Why the paleo diet lacks compassion and screws the planet

Bananas for low carbon high energy food

Bananas for low carbon high energy food

This blog isn’t going to make everyone love me but that isn’t the point. This blog is about what I strongly believe and I am not in the business of telling people what they want to hear just to make them feel good about themselves.

I have been feeling really bugged by the Paleo diet. I know, no surprise a vegan hates the worlds cruellest diet.

The Paleo diet is commonly known as the caveman diet and encourages a high fat diet, high protein diet primarily comprised of meat and vegetables, no sugar and low in carbohydrates.

So, why are people obsessed with a diet which saturates your body in fat? Fucks the planet, actively encourages slaughter and consumption of a vast quantity of animals? This diet is currently pushed by a few overweight non athletic people making a fortune telling people what they want to hear. It has been adopted by the Crossfit community and pushed as the way to get optimum athletic results. Crossfit is hugely popular but it has been linked to causing dangerous muscle damage conditions such as rhabdomyolysis.

The large guy on the right looks like the right person to be given nutrition advice.

The large guy on the right looks like the right person to be given nutrition advice.

The paleo diet will tell you that you know those millions of animals slaughtered every day well that is because god wanted that. This is a quote off a Crossfit gym near my flat in London which pushes the diet. Honestly WTF: ” This is not a lifestyle for a vegetarian. Paleo works on the idea that “if God didn’t want us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.”

Shit! Obviously that evolution theory thing skipped the people at this crossfit gym. I suppose if god didn’t want us to eat fruit he wouldn’t have made them out of fruit. Yeah, right that makes sense. Really, really? Is that best justification for a diet which encourages increased slaughter of animals and damages the planet.

We live in a world which is being ravaged by climate change, in the past 2 weeks, The Phillipines, Italy and Somalia have been hit by cyclones. We have record levels of carbon in the atmosphere 400 parts per million. Just last month the worlds leading climate scientists (IPCC) have published a report saying we are heading for 4 degrees increase in pre industrial world temperatures by the end of the century. I was at a conference last week about the Chagos archipelago (the worlds biggest no take marine conservation area) and every scientist who stood up to talk about the reef talked about the threats posed by climate change to our oceans and marine ecosystem.

We live in a world where we need to drastically reassess the way we treat animals and are in urgent need of cutting our global carbon emissions. Livestock farming and the meat industry currently accounts for roughly 1/5 of global carbon emissions.

Let me be clear. Eating meat doesn’t make you a bad person, we all have to make our own choices and some of the most wonderful people I have ever met eat meat. I still love them. But it does significantly increase your carbon footprint as an individual, carbon emissions from livestock farming a major contributor to climate change.

Dr John McDougall talks about how a high starch vegan diet heals his patients health:

Personally I want to eat a diet that enables me to have a low carbon footprint, not harm animals and be a good steward of the planet.

I also want to thrive athletically, I just need to look at people like Scott Jurek, Tim Van Orden, Rich Roll, Durian Rider, Brendan Brazier, Peter Siddle, Mac Danzig, for vegan athletic inspiration.

UFC fighter and Raw Vegan Mac Danzig

UFC fighter and Raw Vegan Mac Danzig

I feel a large part of running is about how we feel inside. Scott Jurek didn’t win the The Great Western States 100 mile race 7-times feeling guilty. A vegan diet enabled him to perform and recover better than ever before, I am sure knowing his diet meant he was treading lightly on the earth enabled him to run fast and become one of the greatest ultra marathon runners ever.

As a planet we’re facing a global heart disease and obesity crisis, 23% of people in the UK are now obese. Just turn on your TV what do you see? Meat everywhere, dripping with fat and cheap junk food. We have thrived off fruit since humans evolved that is what we’re meant to eat not our companions on earth animals. We didn’t all start getting fat in the west when we started eating fruit this only happened when we became rich nations and had access to junk food and cheap meat.

We all have to make our own choices but in my eyes a high carb, low fat vegan diet rich in fruit and veggies is the one which will help you stay healthy and happy and protect the planet for future generations. We have the power to make positive choices like going vegan. Just because something has always been a certain way it doesn’t mean it needs to stay like that the world changes. I just hope the fitness world wakes up and dismisses this dangerous, cruel paleo diet soon.

Check out Durian Rider exposing some paleo myths below:

What has running taught me?

Eat and Run

When I first went for a run in February it had been 2 and half years since my only half marathon a lumbering 2:17 at the Royal Parks Half. I was fed up of feeling unfit it was a bright winters day and my trainers were calling me. I huffed and I puffed and I certainly wasn’t blowing any houses down. But I kept at it, I went for a few runs with my friend Lauren and then after about a month of slow running I started going to GoodGym and slowly but surely the running got easier. I was enjoying it.

Despite a injury hiccup which was a great learning experience thanks to some first class physio my progress as a runner has been swift. I have started racing and although my overall placings are amazing as of yet I am in the top 25% of runners in all my races so far. 

My running journey has taught me a lot about myself a person, my body and how I can get the most from it. I truly believe switching from a vegetarian to a vegan diet has I believe been a key element in enabling me to ramp up my training, improve my pace and stay injury free. 

So what has running taught me?

1) I like a little moan early into my runs: I am either too tired, I feel stiff, its the wind, I feel to cold, I got my layering wrong. There is always something bugging me, generally I start enjoying my runs at around mile 3. Which if it is a 5k means I enjoy roughly the last 200 metres.

2) I am still a competitive person: I used to play lots of football and cricket but in general life, work, business, status,  I don’t consider myself competitive. But put me in a race and from the moment I get the starting line, I want to do the best I can possibly do and get as close to winning as possible.

3) Every run teaches you something: Whether you learn about your body or what is going on inside your head or your surroundings. It is the sport of natures voyeurs you always can spy something interesting happening in the nature around you.

4) I am a geek: I knew this but running has definitely reaffirmed this. I am growingly obsessed with split times and I have become very concerned with how training and my diet can squeeze extra %’s out of my running potential.

5) Running is social: I always thought of running as a solitary activity but being part of GoodGym, taking part in races and writing this blog has connected me with so many interesting people. I am making new running friends every week, their stories and training always inspires me.

6) Vegan for the win: Well the 17th place in my case currently. Anyway following a high carbohydrate low fat vegan diet has helped me lose a few extra pounds I was carrying and enabled me to recover remarkably well. I am continuing to stay injury free and improve my speed.

7) The staff in Sweatshop know nothing: If you want some decent running advice seek out ‘Runners Needs’, both the staff in the shops in Moorgate or Aldgate know their stuff.

8) A huge part of running is in the head: During a race I skip through so many scenarios from what happens if I can’t run up that hill, I panic about tripping people up, I doubt I can even get around the course. Then finally comes acceptance at around mile 3 that I am doing pretty well and this is great fun. I am still a nervy sports person, I always was when I was younger and I still take awhile to calm down.

9) I am rubbish at following training plans: I have looked at so many plans, different interval sessions, fartleks etc, I still haven’t managed to many focused sessions. My options generally are run fast or take it easy and keep things consistent. I know to progress I need to change this but for now I am happy listening to my body and just going with the flow.

10) Do what works for you: I am guilty of giving my point of view but what works for different people will be different. There is so much contradictory advice. So listen to people try things out but you can’t follow everyones advice. Just rock your own path is my advice.

As Scott Jurek wrote when I met him in October ‘You know the path follow it!”.

PB’s

5k 21:04 Hackney Marsh ParkRun

10K 47:31 Greenwich Park 10k

Follow me on Twitter @damienclarkson

Hackney GoodGym go to Parkrun

Hackney Marsh ParkRun

Hackney Marsh ParkRun

It was a crisp but beautiful Winter morning which was for the setting of my latest Hackney Marsh ParkRun. I had only previously ran one ParkRun 7 weeks earlier and recorded a time of 22:12. This week I cycled along to the race with a bunch of friends from Hackney GoodGym (Aimee, Lauren, Phil and Shaun).

Running has been great for expanding my social circle and I have found the organisers/volunteers of all of the races I attend brilliant and friendly. It really is a great way to get to know people living active healthy lives in your area.

I was definitely attending this weeks race expecting to run a PB. I decided that my tactics would be to start fast and hang in there. I haven’t really been running 5K’s in the past 6 weeks with training being more geared towards the 10K races of the previous couple of weeks and my upcoming half marathon. Therefore I wasn’t confident of being able to consistently put down 7 minute miles.

ParkRun Splits

ParkRun Splits

The pace at the start of the race was blistering I wasn’t surprised when I peaked at my Garmin to see my 1 mile split was 6:30. The cold air was tearing through my lungs and my legs felt heavy; the fear had set in at this point. All sorts of crazy notions flashed into my head, including getting overtaken by everyone and dropping out. Race confidence is definitely something I need to work on.

Anyway that didn’t happen and despite a slight dropping in my pace I was still able to put in some fairly decent miles and end up with a PB of 21:04 with a placing on 17th and knocking 1:08 off my previous 5K PB. I finished with a strong sprint going past two other runners and was slightly aggrieved to not have gone under 21:00 minutes but I am confident of doing this in the not too distant future.

ParkRun results

My GoodGym friends and I had a fun time and I think ParkRuns are going to become a more regular fixture in our running diaries.

Lauren (on the right) goes head to head with another runner

Lauren (on the right) goes head to head with another runner

Afterwards Aimee and I went for breakfast, I had some tasty avocado on sourdough bread and decaff coffee. All in all it was the perfect way to start the day.

Aimee gliding along

Aimee gliding along

Did you run a ParkRun this weekend? If so, how did you get on? Leave your comments below.

Until the next time…

Damien x

The Runners

Matan Rochlitz and Ivo Gormley on their filming equipment

Matan Rochlitz and Ivo Gormley on their filming equipment

What do you think about whilst you are running?

I am sure many of you reading this are honestly not sure. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited to a screening of a new short film called ‘The Runners‘. The film is made by social entrepreneur and GoodGym founder Ivo Gormley who I have been lucky to get to know this year and his friend Matan.

To create the film over the course of a year they cycled around Victoria Park in London dragging a trailer with a camera and one of them onboard. They proceeded to ask runners a whole variety of questions about their lives, why they run and what they are thinking about?

Many of us do the majority of our running on our own, once you start cranking up the milage that makes for a lot of time spent in our heads. For me I often think about the people I haven’t spoken to in a long while and start making lists in my head about what I need to do. Sometimes I just get lost in the beauty of my surroundings and I honestly don’t think about anything else. Sometimes I play out my problems in my head and when I get home I just know what I need to do. For me running is an insight into an area of my subconscious otherwise inaccessible for me. All the noise stops, whether the wind is blowing or the rain is pouring it doesn’t matter, I can just chill.

The film really made for a revealing insight into the minds of runners. Afterwards the 150 strong were treated to q&a with Greg one of the runners in the film Martin Yelling former triathlete and Marathon Talk podcast host and ‘Run Like a Girl’ author Alexandra Heminsley and the filmmakers Ivo and Matan.

The film is only 10 minutes long and free to watch. It features today on the Guardian’s running blog. Watch it I promise you will enjoy it. And perhaps the next time you lace up you will think a little bit more about what is going on in your head.

Running like a dog for 10.68 miles

This was the sunset as we were running around Hackney Marsh

This was the sunset as we were running around Hackney Marsh

After the brutal hills of my 10k race on Sunday, my glutes felt a bit trashed. So in the sprit of listening to my body I took it easy for the early part of this week, instead getting my exercise on a number of bike rides into central London.

But with my half marathon quickly approaching, I recognised regardless of soreness I needed to get out there and put in some quality miles. Luckily I have a new running buddy in the shape of Clare who I met through our mutual friend Helen. With a marathon time of 3:30 behind her running with Clare is great for my training, we have loads in common and the minutes fly by.

Excitingly yesterday she brought along her beautiful 9 month Collie, Watson to join us on the run. Early on Watson was definitely setting the pace. We ran up to our Walthamstow and Hackney marshes. Watching Watson boundless energy was inspiring, he was in and out of the river, puddles, grabbing sticks, playing with other dogs. Basically he was having a brilliant time.

Watson

All whilst I was being a little bit of a moaner for the first few miles; I had cycled about 8 miles already yesterday and had been to a great social enterprise event at lunchtime. However at the event there was no vegan food apart from the obligatory plate of fruit. Now I had a choice and did the polite English thing and grabbed a selection of fruit. Basically I needed double what I took to get sufficient carbs in but I didn’t want to be a fruit hog. So after my cycle home I felt a little under carbed and had to eat a piece of bread and low fat hummus 30 mins before the run. Not ideal but after a bit of a food and water I felt near where I needed to be. 

Once we got into Hackney Marsh the sun started to set the sky was a beautiful orange and pink. We both couldn’t stop admiring the beautiful views. These are the moments I have come to cherish as a runner. On every run I see something beautiful or something of interest, I learn more about the area in which I live in. If I was inside I was miss all of the interesting stuff happening around me.

By the time I was into the 4th mile I was starting to feel strong, we decided to run back on ourselves across the endless football pitches. I felt I got found out for my lack of soft surface training at the Bushy Park 10K a few weeks ago. I always find my pace drops on soft surfaces but I am finding it increasingly important to mix up. We then decided to head off down Regents Canal towards Victoria Park, my initial plan was to run with Clare for a bit then turn back and run home. But as I said to Clare I felt I was getting a second wind. This had the makings of a long run in it. So I decided to just keep running I left Clare and Watson at Victoria Park and made my way home.

Whilst running through the park I had a teenager throw a few stones. Which I felt was particularly brave of him only being in his hoody and standing behind steel fence. He must have felt particularly proud when despite me not evening saying anything to him he started screaming and swearing at me. Honestly you just have to smile, what a pathetic existence he is leading if that is how he gets his kicks.

I reached the end of the park and realised it was closed which was a bit of a lesson really, probably not the best idea to run around Victoria Park in the dark. This led to me having to rather gingerly jump the park fence before continuing home.

By this point my splits were again in the 8 minute mile territory again, I wasn’t flying but by no means was I struggling. I arrived home after completing 10:68 miles in 1:33.45. This has filled me with confidence for my half marathon on the 1st December a 1:45 time definitely feels within my reach now.

My 10 mile route

My 10 mile route

I really think having Watson running with us yesterday helped lift my mood and enabled me to get the enthusiasm to make what was meant to be a 8 mile run something much longer.

Have you ever ran with a dog? If so how do you find it?

Until the next time.

Damien x

Run to the hills: Greenwich Park 10K

After the race picture

After the race picture

It is amazing how quickly the mind can conveniently forget about something. Having attended University in Greenwich I was well aware of the steepness of the hills which ran throughout the Royal Park of Greenwich; the venue for my second ever 10k race.

I awoke after hardly any sleep to a crisp morning across London. I ate a banana at 6:30 as soon as I was awake and dashed out the door making my train with 3 seconds to spare. Whilst on route rummaging through my bag I also realised I am starting to become a serious runner. I had packed extra plasters, spare blister plasters, toilet roll and bananas for my post run snack.

I was also excited to be running with two of my best friend Pete and John, I have known both of them since the age of 3. We have literally grown up together, John and I pretty much played all of our football in the same team. We even had supporters in the shape of John’s parents (who I know well) and his girlfriend.

Anyway we arrived far too early and spent sometime hanging around on the bench running through all the anxieties runners have before a race. These mainly concerned our choice of clothing, whether the chip will fall off, even whether we would be capable of finishing. I felt like the wise old hand advising John and Pete (Both doing their first race) to be wary of getting caught up in the inevitable lightening pace start. Which was hilarious as I always fly through the first mile.

Beautiful Greenwich

Beautiful Greenwich

It was truly a beautiful setting for the race and the competition looked fierce. Basically everyone looked pretty serious, anyhow I took Durian Rider’s advice and really chilled out whilst we observed the Remberance Day silence before the race trying not to waste my nervous energy. Then Boom!  We were off. As predicted I flew out the traps, the temperature felt perfect for racing and before I knew it I was flying down the hills. At one of the first marshall points I spotted my friend Hannah who was volunteering marshalling the race. This was totally amazing and gave me a real boost- Hannah also writes a brilliant running blog (Red Head On the Run) which is packed full of great training tips.

Hannah took this picture of me on the second lap of the course

Hannah took this picture of me on the second lap of the course

Descending the steep hills I kept thinking of Paula Radcliffe analysis of how Mo Farah didn’t go hard enough on the hill decent at the Great North Run. I was going to repeat the mistake of Mo as I flew down the hill, I could really feel my glutes working but I felt good. I have been practising balancing with my arms out when running down hill and this really helped me.

The course was a 2 lap affair with the finish at the top of the park. Before today I rated myself as a hill runner which was ridiculous because I leave in Hackney, London which is basically the Belgium of London. However believed a childhood growing up on a hill made me a mountain man. Predictably on the first big hill I got dropped by about 5 people. Thankfully I seemed to improve or other people faded as I didn’t really get overtaken again. In fact I picked off a few people on the hill climbs throughout the race. I was especially delighted with how quickly I recovered from what were short but brutal climbs.

Despite the tough hilly course I was able to record a PB with a time of 47:31 knocking 1:17 off my time at the Bushy Park 10k recorded 3 weeks ago. This placed me 73rd in a field of 293 runners I suppose I squeezed in the top 25% 🙂

Race Splits Greenwich Park 10K

John came through in 1:03:27 and Pete in 1:14:46 a great achievement on their first 10k runs of what hopefully will be many.

Only 3 weeks until the Ashford Half Marathon, I am growing in confidence but need a to throw in 4 or 5 of long runs over the next 2 weeks to make sure I get a time somewhere near my 1:45 target.

How was your weekend running? Please let me know in the comments or via Twitter. And any of your tips for tackling hills would be much appreciated.

Damien x

Running for charities

Have you ever failed to get a ballot place and taken the fundraising plunge and ran for charity close to your heart?

If so, what was your experience like? Did you feel loved and supported by someone with an active interest in running? Or did you feel like just another fundraising statistic.

Please share your experiences both good and bad.

Check out ‘Bow On The Go‘, a project by East London The Bromley By Bow Centre who are offering really interesting support for their runners.