In this blog, I answer common questions I get asked as a vegan athlete!
How long have you been a vegan?
I have been a full-time vegan for 9 years or more. I honestly have lost track. I have also been 100% meat-free for 16 years.
What lead you to switch to a vegan lifestyle?
I initially switched to a vegetarian diet because I like animals too much. The idea of eating flesh of a dead animal grosses me out. Then I transitioned to a vegan lifestyle because I was curious and I heard it was healthier. Whether that is actually true or not is up for debate, but it works really well for me.
How has being a vegan impacted your fitness, recovery time, health, and wellness?
In general, I physically feel a lot better since transitioning to a vegan diet. I never feel really crummy or groggy after eating. In general, I recover pretty quickly. I think my training and healthy eating helps a lot with this.
What do you enjoy the most about being vegan?
Physically how I feel. I feel like my whole body works better and feels cleaner. I also think it is a fun way to eat and I love to cook vegan food! It is my favorite to cook for people who haven’t had a lot of exposure to vegan cooking.
What is the hardest part about being a vegan?
Social gatherings that revolve around food and holidays where I am with people who are not vegans/vegetarians.
I am going to hop on up a vegan soapbox for a few minutes: These types of events lead to me experiencing a lot of anxiety because people are very sensitive around food they have cooked and people not eating it. It is not uncommon for me to hear things like, “I made this just for you,” “_____ worked so hard to cook all of this,” “this food is really good and is so worth it” when talking about food that is not vegan or people say is vegan but who knows if it actually is. 🤷
There are a lot of foods that are not vegan that people don’t know about (white refined sugar, refined brown sugar, honey, pie crust, many breads/rolls, dressings, jar pesto, hand-made and frozen pastas, and so much more). So, when people say that they made something that is “vegan” it is hard for me to trust whether it actually is or not. Also, people tend to see veganism as a choice rather than similar to an allergy. After 16 years of no meat and 9+ years without daily or eggs, my GI system has COMPLETELY changed, and I think people don’t consider this. I have had many situations where I leave social events with the worst stomach pain you can image because people fed me food that was not vegan and I ate it out of guilt. I have been told by some that this is “all in my head.” Again, from people who are not vegans and don’t have an understanding of how our gut and microbiome work. As you can see, I have had many social experiences where I feel that my choice to live a vegan lifestyle is shamed or an inconvenience for others even though I never push others to life a vegan lifestyle and I always bring food to social events.
Please keep this in mind the next time you have a vegan coming over J
I will get off my soapbox now J
What is your favorite recipe?
Peanut Tofu by the Minimalist Baker. Here is the link: https://minimalistbaker.com/baked-crispy-peanut-tofu/
Make sure you PRESS tofu before you cook it! This is so you squeeze the water out of it otherwise you end up with really
soggy and gross tofu! EW!
What is your favorite pre-race carb-load meal?
Sweet potato mac and cheese.
But what about protein? Where do you get it from?
Mostly tofu and nuts. I eat a TON of cashews since I love making vegan cashew cheese! I also love lentils, beans, and quinoa!
If you were on a desert island and there was only a cow to eat, would you eat it?
Short answer: No, I don’t think I would be able to go through with killing it, then cooking it, and then physically eating it.
Longer answer: When people ask me questions like this, I always think back to the time I was running in farm country with some running friends. We passed a farm with some cows and I said, “Ooo! Look at the cows!” My friend said to me, “Jamie, when you see a cow, you see a friend. When I see a cow, I see a burger.” This has really stuck with me because I think it really explains why being a vegan is so easy for me. I view animals much differently than most people. To me, they are equal to humans. They think, eat, breathe, have families, bond with friends, just like we do. I would never eat a human, so why would I eat something that is in my mind the same as a human?
What is your favorite question that people ask you about being vegan?
“Don’t you miss foods like cheese, ice cream, or meat?” My answer, “I like the vegan versions much better!”
What advice would you give athletes out there who are considering switching to a vegan lifestyle?
Do it gradually! It took me 10 months of eliminating daily and eggs from my diet before I was 100% vegan full-time for life. I think making small changes is the way to go. It allows time for us to learn how to develop a COMPLETELY different relationship with food. I cook differently, grocery shop different, and eat at restaurants differently than meat-eaters. I think gradual changes allows the process to feel less overwhelming and frustrating.