Pál has run two 220km ultramarathon relay races as a vegan

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Pál and I have a YouTube channel called Conscientious Omnivore.  I make videos about veganism, gardening, ethics, recipes, health and related topics.  You can find me on YouTube: Conscientious Omnivore and on Twitter: COmnivore.

How long have you been eating plant based foods and what made you get into plant foods?

I’ve been vegan over 3.5 years and originally, I started researching the health aspect of eating only plant foods because my son stopped eating meat altogether when he was around 2 years old.  My wife and I were concerned that he would end up being deficient in something and be unhealthy as a result.  The more I researched though, the more I found that not only did it seem possible to be healthy, it seemed like it was actually healthier to avoid eating animal products.  After seeing videos about the cruelty inherent in dairy and egg production, I made an ethical decision to try a vegan diet for myself.

After only 3–4 weeks, I felt amazing and decided to stay on a whole food plant based diet.  I also educated myself about more ways that we exploit animals and understood the deeper meaning of veganism.  My wife and two children have been vegan since then as well.

Pál after taking part in a 220km ultramarathon
Pál after completing a 220km ultramarathon race. He did 110km—wow!

Do you like making food and what are your favourite foods?

I absolutely love to eat and so I love to cook.  My mother always said if you like to eat, you should love to cook, and you should also like doing the dishes because these all go hand in hand!  I have so many “favorite” foods that it would not really be possible to list them all.  One of my favorite sweet foods is a traditional Hungarian meal called “szilvás gomboc” (a potato dumpling with a plum inside) - it just so happens to be vegan by default.  I loved oven roasted veggies and potatoes.  Oatmeal and any kind of soup with barley in it are other favorites.

Describe your day with plant foods.

I would say my most typical day of eating starts with a big bowl of oatmeal, fruits (banana, apple, berries, etc), flax & chia seeds and sometimes some type of nut or other seeds sprinkled on (walnuts, sunflower, etc).  I tend to snack on fruits throughout the day and try to eat whatever is seasonal.  Lunch tends to be the biggest meal of the day for me and it’s usually some kind of soup/stew and main course.  I love legumes, oven roasted veggies, pasta dishes and potatoes in just about any fashion (boiled, baked, casseroled, etc).  One of my favorite suppers is a hearty salad with homemade bread.  Hummus is also another personal favorite and can work for any meal of the day.

I am quite active and find that eating whole food plants really helps to fuel me for the day without the food coma feeling that I used to experience when I was eating animal products.  I especially notice a big difference during my running.  I no longer have any indigestion and can go on the longest of runs immediately after eating and be totally fine.  I could never dream of doing that when I was eating meat.

What’s your favourite kitchen tool/gadget?

I would say two things actually.  One is our stick blender because I use it often for making peanut butter, tahini, nice cream, sauces, etc.  The other is our coffee grinder.  Even though we don’t actually drink coffee, it works perfectly for grinding things like oats, chick peas, buckwheat, flax seeds, etc.

What one food could you not live without and which food do you miss the most since switching to plant based foods?

I eat a huge variety of food and I love everything but I think I would REALLY miss potatoes if I could never eat them again.  I actually don’t miss anything that I used to eat.  Over the years, my wife and I have found a substitute for just about everything we enjoyed as omnivores and I really couldn’t imagine ever going back to eating animals.  I simply do not view them as food options anymore - plants are food, animals are friends.

What do you consider the most important foods in your diet and why?

For sheer calories, I would say potatoes and grains are really important and make up a fair bit of my diet.  I eat a lot of fruit and veggies too and I think these are really important for vitamins and nutrients.  Also, the fruits make me happy and I think of them as a dessert because they are so sweet.  I don’t worry about getting a specific macro-nutrient split, so I eat legumes because I like them, not because I’m worried about getting protein.

Would you say your look and feel more healthy?

Absolutely!  Eating this way is the best thing I’ve ever done for my health and well-being.  Luckily, I never had any health problems but after going vegan, I experienced several benefits.  My eyesight improved, my cholesterol was cut in almost half, and my sexual performance noticeably improved as well.  My recovery time after intense exercise was significantly reduced as well.

How has eating plant foods changed you?

My whole world view was changed after switching to a plant foods diet.  I learned that we do not need to exploit animals in order to be happy and healthy.  This realization has helped me to see more clearly the ways in which people exploit other people as well.  My compassion for all beings has grown as a result and I feel an intense drive to leave a positive mark on the world - both for people and non-human animals.

My journey to veganism has also helped me to appreciate the growing of food in a way which I never thought possible.  I was a casual fan of gardening previously but now, it’s a huge part of my life and I think there is no task more noble than growing food for our loved ones.  I am learning how to produce abundant harvests with veganic methods that harm insects and small animals as little as possible.

I believe a switch to small scale, veganic farming can be an important step to reducing our negative impact on the earth and it’s easy for people to start in their own backyards.  This is a large part of the message I promote on my youtube channel.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about getting into plant based foods?

Get educated on nutrition.  Ensure you are getting enough Vitamin B12 (either through fortified foods or a supplement).  Eat a variety of whole food plants but have fun every once in a while and eat some vegan junk food if it makes you happy.  You can find all your favorite foods in a vegan option now so there’s no reason a sentient being needs to suffer for your taste pleasure.  Learn to cook if you don’t know how.  You will save a ton of money, eat healthier and have way more fun.

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