Name: Ed Mason
Weight: 170's - 180
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Current Residence: Houston, Texas
Sports: Running, weight lifting
Why did you become vegan?
I worked in fast food for 5 1/2 years, and I'd notice people who came in constantly gaining weight, which really concerned me. I ended up cutting soda and red meat out of my diet in September of 2003. I felt a lot better, and I ended up becoming a vegetarian (though I had already drastically cut my meat consumption in 2004) in October of 2004. I kept feeling better and better and having more energy, so I went to a vegan diet and never looked back. Though originally for health, I became aware of all the other reasons as to why people choose to not consume meat and began to endorse those reasons as well.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
Since I was a little kid. I used to love running and really getting my heart going and blood pumping. Living as a child in Philadelphia, we played what's called "Freedom", which is a variant of "Hide and go seek" with teams. It was what we did on summer nights, and it kept me active, and made me realize that I love doing things which really get my heart going.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
I'm a bit picky, in and of the perspective of all "foods" available to people today. I'm obviously vegan, but I'm allergic to wheat also, so my bread consumption is very low, but I try to minimize my canned food consumption, high fructose corn syrup is not allowed in my body, nor are hydrogenated oils. I try to eat organic when possible, and I try to eat lots of fruit and green smoothies, along with things like oatmeal, and anything made from hemp.
Another aspect, though not tied directly with nutrition is sleep. Sleep is a form of necessary nourishment, and in taking care of myself and my body, I try to aim to get a full night's sleep each night.
How would you describe your training program?
I don't have a training program that goes by a set schedule, but I try to split up my workouts (when lifting) into 2 (sometimes 3) body parts, and try to work each of them at least once a week. I try to combine synergistic things (like biceps and back, chest, shoulders and triceps, etc), and workout anywhere from 45 minutes to 80 - 90 minutes, depending on the muscle group. I warm up with at least 5 - 7 minutes of cardio (jumping rope or a stair climber), and try to do at least 2 sessions of cardio a week, consisting of at least 20 minutes, in addition to everything else I do when on my feet.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
I take hemp protein, but I think of it as more of a "food" than just calories. Vega is another one I enjoy, but many people know it's far more than just protein. Maca, chlorella, spirulina and wheatgrass are in my cabinet (not constantly used, however), but other than that I try to eat a lot of food and get my nutrients that way.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
Ugh, there's too many, and many of them lack any kind of logic at all. The one that annoys me the most is the misconception that eating soy products will "feminize" men and turn them into women, despite study after study after study saying otherwise.
Another is that people think vegans are scrawny and can't gain size, because when people think of what vegans eat, they think "iceberg lettuce and apples", and fail to realize that many popular bodybuilding foods (oats, rice & beans, sweet potatoes, peanut butter) are all plant based.
What do you think the most important aspect of fitness is?
Many people are content living their lives away in front of the TV with their hands in a bag of potato chips because "They only have one life and want to enjoy it.", but living an active lifestyle helps to keep you younger longer, makes aging more enjoyable when you stay in better shape than many others in their 50's & 60's, and that staying active and fit can be enjoyable in itself. There are so many ways to stay in shape and to get exercise, all you have to do is look around and find something for you.
What do you like best about being vegan?
There's so many things that I like about it. I always ate my vegetables growing up, so the food really is enjoyable for me and isn't a "Sacrifice" that most people think it is. I like not being overweight, having energy, never getting sick, and promoting a diet which is incredibly healthy for everyone, in addition to all the other reasons that people go vegan.
What do you like best about being fit?
Being fit is great because you have energy to do more things with your life, and being up on your feet doing things (as opposed to sitting on the couch) isn't viewed as a "chore". It's great to look in the mirror and actually feel good about yourself, especially living in a society where people are presented with images of "What they should look like".
What are your strengths as an athlete?
I find enjoyment in what I do, so going to the gym doesn't feel like a chore. I also really focus myself on good form and take things seriously. I take pride in the fact that I've been lifting weights since 1997 (on and off), but have never once been injured, though that's something I thank my father for.
What advice do you have for vegan athletes who are just starting out?
Make it enjoyable, and avoid the negativity of people who give you a hard time, you can do whatever you want to do, and there are many people who have proved that even bodybuilding is possible on a vegan diet (which, arguably is the hardest sport to prove that vegans can partake in).
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Do it. There's so many benefits, and there's so much evidence that shows that we should put the hamburgers and steaks down.
What motivates you to continue to be a successful vegan athlete?
The fact that it allows me to enjoy life to the fullest.
How has the website www.veganbodybuilding.com helped or inspired you?
Robert is my pal, and has given me plenty of things to help with my lifting, or ways to represent what I stand for. I was also inspired to start lifting weights again and build some muscle after visiting this site. I was vegan for about 4 months, and lost a tremendous amount of fat after running 4 miles a day, and I got tired of my family joking about how I looked like a "Homeless crackhead".
Is there anything else you would like to add about your vegan fitness lifestyle?
It's something that I need about as much as air or water, it's a big part of me.
Thank you so much!
You're quite welcome, and thank you for inspiring others to adopt a healthier lifestyle. :)
The Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness Team