John Machin

In 2019, VfL spoke to fitness fanatic John Machin who had decided in childhood that he didn’t want to eat meat or dairy.

There’s a belief that vegans must be pale, weak and skinny; I’m hoping to show that the exact opposite can be true. Being 63, I can also demonstrate that a life eating purely plant food offers lasting and quite spectacular physical results.

"I have been vegan since childhood. Back then, people like me were just known as fussy eaters. If my parents gave me anything from an animal such as meat or dairy, I felt disgusted; I couldn’t even consider eating it. I knew I’d be physically sick. This caused some consternation; and, at the age of five, I was gravely informed by our doctor that, unless I began eating meat and dairy, I wouldn’t live to see the age of ten. I think he got that one slightly wrong.

"Plant foods are ideal for health and fitness; they’re what we naturally thrive on. Now in my seventh decade, I have never been fitter or healthier. I love the vegan diet and training, and how they make me feel.”

John had been vegan for 50 years before he met his first fellow vegan, so he finds the growth in veganism today as heart-warming as it is surprising. He said: “It’s never been easier to be vegan, and with such a wealth of fabulous vegan food on the shelves, there are no longer any reasons not to try veganism. Just excuses. Veganism is better for our health, for the human race, for the planet, and – crucially – for our wonderful animals. I don’t preach about veganism anymore; pictures speak louder than words and I hope I’m visual proof that being vegan long-term is beneficial for not just our minds and our bodies, but also for our self-respect as a species.”