At Oyster, we strongly believe in the benefits of exercise and a healthy lifestyle. This becomes even more important when you work in a stressful environment like recruitment.
Exercise not only benefits our physical health , but also our mental health as it allows us to release stress, sleep better and increase our endorphins (happy hormones). Understanding this, Oyster is constantly trying to find new ways to raise awareness around the importance of exercise and nutrition.
We’ve had summer boot camps, early finishes, late starts, and sunshine days along with many other mood-boosting strategies. Continuing Oyster's path towards healthier living, we brought in Adam Stansbury for an afternoon to talk with the staff about veganism, and its benefits.
Adam is known as the Plant-Powered PT, he specialises in helping men and women get fit, strong, and healthy on a plant-based diet. His mission is to show people how they can transform their bodies and the planet at the same time while busting some dyed-in-the-wool myths in the process.
He began his presentation by elucidating us around some of the reasons he became a vegan PT, starting with his own personal background and career progression. Adam has been using gyms since 1997. He started his career as a model, and the gym was a vital component in ensuring that he maintained the necessary physique to be successful.
In 2005 he was featured on the front of Healthy for Men magazine, and just a month later he was in the hospital due to a severe blockage of his large intestine. He was then diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitus.
From 2006 to 2008 he underwent 4 serious abdominal operations, culminating in having the whole of his large intestine removed and an internal pouch constructed in place of his colon. After each of his operations, he needed to rebuild the muscle mass lost as a result of going under the knife.
"I have never considered that it affects more than your own health. He talked about some interesting facts about making a wider impact. I liked Adams relaxed approach in terms of making small changes or doing it gradually/a few days weekly rather than massive cold turkey change. The reality that the original source of nutrients comes from the plants and the animals are effectively the middle man was a huge reality check + kind of goes against everything you think you know about diet!!!! Definitely making some changes and giving it a go. Not saying I’m going full vegan but found the session very interesting and inciteful."-Carla Chamberlain-
This difficult journey obviously made Adam acutely aware of what he was putting inside his body. However, although he became a Personal Trainer in 2009, it wasn’t until 5 years later that he was able to fully follow his moral compass and embrace a vegan lifestyle. Although always believing the treatment of farmed animals to be unethical, he was as caught up in the myths of fitness and the need for meat to achieve our full potential in the gym, as the rest of us.
However, during his presentation, he was able to fully debunk the idea that we need meat and eggs to get an adequate amount of protein in our diets; explaining that a balanced vegan diet rich in fruit, beans, pulses, plant protein powders, tempeh (fermented soy), tofu and some vegan meat replacement products is more than enough to sustain our body’s need for protein and other nutrients.
"I thought the presentation was very good. I liked how he wasn’t too pushy about being vegan, more based on his experience. I will defo be doing no meat Jan and hopefully will start to do 1 day per week to see what it’s like."-Rob Murray-
He explained that culturally we are caught up in the idea of ‘meat and two veg’, and that most of us will believe that if we remove meat and dairy from our diets, we will have nothing delicious or satisfying left to eat. However, we couldn’t be more wrong. There are whole recipe books available that challenge our normal methods of cooking, showing us how to create traditional dishes without the need for meat and dairy.
Adam was also able to demonstrate many of the health benefits of going vegan, explaining that a vegan diet is naturally anti-inflammatory due to the amount of fresh green vegetables and fruits you will consume.
These are also very high in vitamins and minerals which promote healthy digestion and the immune system. He also talked about how to structure our meals and explained how to make sure we eat enough varied foods to sustain the healthy function of our bodies, most importantly showing us that it is not as hard as it might seem.
"I learned a lot more about the effects of a vegan diet. I liked that he addressed myths like humans being built to only eat vegetables or that we need meat when actually there’s no one food group we can’t process. I thought it was very engaging and informational. I’d consider going vegan full time!"-Herve Kibassa-
Importantly he discussed the disastrous impact industrial farming has on the planet. In September 2018, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) named meat ‘the world’s most urgent problem’, stating ‘Our use of animals as a food-production technology has brought us to the verge of catastrophe.’
Due to population growth in recent years, we have seen an enormous increase in animal farming. Since the 60’s beef production has more than doubled, and chicken farming has increased ten times over. In order to keep these industries running, significant amounts of natural resources are required.
Generally, when we think about climate change and emissions, we often blame transport – cars and planes (especially celebrities who fly around the world in private jets!), however, research shows us that livestock has an even greater impact than transportation sector.
UNEP states that ‘the greenhouse gas footprint of animal agriculture rivals that of every car, truck, bus, ship, airplane, and rocket ship combined.’ According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, ‘Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all transportation emissions combined.’
"Thought it was really good, I learned a lot about nutrition and facts about how mass farming impacts the environment. I’m going to try and do Veganuary but I definitely think it’s a good idea for people to try and commit to at least 1 day a week and see how they go as that’s more realistic."-Ali Wibroe-
Many of the Oyster team who heard Adam speak were shocked at some of these statistics, and the feedback from most of them was that they would definitely consider introducing more vegan ways of living and eating into their diets in the future. Adam suggested starting with being vegan just one day a week or maybe becoming vegetarian, as even this could have a dramatically positive impact on the environment and your own health.
This idea was met with enthusiasm by many of us. We felt that his approach was realistic and not forceful. He really made us aware of the food choices we make, and the global effect we are having with them. After receiving feedback from the team, it would seem like a good percentage of us are now thinking about cutting back on meat, fish, and dairy in 2020 and even taking part in Veganuary 2020. We all really appreciated the detailed information Adam was able to provide about nutrition, health, and the environment.