HFM vegan bodybuilding diary: first entry
Body building challenge

HFM journalist and dedicated vegan, Andy Greening, has taken on the HFM bodybuilding challenge on a strictly animal-free diet. With help from vegan foods supplier, Pulsin, and personal trainer Rich Allsop, Andy will take on a protein heavy plant-based diet and be taken beyond his limits in the gym. 

I’ve always been battling with my weight as far back as I can remember. At the age of around 16 I managed to hit 16 stone. So when I was 17 years old, I thought enough is enough. I managed to get down to 11 stone by the time I was 17 and almost to the point I could consider myself an average weight for a 5’11 young male.


Then there was university, the calorific, booze led downfall in many young Brits lives. Luckily I went to university in Scarborough, which is essentially a town in the hills by the sea – so I was no stranger to some intense walking. Also, tried to keep my interest in running and going to the gym. Luckily I’ve always had an interest in food and cooking, so I’d use any given moment to cook something hearty rather than resort to the Rustler burger.

Fast track 3 years later and I started working full time. I managed to keep up my running, even entering the Bournemouth Bay 10km. However, as the years passed, and the more hours I spent behind a desk, all my hard work from my teenage years was being undone by lunchtime baguettes, office doughnuts and weekend binge drinking.

Fast track another few years and I’m now living in London and decided to turn vegetarian around the age of 28. If you were to ask my friends if the BBQ loving, food fanatic glutton grazer decided to call it a day on meat, they wouldn’t believe you were talking about the same person.

What started this change? At first I had no ‘beef’ with vegetarian alternatives – it wasn’t uncommon to find me making a veggie chili out of Quorn mince or a Thai green out of Quorn chicken. But the emotional reasoning happened when I started to read about the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China. As someone who loves dogs and growing up with them all my life, I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to torment and eat these beautiful animals. Then I started to think about farming and why that was any different, and then before you know it, I stopped eating meat.

One year later, I submerged myself into a vegan social media echo chamber which got me thinking not just ethically, but nutritionally too.

I am no stranger to exercise, or eating a balanced diet. My biggest problem is that I’m pretty lazy. I don’t lay around in my bed all day on my days off, I’m happy to walk rather than drive, I will always try and take the stairs but like a lot of people I struggle to keep an exercise routine in my life I can stick too.

I’ve owned a FitBit for around 2 years and I’m usually smashing my 10,000 steps goal daily. The problem is making the most of my time.  My evenings, like most people, are sacred and to give up precious hours relaxing on the sofa with the fiancée watching Netflix is a tough choice.

Efficiently working a routine around fitness has always come second in my life. This is something that I plan to change for good. In 8 weeks’ time I’ll be getting married so this is my one chance to make sure I can look back on my wedding photos and be proud of the effort I put in.

So how do I plan to achieve my body goals ready for my wedding?

Working alongside the Flo team at the YMCA Club in Tottenham Court Road, they will put me on a program of:

  • Personal Training (Rich Allsop)
  • Beauty Treatment (Lyn Montaque)
  • Sports Massage (David Matthews)
  • Nutrition Workshop (Nick Owen)

The Flo team offer a balanced, unified approach to fitness and wellbeing along with a open view to veganism within training making these the perfect team for the job.

So, 2 months of selling my soul to gym, am I ready? In short, yes. Alongside the help of the Flo team and having a date to hit, it will give me light at the end of the tunnel.

Be sure to keep your eyes open for my next post on how week one went. Also, you can read more about my 8-week fitness journey on my blog at Greening’s Grains & Gains.