Royal Marine to Plant-Powered Adventurer | Marco’s Story

Marco D’Andrea (@marco_dandrea_) is a former Royal Marine’s Commando, passionate photographer, and lover of plant-based foods. Always looking for the next mountain to climb or outdoor adventure, Marco recognises the importance of health and fitness in being able to live the active lifestyle he loves. As a contestant on the 2019 season of the TV show Treasure Island with Bear Grylls, Marco has known what it’s like to have to have his usual diet challenged in order to survive on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean. Now, back in the “real world”, he enjoys eating delicious and healthy food that is completely plant-based.

Read Marco’s story below and discover his top tips for a vegan lifestyle.

When and why did you choose to become vegan?

I decided to give up the consumption of meat towards the end of 2016 purely for health and fitness purposes. As 2017 rolled on and I began to build my confidence as a vegetarian I decided to take the plunge and go fully vegan while expecting to suffer from a lack of meat/dairy based protein, however, the effects were the complete opposite, I had never felt fitter or more alert even during my 6 years of service within the Royal Marines.

Were you able to stick to a vegan diet whilst in the Marines?

Thankfully, I wasn’t deployed on any exercises or training packages towards the end of my military career which is when I properly switched to a veggie/vegan diet, so I was able to balance the two quite easily!

Did you notice becoming vegan had any positive effects on your health?

I’m aware of what’s commonly known as the “honeymoon period” with regards to dieting and lifestyle changes so it would be easy for me to say YES, I felt incredible after my shift towards a plant based diet (which I did) but I expected this from such a drastic shift, mostly towards my mental state of mind. One thing I can say up until this day is this; I have had zero negative effects and I am as fit and strong as ever. My initial concerns were the common ones such as lack of protein as well as dietary fats but all of this has been taken care of with the right research and attention towards your dietary intake. Eating clean and avoiding heavily processed foods will always have a positive outcome on your well-being so long as you ensure it’s done correctly and sustainably.

Filled Vegan Cookie and Maps

Do you find it difficult to get all the nutrients you need in your diet?

My kitchen is now filled with jars full of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, berries and other sources of healthy fats, slow burning carbs and natural sugars. I love to cook and enjoy being creative in the kitchen which is always a massive help when going plant based, if only to recreate your favourites with alternatives to meat and dairy. As far as I’m aware I am in good health and I continue to enjoy a plant based diet and I’m constantly updating my knowledge of what’s needed to sustain it moving forward. As someone who burns a ton of calories on a daily basis, I would say my only real struggle from time to time is consuming the right amount of calories to match my outgoing calories. This is something I’m steadily getting to grips with and adapting my intake to sustain my way of life.

What are your top 2 tips for someone who is considering trying veganism?

My top two tips for anyone wishing to go vegan are as follows; firstly, don’t try to give up everything all at once, it’s important to do your research and slowly swap your current food sources with plant based alternatives so as not to feel like your missing out on food groups but rather you’re slowly gaining new and interesting ones. Secondly, Don’t worry if 6, 12 or 24 months down the line you end up eating meat or dairy again, either by accident or purposefully while on holiday or visiting friends/family. Being vegan isn’t a life sentence or banishment from foods you’ve always eaten, it should be done responsibly and sustainably and if you’re serious about taking it up for the long term you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you go astray. Just remember to do what’s best for yourself, live by your own standards and enjoy the journey.

What is your go-to Myvegan product and why?

My go‐to Myvegan product is Pea Protein. As someone who is very active and into fitness I need to ensure I’m consuming a high and sustainable quantity of protein on a daily/weekly basis. Pea protein is just as good (better in some areas) as whey protein and it’s easily blended with a few other ingredients such as Creatine and Cacao Powder for the perfect shake.

ultimate vegan protein shake

Marco’s Go-To Ultimate Vegan Protein Shake Recipe:

Blend together the following ingredients:

If you could give one piece of advice to your followers, what would it be?

My one piece of advice for anyone reading this is to be sure you’re going vegan for the right reasons. Do it for you and you alone, if you begin your journey with or for someone else you might eventually use that same reason to give up. Have a strong understanding of what it means to go vegan and make sure those around you are aware of your decision. Support others and don’t worry about negativity towards your decision, stick with it and you’ll find your way.

Finally, what’s your ultimate favourite vegan meal?

My favourite vegan meal is a big bowl of homemade granola covered in yoghurt, nuts, seeds, berries and fresh fruit, the recipe for which can be found on my Instagram.

Shop Marco’s favourites:

Arabella Ogilvie

Arabella Ogilvie

Writer and expert

Arabella has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology from the University of Glasgow where she covered health topics ranging from the physiological effects of exercise and nutrition, to psychology and neuroscience.

She has a lifelong interest in sport and fitness, including running, swimming, hockey, and especially rowing. At university, Arabella was a keen rower and competed in the first boat at events such as the prestigious Henley Women’s Regatta, The Scottish Boat Race, and British University Championships, and won Novice Rower of the year in her first year.

In her spare time, Arabella loves to train in the gym and practice yoga and meditation. She is passionate about the natural world and will take any opportunity to be outdoors.

Find out more about Arabella’s experience here.