Name: Scott Shetler
Year of Birth: 1975
Weight: 175-180 lbs
Birthplace: Geneva, Ohio
Current Residence: Atlanta, Georgia
Sports: powerlifting, kettlebell sport, student of internal martial arts
Social Media: facebook.com/sshetler
Twitter - @sshetler
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have.
I’ve worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years as a personal trainer. I have been running my own business since 2004. I started with a small powerlifting gym in my basement where I would train with my training partners, as well as train private clients.
I work with both highly competitive athletes and motivated fitness enthusiasts. In 2008 I moved my training center out of the basement and into an office/warehouse complex. I’ve authored 6 books, and my 7th is a project I’m doing in which I have put together a book, with contributed articles from 19 other plant-based athletes, trainers, and health and fitness professionals, and 100% of the sales will go to Mercy For Animals.
I was also the kettlebell training specialist for the TapouT Virtual Training Center, and am a managing partner in a golf fitness and performance business. I’ve always had an interest in the martial arts and at various points in my life studied various “external” martial arts, and most recently have spent the past couple of years studying qigong and Taijiquan with a Shaolin Master. In addition I have competed in powerlifting and the sport of kettlebell lifting as well. I am very passionate about helping people accomplish their health, fitness, and performance goals; and I have a deep love for animals so I do all I can to help support rescue and shelter organizations.
Why did you become vegan?
My love and support for animals was the primary reason, in addition my health has improved dramatically since going plant-based. I was conflicted for a long time, I had a sincere love for animals, yet I was still eating meat. For a while I tried to disassociate from my food, but it was still in the back of my head. Then one day I noticed a horrible smell in my garage. At the time we were using our garage for storage, not for parking our cars in it, so the doors were not opened often. When I moved a bookshelf I found a dead bunny behind it. I realized that it must have gotten in one day when I had the door open and was still inside when the door shut and obviously died from starvation. This realization was my tipping point. Realizing that I caused, even though it was indirect, the needless suffering of this poor animal killed me. It absolutely wrecked me and woke me up to the fact that I was denying what I knew all along, that I was being a hypocrite. I made the decision to change my life on the spot and that is what triggered my journey to a plant-based diet, and I’m still learning and growing daily, but I have no regrets-it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I was a skinny kid and became interested in bodybuilding when I was in high school. Mainly I wanted to have bigger muscles like the comic book characters I grew up reading. Later my interests were more strength related. Now health and longevity is my primary motivation
How would you describe your nutrition program?
I generally start the day off with a huge glass of clean water with lemon or lime squeezed in it. Next I have a freshly made vegetable juice. I’ll drink 1-2 big green smoothies a day. The rest of my food is typically raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
I eat 1 and sometimes 2 cooked meals a day on top of all this, usually some type of rice and beans, or oatmeal, or a sandwich on sprouted grain bread made of either almond or sunflower seed butter.
Post-workouts I usually have a protein drink made of almond milk and whatever plant-based protein I’m using at the time, currently it’s a pea, hemp, brown rice, and chia seed blend.
I definitely lean more towards a high-raw vegan diet, and at various times of the year, particularly during the summer, I will eat 100% raw vegan and usually do a juice cleanse each year as well. I drink nut milks, water, tea, and coffee. I do like the occasional, and sometimes frequent, vegan dessert. I try not to label myself as a “vegan” or “raw-vegan” or whatever. I just say I follow a plant-based diet, with a focus on fresh, raw foods whenever most people ask.
How would you describe your training program?
I practice meditation, qigong and Taiji daily. I am currently studying both Yang and Chen-style Taiji under my Shifu, Shi Deru. In addition I usually have four primary training sessions a week in which I focus on compound movements like squats, deadlifts, bench press, and standing press, coupled with a lot of bodyweight movements like pull-ups, dips, push-ups, glute/ham raises, etc. I work in a lot of kettlebell and Indian club training on top of the strength work, and I run or do sled/prowler work 2-4x a week as well.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
I supplement with a vegetable protein powder (currently using a blend that contains brown rice, hemp, pea, and chia seeds). In addition I use a B-12 supplement (this just stems from concern of not getting enough in my nutrition, although I’ve talked to a lot of vegans who don’t supplement and seem to be doing fine, so I’m a bit conflicted here), flax seed oil, and I take some extra vitamin C as I feel it helps me recover from hard training periods. In addition I generally take some blue green algae, or chlorella; and am experimenting with, and looking into, some various Chinese herbs, but have not learned enough yet to comment on it.
How do people react when they find out you are vegan?
Most people are pretty cool and inquisitive about it, especially since most people who know me well have seen a huge change in my physique, appearance, and health since switching to a plant-based diet. Some people like to joke around, but I’ve never encountered anyone who was vocally against it. On the flip-side I don’t push it on anyone either. I try to share my story and other’s stories, and the positive benefits I’ve experienced, but I won’t ever be pushy about it. Too many people take a really hard stance on nutrition, and sometimes argue about nutritional habits like fundamentalists argue about religion and politics. I want to help people be healthy, not argue with them!
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
The biggest is that you need animal-based protein to be strong, athletic, lean, muscular and healthy. There are too many examples of vegan bodybuilders, and athletes, destroying this myth. Personally, after switching to a plant-based diet, I competed in a kettlebell sport competition. In addition to training and competing in this meet with 100% plant-based nutrition, I came in about 40lbs lighter than my last kettlebell meet a little over 2 years prior, when I was eating a very meat-heavy diet. I ended up beating all of my previous records in the long cycle event (clean & jerk of two kettlebells for maximum reps in 10:00 without setting the kettlebells down) in both training and competition!
Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it?
Yes. Usually it is just through people asking me about my personal experiences. I do share information I’ve learned in my blogs, articles, and books I’ve written. Currently I am working on a project, a book that is a collaboration of articles from other plant-based athletes, trainers, and health and fitness professionals at plantbasedperformance.org. 100% of all book and ebook sales will go to benefit Mercy For Animals, a 501 (c)(3) dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
Defining your goal, and training consistently.
What do you like best about being vegan?
In addition to the exceptional health benefits I’ve experienced, knowing that I’m helping animals and having a positive effect on the environment. I still have a ways to go, but I’m getting better daily!
What do you like best about being fit?
Having really good health and energy levels, and helping others experience the same benefits I’ve gained.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training?
Start slow. Focus on progress but keep things simple. Decide on what your goal is, and make consistent progress toward it. Use as few exercises as you can to get there. It’s easier to evaluate what works and what doesn’t when you have fewer working parts. Simplicity, and consistency are the most important variables when starting out. I see too many beginners “program hopping” and getting discouraged when they fail to make progress.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Do it! Educate yourself. Learn. Don’t fall victim to the unhealthy vegan diet! Focus on fresh, whole, and raw whenever possible.
What motivates you in life?
Having the realization that my purpose is to help people experience better health and to help contribute to the happiness and welfare of animals has been my biggest motivation. I see people who train day in and day out in that quest for a 6-pack, or bigger biceps, and many of the things they do to get there are far from healthy. I want to help people realize the importance of developing real health and having good energy, and when the get healthy on the inside, and develop a strong mind and spirit, the physical stuff takes care of itself, but it very rarely works the other way around.
What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you?
I think veganbodybuilding.com is a great resource. It’s an opportunity to learn from people who live a similar lifestyle, and share similar goals and passions. Plus all you have to do is browse the user profiles for a minute to realize that the idea that it is not possible to build strength and muscle without a diet that is heavy in animal-based protein is far from accurate. I think veganbodybuilding.com is helping to educate people about the health and performance benefits of a plant-based diet in a constructive, and very effective, manner.
Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share?
Life is short, don’t waste it. Look inside yourself, figure out what your purpose is here in this lifetime and do something every day that takes you closer to that realization.