We’ve all heard in the media recently that moving over to a more plant based diet can have numerous health benefits. Over the years we’ve certainly have seen an increase in the variety of vegetarian products now available, making it easier to make that switch and be able to move away from choosing meat products. Athlete Dorothy Liviabella decided to make the switch and has never looked back.
“My journey into sport and a plant based diet started 8 years ago when I entered the London Triathlon to raise money for charity. I had no idea what a Triathlon was but I knew how to ride a bike and figured I could learn how to swim, so thought – what’s the worst that can happen! Eight years later and I am proud to have represented Great Britain in 2 Triathlon World Championships, 3 European Championships and even won a bronze medal in my Age Group. I have managed to work my way up from absolute beginner to standing on the podium in countless triathlons, duathlons and running events over the last 6 years. Although I am getting older, I am getting faster, stronger and have built up an incredible endurance base – so much so, that earlier this year I was the outright female winner in a non-stop 24 hour mountain bike event which involved 161 miles of hilly and technical terrain – all powered by plants. All of this success I could never have imagined 8 years ago when I was on Google, looking up what a triathlon consisted of and realising I needed to buy a bike!
Of course, the training that goes into this, to compete at this level is vitally important and I probably train between 10 and 15 hours a week, but as the quote goes ‘you can’t exercise yourself out of a bad diet’, meaning no matter what kind of exercise programme you follow you need a good diet for ultimate health and well-being. Looking back, if anyone had asked me 8 years ago, I would have said I had a great diet – but compared to my diet now there really is no comparison in terms of nutritional density, macro and micro nutrient intake and the diversity of fruit, vegetables and other plants in my diet. The change in diet from a meat and dairy eater to vegan have contributed enormously to the way I feel both mentally and physically. It has opened up a whole new world of plants, fruits, berries that years ago I may have looked upon as ‘exotic’ but are now every day staples.
My journey to a plant based diet was a gradual one. At first I cut out meat, then fish and lastly dairy and eggs. I have followed a vegan diet / lifestyle for about 3 years now and now advocate this way of living to anyone and everyone. The initial driver was an ethical one (how can I say I love animals and then support an industry that kills them), but in parallel I realised the huge health benefits that came with a plant based diet. As I learnt more about the power of plants (and the potential risks associated with meat and dairy), I was driven to a whole new level of healthy eating.
Typically I start the day with a smoothie for an immediate burst of vitamins, minerals and goodness! It’s such a great way to get a quick and easy fix of vegetables (typically kale, beetroot or spinach), berries, chia seeds, protein powder (pea or hemp protein) and anything else I have or want to add in e.g. goji berries, Incan berries or a medjool date for sweetness. Mealtimes are now dense with vegetables, greens, beans and pulses. I have also started to add turmeric powder to my sports drinks for added anti-inflammatory properties and snacks during the day are things like peppers, carrots, celery and hummus, nuts or a few pieces of dried fruit.
There are so many benefits of a plant based lifestyle – in addition to feeling at peace with myself on an ethical and moral perspective, my weight has reduced due to a noticeable reduction in body fat, I have huge amounts of energy to sustain a very intense training schedule and my immune system must be working well as I hardly ever get so much as a cold!
Having experienced the benefits myself, I was looking at ways to help promote a plant based lifestyle amongst fellow athletes. I was buying my everyday essentials like chia seeds, coconut oil, plant based protein powders etc from Sevenhills Wholefoods and I loved their overall product range and brand so I contacted them to ask how I could promote their great products within my circle of athletes and at events. This lead to me becoming an ambassador which I am incredibly proud and passionate about. As I experiment with new recipes and new products, I feel I can really help others by promoting products that some may never have heard of before, and how they can add both interest, flavour but most importantly nutritional benefits to their diet.
All I can say for anyone who may be transitioning or thinking about making a move to a vegan lifestyle is that nothing tastes better than vegan feels!”