Name: Simone Collins
Year of Birth: 25/10/1986
Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia
Current Residence: Melbourne, Australia
Sports: Weight training, figure competitor (novice)
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have.
I am a graphic designer, currently working for a well-known t-shirt label here in Australia.
It’s my dream job, I feel so privileged that I can be creative all day and get paid for it!
Training and bodybuilding is my passion, I have just started competing and I’m addicted!
I also love art and music. I recently competed in the IFBB Victorian State titles and I placed 3rd in my division which was Figure Novice.
Why did you become vegan?
I developed a strong interest in animals at a very young age. I loved the outdoors, nature and wildlife, and always enjoyed the company of animals. I made the connection between the animals I loved and the meat I was eating as a child, and I never really enjoyed having to eat meat. Like most other kids though, I was brought up believing meat was a necessary part of our diets.
When I turned 13, I made best friends with a vegetarian girl, who helped me convince my parents allowed me to become vegetarian. Thankfully they agreed, and I never looked back!
I became vegan about 3 years ago, not long after starting my training. I was made aware of the cruelty that is also involved in dairy and egg production through a campaign run by an animal welfare organisation called Animals Australia. I did my research further, and found some terrifying and drastic footage of cruel farming practices. I knew then and there that I did not want to be a part of it, and instantly made the decision to become vegan.
At first I wasn’t sure if I would be able to reach my goals of competing in a figure comp as a vegan, but I decided to just take it as a challenge! I did a lot of online research, which lead me to many inspiring websites, including Vegan Bodybuilding. It really motivated and inspired me, I saw that there were many others out there achieving their fitness goals as vegans, and that I could do it too!
I also found www.veganstrength.org and was completely amazed by the crew of power lifters and bodybuilders who also happened to be based in my own city. They host training sessions and public demonstrations where they disprove many “vegan myths” through their sheer strength! I went to a few of their shows and was so inspired by them and everything they were doing to help raise awareness of animal cruelty.
Armed with new confidence and motivation, I hit they gym hard. It was exciting to see the results from my training teamed up with a vegan diet.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
At first I just wanted to improve my health. I wasn't really taking good care of myself; I was stressed, anxious and depressed, which affected my eating. My doctor told me I needed to put on weight, so I decided to get healthy at the same time.
In 2010 I started training at Doherty's Gym City once a week, and there I met my first trainer who also happened to be the owner of the gym! He trained me once a week and showed me how to use the free weights and machines.
I realized the results I was getting in the gym were not only physical, but also mental and emotional. I was getting healthy again, I looked great, but above all else my depression, anxiety and stress levels were minimized, and I really feel I had grown as a person. I have so much more self-confidence now and just feel so happy and healthy all the time! He had lit a spark in me and I found my true passion ;)
The gym completely turned my life around! My whole outlook on life changed... I'd go as far as saying it saved my life!
How would you describe your nutrition program?
I would describe it as a typical bodybuilding diet, which I have veganised.
I like to eat high amounts of plant-based protein and fats, a moderate amount of carbs, and loads of cooked and raw vegetables.
My favorite proteins are tofu, tempeh, seitan, some mock meats (on rare occasions) beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and vegan protein powders.
My favorite fats are avocados, nuts, flax meal and flax oil, hemp, chia, coconut and dark chocolate.
My favorite carbs are sweet potato, oats and rice cakes.
My favorite veggies are spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, kale, sprouts, eggplant, pumpkin, raw leafy greens and sea vegetables.
My favorite treats are superfood balls, vegan protein bars, raw bars, berries, vegan candy, soy ice-cream, and dairy free chocolate
How would you describe your training program?
I like to do 5-6 days a week, one body part per session, with abs on the end of a session once a week. I keep my cardio minimal – I usually I don’t do any! I find I stay lean very easily so I like to optimize my muscle growth by avoiding it!
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
That we are weak, deficient, and disadvantaged in sports. That it is hard or impossible to build muscle or get lean. I like to think I’m good against this!
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with veganism or training?
Just be brave, take the challenge! If anyone doubts you, don’t listen to them, just prove them wrong!
Train hard and stay true to yourself always :)