Name: Richard Watts
Year of Birth: 1982
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions
Hello there, I work at Hillside Animal Sanctuary in West Runton. For years I have also given my time to Robert Cheeke - creating this website, t-shirts, and any other graphics he needs for facebook and so on. I also have my own support page for vegans on facebook. In my spare time I like to play heavy metal music, work out at the gym, punch the Body Opponent Bag, read books and graphic novels, play videos games (especially God Hand, Devil May Cry 3, Hitman: Blood Money, Resident Evil 4, Dead Space 1... in fact there are hundreds of games I have really enjoyed over the years). I also love TV and movies, but I can't list all those. But I will mention Firefly as one of the finest shows ever made, which was ignorantly cancelled by morons!
Why did you become vegan?
I became vegetarian when I was about 5 or 6 when I first realised where meat came from. My mother was sem-vegetarian, but through pestering from my brother and myself, she became fully vegetarian. The idea of hurting or killing animals has always been preposterous to me. Given our intelligence as humans, we have the ability to do so much to benefit the planet, so it sickens me that animals and nature are instead exploited.
Growing up, we ditched all animal-tested products, and didn't use leather. But it was only when I was into my late teens that I considered veganism. I had previously thought it was a bit of a waste of time, because you-don't-have-to-kill-animals-to-get-eggs-and-milk. However, I was becoming annoyed with the basic idea of using animals, exploiting them, whether or not they are killed in the process. So I became vegan when I was 18.
I didn't know any other vegans, and just did what I felt was right. But, as I read more and more, I realsed just how ridiculous the animal industries are. Indeed, you don't kill an animal to *get* milk or eggs, but males which are born in the breeding process are useless, and therefore killed. A horrifying thing to consider. The same thing with all animal products - whether or not they are treated "humanely" or with the standard cruelty, the end is the same, which is slaughter. Farm animals are also bred as products, so they are genetically inferior, suffer all kinds of health problems especially in the joints, because they are selectively bred to be as big as possible. They are a bastardization of their natural origins.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I had been fat since I was about 9 years old. At 17, I got tired of it, and decided to diet. I got a lot of the really excessive weight off, but then I started to hit the gym, and got hooked. I've been on and off ever since - these days more ON than OFF thankfully... Seeing other athletes and what they've achieved, really inspires me, and I really want to represent veganism in the most positive way possible - and that means being physically presentable and outwardly healthy.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
I've always had a big problem with food, over-eating on junk and sweets, huge servings, eating late in the day, you name it, I have done it. But I had a real break through in 2012 when I cleaned up my diet completely for a couple of months, and the results were fantastic! I cut out anything which was pointless in my diet, and just focused on what was important for health. That meant I was having a fruit smoothie in the morning, then a small (25g) serving of nuts (often walnuts, sometimes almonds) later in the morning, along with more fruit through the day. Then at night I'd have a big serving of vegetables - broccoli, sweet potato, kidney beans, sweet corn etc. No oils, just steamed or boiled. The weight fell off me and I felt great! I try to keep to this kind of diet now.
How would you describe your training program?
These days I typically do a full-body work out. I do a short warm up, then I go through each body part, doing heavy, compound exercises one after the other - just for one set per body part. I do it like a circuit. Once I've hit everything once, and put everything into each movement, I then go around with more moderate weights and wear myself out, and at the end I do some isolation stuff. At home I have a bar for pull-ups, and I often do several cycles of push-ups, chin-ups, and squats, with some boxing.
What kind of supplements do you use, if any, and why?
I take a B12 supplement just in case. I sometimes take a general vitamin tablet, again, just in case. I take a scoop or two of soy protein powder, to get some convenient protein. I try not to rely too much on supplements, my diet is focused upon fresh wholefoods which provide me with what I need.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
Yeah, you know it already, the main one is the protein... which is ridiculous... The average person only needs 5-10% of their calories to come from protein. If you can't get that in your diet, then I don't know what you're eating. Another misconceptions is that it's somehow "feminine" or "gay" to care about animals. I mean, that whole notion hinges on discrimination against homosexuals, women, or anybody who strays from the fabricated notion of what is "masculine" in the first place, which is crap. But on top of that, compassion surely has to be seen as virtuous. Additionally, another misconception is that it's expensive to be vegan... which it isn't. I think really it all stems from ignorance. Most people don't know any vegans, so they go from what they hear in movies, which often depict vegans as flakey hippies.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with veganism?
If you're doing it for the animals, then just go for it. It'll be a load off your mind. Be humble, be prepared to change and adapt how you live, and learn more. Don't assume you know it all at any point. There's always something else you'll find out about, and don't be afraid to take a stand, change your perspective and say "no" to things you know to be wrong.
If you're doing it primarily for health, then perhaps you could take it in smaller steps. Do a vegan day once or twice a week. Hell, even a vegan meal once or twice a week. Get used to just eating plants, and accept that it is not alien. Another way to do it is drop things off one at a time. Get rid of the thing you eat least anyway, so if you don't eat much fish, just get rid of that totally. Then chicken, then whatever else. Week by week, so you're replacing things steadily. Talk to other vegans, there are lots of people on this site happy to give advice.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
Find something you can do consistently. Bits here and there won't do it. You need to be doing it week after week, so find something you can do and keep motivated with. It doesn't matter so much what that is (well, depending on your goal), but it's going to be a long term thing. Also, keep track of what you're doing. Take photos of yourself weekly to make sure you're actually having an effect - and if you are, this will let you know and motivate you so much. Same with your training, keep track of what weights you're lifting, what intensity you're going at, how long you're doing cardio etc... otherwise it's easy to plateau and not improve. You want to beat your last effort, and if you can't remember what that was, then you can't aim for it.
How do people react when they find out you're vegan?
I guess honestly, most of the time people don't say anything to me. I think it can be easy to think negatively, because the times that people do actually say something, it is negative. But, most people don't seem to really care. Obviously, when the subject eventually comes up, I think most people do have a problem with veganism, they think it is pointless, and that you're basically pedantic or misguided to want to be vegan. But the times when people react there and then when they find out, they often have questions stored up, because I'm the first vegan they've met. If not the first vegan, then certainly the first vegan male. But - thankfully they are always surprised by my physical condition, and I hope it at least dislodges something in their brain concerning the dreaded protein nonsense.
Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share?
Yeah, veganism to me is just a logical practice. I treat others with respect, even if I disagree with them, and I know that people come to veganism for all kinds of reasons. And whatever the reason, the results (for the planet) are the same. Whether it is for religious, spiritual, health, practical or ethical reasons, it is a good thing to do. But for me, it is 100% about ethics. It is something deep inside me that hates injustice, exploitation, sadism, cruelty and suffering. It's simple to me, that I don't want anybody or anything to suffer. When you see so many healthy athletes out there doing well on a vegan diet, and as I know first hand how easy it is and inexpensive, there really is no excuse that I'll hear.