In under one year, Peter went from a vegetarian to a vegan on a mission, exploding into an ‘overnight’ social sensation, with over 3,100 followers. His ever-popular and ingenious Vegan Testimonial Project has inspired and amazed thousands. As his Twitter name and blog title express, Peter realized at one point that he was ‘Ready for Plan B’ and went vegan.
I got a chance to interview Peter and get to the bottom of what makes him so popular. Besides his exquisite Twitter etiquette, Peter is genuinely kind, authentic and wants to make a positive impact. Enjoy meeting the guy behind ReadyforPlanB:
Jamessina: What was it that inspired your ‘aha’ moment, enough to make you consider a plan b?
Peter: It seems every guy I’ve known who is in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s all have a similar pattern of high cholesterol, heart disease, heart surgery and heart attacks. I knew that the day would come when I would have to shape up and change how I ate or I would be the same train wreck.
That ‘aha moment’ happened when I realized that day had arrived! I knew I was in trouble when my older brother was flagged for his unhealthy cholesterol. He was healthier than me in every way – he ate better, exercised more, and weighed less. And there he was hopping on that train wreck toward heart disease. Even if I shaped up and got myself into as good of shape as he was in, I knew I would still be in trouble.
J: You came on the twitter scene and exploded almost overnight to almost 2,000 followers! What’s your secret?
P: It’s a secret!
The connections you can make with people on twitter are pretty awesome. As much as I’d like to say it’s from an occasionally brilliant tweet, I think the secret is in the messages of the vegan testimonials project. It is inclusive and authentic and people have really enjoyed learning about other peoples’ journey to the vegan lifestyle. I’m also not selling anything – aside from education and compassion!
J: Did you and your wife ‘go veg’ together or was one the inspiration to the other?
P: My wife went vegan about two weeks before me and was definitely my inspiration. We had been vegetarian for years, and then we watched a few films like Forks Over Knives and Food Inc., and read some books that just made us look at each other and say we’re done with dairy and this whole culture of killing billions of animals. We took it a step further and wanted to eat only whole foods. We also do our best to avoid oil. This led to a complete eating overhaul and figuring out a whole new grocery list. I gave myself two weeks to figure out those changes gradually. She was the brave one who jumped straight in!
J: You’ve been collecting such inspiring vegan testimonials from so many incredibly wonderful people. Tell me about why you started this.
P: There are more people than ever interested in veganism and I really enjoy helping them out by answering questions or pointing them toward some books or films. I was working with some blogger friends on other projects and I just thought it would be cool to team up with them and other friends to build this inspiring resource – each story is so unique. My goal is that the project reflects some of the diversity of veganism and sends the message to new and potential vegans that they also have a story to tell, and they need to be a part of this awesome movement!
I became vegan for me, but remain vegan for me, the animals, and the environment.
J: You are an avid vegan cyclist – why cycling? What do you love about it?
P: There is a common misconception out there that vegans are skinny, pale and weak – definitely not athletes. I’ve always loved cycling, and my veganism actually helped me to become a better, stronger rider. The coolest thing about cycling for me is that no matter how hard I push myself, there is always another level. When I first started riding and bought my first road bike, I was so out of shape and unhealthy. I built up to where I thought it would be fun to go on a group ride with some faster guys where I could draft. I made it through about a quarter of the ride before they dropped me (I couldn’t keep up) and I was left to fend for myself and find my way home. It really opened my eyes to how hard cyclists push themselves, and where I wanted to be.
As I progressed through the sport and my vegan lifestyle, the results I had were just amazing. I was getting healthier, losing weight, and getting stronger and faster. I went from trying to just finish events, to trying to finish them strong, to trying to win them. The further I went, the more fun I had. It’s a great example to set – vegan cyclists cannot only compete, but also put the hammer down!
J: What has been your favorite experience as a vegan thus far?
P: The coolest thing by far has been having family and friends also go vegan after watching my journey. I’m grateful because I want them healthy and active and in my life for as long as possible! I also love to see their perspective change on industrial food and the cruelty and destruction it causes.
J: Is health your reason for veganism? If not, what is?
P: Like many others, health is what started me on this journey, but it is no longer the only reason. I became vegan for me, but remain vegan for me, the animals, and the environment. I believe that once you commit to the vegan lifestyle, you are willing to open your eyes and accept all the reasons that make this lifestyle the most compassionate way to live.
Some of the first things that I read (Omnivore’s Dilemma) and watched (Food, Inc., Supersize Me) gave me a glimpse of industrial farming of animals and how subsidized corn is so central to our Western diets. Having the curtain pulled back on the industrial food chain was pretty shocking, and also pretty empowering. After seeing what companies will do to our health, the environment, and billions of animals per year, I knew I wanted nothing to do with them or their products – and I went vegetarian.
As my education continued, I watched people like Gary Yourofsky and films like Earthlings and Forks Over Knives. I had always considered vegetarians and vegans very similar, both compassionate toward animals and both good for your health. Gary and those films really laid out the case for avoiding all animal products, and showed me how wrong that view was. That’s when I knew I wanted to go vegan.
J: How do you feel now? Any changes in your body you have noticed besides weight loss on a vegan diet?
P: I feel awesome! Surprisingly to me some of the biggest changes in my body had nothing to do with cycling and everything to do with veganism. The biggest one is that I feel a lot less stress now, which means I’m sleeping much better. After ditching dairy, my metabolism has ramped up, my skin is clearer, and I have a lot less congestion.
When I started my vegan journey, I was a little worried about gaining and maintaining my strength on the bike. I have shed weight and continue to get stronger, so my power-to-weight ratio has been going the right way!
J: Besides the diet, what else do you embrace about veganism?
P: I try to do the best I can and be aware of what I’m purchasing and what I’m putting into my body. I’m no longer embarrassed to ask for a plate of veggies at a restaurant, and send it back when it arrives with butter on it. I’m very proud of the way I’m taking care of myself, my family and friends, and sometimes total strangers.
I’m a much more curious person now, and eager to learn more. I am a bit more cynical about things like the Food Pyramid and what our government suggests that we eat. There are many great experts out there who don’t have much of a voice yet because the Western diet can be very political. I still have some questions and more exploring to do.
I try to be an activist and help promote veganism and related causes. That’s why I am so grateful to have the chance to speak with you! Thanks for helping spread the word on the vegan testimonials project!