get a reprieve. On the long slight inclined hills I lagged however the moment we hit anything above 5% I was able to walk up with ease compared to the others.
We got the tail wind back after being fueled by half a banana. We found Drew lurking on a street corner and made our way through Fletcher on towards Newcastle. The foreshore itself runs forever and comprises everything from ships to boats, to well, just polluted water. The area itself was really busy and we made a quick stop at Nobbys before heading over to my favorite little coffee shop at the ocean bathes. This was a little over the halfway point and my legs were really starting to hurt. Actually it was some of the “best” fatigue I had felt riding. The trip up Sugarloaf seemed to really push everything to its max. The coffee was good and I took the opportunity to eat some of the Banana & date energy bar that I had brought. I shared it with my fellow riders, Drew quickly asking if it was vegan. No complaints about the food 🙂 Jye took the opportunity to point out how good the bacon smelt and I must agree it did smell good.
The break did some good but we needed to keep going. From here we went along the Newcastle board walk and meet up with the King Edward Park Hill climb. I love this climb, its short and tough. Jye dropped his chain as Drew and I set off. Stand and push. By the time I got the to pinch (23%) I put it in low gear and pushed hard, my back wheel bounced high and hard as whatever was lodged in there flew out at a rapid speed. Had a great run up and mentally after this morning this seemed pretty straight forward. Took 20 seconds of my PR but most of this seemed to lay in the middle flat section which I was able to put more speed down.
We regrouped at the top and made our way down to Merewather then up the scenic Drive climb, past Glenrock then onto Fernliegh Track. We wandered down till the end and this is when I started to feel it all catch up with me. I’m putting it down to a lack of food as opposed to the vegan diet. Normally I would eat more during this ride but today I had not. The hard thing came in that I could not just duck into a service station and buy anything to eat. Luckily for me there was a supermarket not too far off our path and I stopped in to purchase a round of bananas for us all and a bag of trail mix. With this on board the energy soon returned and Jye decided we should do a few more hills in a detour through Warners bay. This was hard work, whilst not as hard as Sugarloaf we now had 120k under our belts and the temp had climbed to 33c. The hills dragged and dragged but in the end we both made it to the top before some quick descending to pick Drew back up at the bottom.
From here it was a meander along the lake edge and back to the starting point. The trip home in the car proved long as I had forgotten about the Easter traffic returning from holidays. Not to worry I had several bananas and a bag of trail mix to keep me company. Well I did for a short while.
Getting home I had to go back out again and I felt fatigued. I wanted to sleep standing up. Between the bike, the climb and the food I made pretty much shattered myself. The strava suffer score was 201 which is my biggest to date and first time I have cracked the 200’s. I was asleep by 9pm and pretty sure I didn’t move for the entire night.



The elevation profile for the ride
The elevation profile for the ride


Day 5 The Vegan Experiment

Day 5 of The Vegan Experiment. Todays the first day I was over the breakfast and felt like bacon and eggs. Not so much the meat but the salty aspect was what I seem to craved. Made some berry porridge. That sucked, Started again, made some vegan pancakes, tasted ok but ironically too salty (too much bicarb in the recipe IMO). Maple syrup was good though 🙂

We ended up having to duck out and I decided to make some bread. However a detour on my wife suggestion to a local fruit and veg store yielded quite a surprise and I was able to get some black beans which I have been searching for. Now this kind of breaks a rule in that it did not come from a major shop but it was next door in a major shopping centre so I figure it counts.

2015-04-05 13.24.40

On a personal leave this is the most tired I have felt. Don’t get me wrong the food is great and I feel physically the best I have in a long time. Just tired, I’m mostly just putting it down to late night to bed and early up cause the Easter came and made a mess in my home and the kids decided 5am was a good time to clean it up.

On that note its the first year I have not received a giant kinder egg from my wife. I’m so grateful that she respects this vegan experiment for me and did not get one. To be honest it kind of feels like a relief to not feel obliged to each chocolate just because its sitting the fridge. For the sake of the argument I did sample some white vegan chocolate. Can’t say I’m a huge fan but I was not really a big chocolate eater to start with. Didn’t end up getting the bread done but did make some marinated tofu (lime and chilli), baked tomato filled with mushroom, tomato and garlic. All with a side of some thin baked cinnamon sweet potato. Ate mine and then helped my wife finish her plate. I will say one thing for this food, I’m not going hungry and have found I seem to want to snack less.

Vanilla & Strawberry Vegan Cupcakes

Vanilla & Strawberry Vegan Cupcakes
Vanilla & Strawberry Vegan Cupcakes

My daughter wanted to make cupcakes so basically I did as I was told and we set off to do just that. Sticking with my Vegan experiment we went hunting. She insisted on strawberry ones so this was the compromise. I later posted the image to the blog and to instagram and was soon asked for the recipe for Vegan Vanilla & Strawberry Cupcakes.



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