You’ve probably trained with Shab by now. Super strong, super muscular + built for impact as part of an American Football team. So you might be surprised to know he eats a plant-based diet. We caught up with him to find out why he steers clear of animal produce + why he hates the term vegan.
So Shab, how long have you followed a plant-based diet for now?
It’s been about six months – but I did it gradually. I’d been brought up not eating meat so it wasn’t that big of a change.
What prompted you to cut out dairy?
I believe a natural diet is best for your health – the fewer processed foods, the better. Eating plants is purer and your overall diet tends to be simpler. I like to try new things and see how they feel and for me, a plant-based diet really works.
Has it affected your training?
At first, when I went back to training after the switch my strength was low – but that’s because I hadn’t been eating correctly overall. Once I got back into the rhythm, it was all fine. You can be unhealthy or healthy on any food intake – whether you’re eating meat or eating plants. Once your nutrition is in check, training follows.
What foods would you recommend for someone who wants to keep their protein intake high but eat plant-based?
Nuts – I snack on them all the time and they’re great for when you’re on-the-go after training. And they taste good. My favourite are almonds.
Do you still have any guilty pleasures?
Of course – people forget that a plant-based diet still allows for a lot of bad food, so you can’t just assume because it’s plant-based it’s healthy. I still have a weakness for crisps. But everything in moderation.
So what’s your issue with the term vegan?
I don’t like calling myself a vegan. ‘Vegan’ sounds like more of a lifestyle. I just try to eat right and keep my body’s alkaline levels up.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying a plant-based diet?
I’d say go for it! You never know how your body responds to things until you’ve given it a good go. I find it’s helped me with my self control and willingness to cut out the unhealthy snacks – you’re just more conscious about what you eat.
Finally, the question everyone asks ... do you miss cheese?
Not particularly, but I do really miss seafood - especially prawns. Cheese I can do without, and before you ask bacon doesn't bother me either, I've never eaten meat anyway!
You can train with Shab on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in Southwark.