Name: Aaron MacNeil Height: 5 foot 7 inches Weight: 175 Birthplace: Glace Bay Nova Scotia Canada Current Residence: Mount Hope Ontario Sports: Bodybuilding , soccer, basketball. Social Media: MacNeil Custom Fitness E-mail: [email protected] Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have. I am a custom home carpenter/framer. I enjoy hiking and all outdoor sports with my children, we play hockey and pretty much everything that's active. There are not many days that we aren't outside doing something. Why did you become vegan? I became vegan for health reasons. I was always sick or tired, I never felt well and i couldn't take it anymore, I needed to make a change. The thought of my children growing up without me in their life wasn't acceptable to me, and I wanted to do everything in my power to be in their lives for as long as I could.
When and why did you become interested in fitness? I became interested in fitness about 4 years ago when I made the switch, I have done it before but not been able to achieve much. I started to get really into it when the results came and I realized I could help a lot more people than just myself. How would you describe your nutrition program? I eat a lot of small meals during the day it really works well for me. I like to always be burning fat and making sure my body gets lots of fuel. I eat about 70% raw. A typical day might be:
5 am - 1/2 cup of oatmeal + stevia protein shake. 7 am - 1/2 cup of quinua + fruit + peanut butter + protein shake 10 am - 1 cup pinto beans +1 cup carrots. +apple 12 pm - Veggie burger + veggies, 1 sweet potatoe. 2:30 -1/2 cup tofu + 2 tsp cashew butter + 1 cup of veggies 5pm - 1 cup chick peas beans + 1 cup steamed carrots + 1 tsp of oil. 7pm - salad + protein shake. I also usually eat a big bowl if kale, 2 tomatoes, 1 cup of spinach, 2 carrots, 1 cup of alfalfa sprouts every night 2 hours before bed with some apple cider vinegar. How would you describe your training program? My training program is very intense, I do high intensity weight training in the morning for about an hour followed by interval training about 20 minutes. Then I do another 20 minutes of interval training in the evening. Heavy one week and light the next. I work out 4 days on, then 1 day off, then 3 days on, 1 day off.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why? I like to take a protein shake after a workout, and also take creatine and amino acids . How do people react when they find out you are vegan? They ask me what I do, could I give them a nutrition plan and training program, and as always ask where I get my protein. What are some common misconceptions about veganism? People think you will be weak and not healthy. Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it? I just show people my transformation and I let the pictures do the talking. That makes a huge difference in changing someones opinion.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is? Rest and eating properly. What do you like best about being vegan? Being able to do things I thought impossible before. What do you like best about being fit? Being able to wear out my kids. What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training? The time will pass anyway, what matters is what you do with it! What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan? It is awesome and the best thing I could have ever done for myself my body and my children, do it!
What motivates you in life? My children, and being here for them. What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you? It has inspired me greatly. I love the site, the people, the owners and everyone involved . It is awesome and I hope to one day be able to be an even more important part of this group. Do you have any other thoughts you'd like to share? Just to thank everyone here at veganbodybuilding.com for doing everything you do.
Name: Ahmed El-Ghandour Age: 32 Height: 5'10” Weight: 165 Birthplace: Sao Paolo, Brazil Current Residence: Rockville, Maryland Sports: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (black belt) I started training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) around 1994 in Sao Paola. In 2001, I became vegetarian after a friend I trained with in Brazil said it made him feel better. (He is now a black belt as well). I tried it and stuck with it, but I really felt the difference when I went vegan in 2002. I made the transition to veganism after a new student—who was vegan—started at our academy. I had already been reading about how animals are mistreated in meat, egg, and dairy production, so I was ready to take the step. In 2006, I received my black belt from Fernando Yamasaki (www.grappling.com). I've been the same weight for the last ten years—no change after becoming vegetarian or vegan. I've never tried to gain weight—I'm at a good strength level and size for jiu-jitsu. My diet and training regimen can be adapted for someone looking to add muscle mass by replacing two of the BJJ classes with weight lifting sessions, and adding two or more protein shakes (30 grams) a day. Training schedule BJJ -- six days a week Boxing — once a week Strength and conditioning class — twice a week Teach BJJ -- two classes a week Sample Meal Plans Breakfast: bagel with hummus and spinach Lunch: homemade beans and rice with soy sausage Snack: protein bar Dinner: Pasta with tomato sauce, salad (spinach, corn, tomato, hearts of palm) Breakfast: cereal (Nature's Path Organic Flax Plus Multibran) with soymilk (Silk) Lunch: sushi (avocado rolls, cucumber rolls, etc.), miso soup, seaweed salad Snack: protein bar Dinner: Gardenburger “BBQ Riblets” or “Chik'n Grill” patty on hamburger buns, salad Snacks: soy yogurt, nuts, fresh fruit, dried fruit, granola bars. Supplements A vegan multivitamin just to cover my bases. What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan? Some people become vegan really quickly, and others may transition over several years. Do what works for you. There is a lot of great vegan food out there, and it will take a while for you to find what you like, and works best for your body. If you need inspiration to stick to it, remind yourself of the ways animals are mistreated by watching the undercover footage you can find online. A good book to read is “Slaughterhouse” by Gail Eisnitz.
Name: Alex Cuevas Year of Birth: 1976 Height: 5'9” Weight: 175lbs Birthplace: San Jose, CA Current Residence: Miami, FL Sports: BJJ, JUDO, TKD Website: mychoicescafe.com Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have Today I am running a vegan restaurant in Miami called “Choices Café”. I am very passionate of the vegan lifestyle & I love to promote it in a loving way to our guests who walk in the doors of our space.
Why did you become vegan? I became vegan when I was just starting college, over 15 years ago when I learned about how animals are mistreated to produce dairy & egg products. When and why did you become interested in fitness? Like many young boys, I was passionate about the martial arts, for sake of the beauty and grace of the movements, along with the self-defense aspects. This fueled my interests in the arts and also then, necessarily, in being fit. How would you describe your nutrition program? I am presently using an intermittent fasting program; incorporating green juices, BCAAs, SunWarrior Protein, and wholesome vegan meals during my eating window
How would you describe your training program? I don't have a lot of time, so I focus on quality lifting in as short of a time as possible. I tend to lift heavier weights for ~20 reps each to ensure that I have “mastered” a weight and get a great ROM with the exercise. I do not rest much, so I would say it is similar to a HIIT program using heavier weights and major muscle groups, but using the standard exercises like curls, dumbbell benching, pull ups, etc. So one round for me might be: Chest Press, Pullups, Curls, Shurgs, Shoulder Press, Squats, Side Bends, Leg Lifts = all 20 reps, each almost the death of me, and only about ten seconds rest between... repeat the circuit two more times. What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why? Presently, I am using BCAAs to prevent my muscles from going into a cannibalizing state during a fasting state & Sunwarrior Raw protein to rebuild myself when needed (when I feel very sore). How do people react when they find out you are vegan? Today I walk around proudly as a vegan — I'm not adversarial, so it is easier to have conversations with people about it. I don't preach. I just explain what I do, and why I do it — when people ask. As this movement has begun to increase in popularity, it is also much simpler to converse with people who are curious or have thought about the lifestyle.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism? That you are going to be an unhealthy, stick figure, tree hugger... or a giant fat carb eater. Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it? Yes. Most recently — I have opened a vegan restaurant in Miami — Choices Cafe What do you think the most important aspect of training is? Consistency & Intensity - I think it is easy to be fit these days — it is just a matter of staying disciplined with the food intake, the workout routines and working hard when the opportunity to train presents itself. Looking back to my early 20's I recall a lot of jabber time whilst at the gym — today, I hardly even notice who is in the gym as I am razor focused to complete my sets and bounce. What do you like best about being vegan? I like the fact that I am causing less harm to the earth and I am not contributing to the suffering of factory farm animals (or “free range” animals for that matter).
What do you like best about being fit? Sex. Let's face it... when you are Mr. “chunks” it is harder to enjoy sex — from a stamina & self image perspective. Also even more important — energy — too much crappy food makes you tired and turns you into a couch potato drained of energy, working on digestion of garbage ingested... hard to work hard at earning some coin if you are tired as all hell , or need constant coffee to keep you going. What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training? If you don't have a plan, then you are planning to fail — some cliché like that no? I have a workout regime that tells me EXACTLY what I am going to do on my training day.. there is not a second wondering which machine is next, or dabbling around wasting time cruising around the gym. Its all about RAZOR focus SON! Only then can progress be measured by comparing what was done on week one vs week four. This keeps you motivated. Also, if you don't manage your food intake, might as well not even bother working out — if the idea is to look fit, you MUST watch what you eat — keep refined foods low or eliminated — keep greens high and plenty. What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan? My advice is to have them think why they AREN'T vegan — focus on a solution to that obstacle, b/c no matter what mental BS barrier it is, it can be overcome — I am a 26+ year vegetarian, and a15+ year vegan. I am I am thriving- and I am not the only one.
What motivates you in life? Love. I would like to help reduce suffering on this planet & promote Love. What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you? Yes. It is a great site! Do you have any other thoughts you'd like to share? Nothing is more attractive than beautifully fit people who are compassionate and care about the plight of others, including animals, based on the compassionate purchasing decisions that they make with respect to food, clothing and everything else. This thoughtfulness is a great platform / foundation for starting a relationship of mutual respect between two lovers— if a lover is selfless enough to care that much about the impact a buying decision has to some unknown animal, they will certainly care & respect for the person they are in a relationship with. Cheers to all the beautiful vegan people out there who are spreading love throughout the world — they are a testament to God's existence: Love.
Name: Alexander Dargatz Age: 28 Height: 186cm (6'1”) Weight: approx. 86kg at the moment (190lbs) Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany Current Residence: Frankfurt, Germany
Why did you become vegan?
In short: for ethical, ecological, spiritual and healthy reasons (in that order)! *laughs*
I read a couple of good books and realized the ethical implications of eating meat and the countless other ways of abusing animals and nature. It made me cry. There simply is no need for us to consume animal products and we cause a lot of harm by doing so; that is the definition of crime. I couldn't be anything else but vegan after understanding that.
When and why did you become interested in bodybuilding?
I guess that was when I was 16. I had bad knees and wasn't good in most sports, except swimming, but when we did push-ups in school, I was among the best. So I started doing push-ups and sit-ups everyday. After a year or so I added some dumbbells and ultimately I was hooked
I continued to workout in our basement, until I joined a gym nearby at the age of 18. The problems with my knees also vanished when I strengthened my leg muscles, and I was finally able to enjoy other sports such as running and martial arts as well.
I just love bodybuilding! I love working out, I love lifting weights, and I love being exhausted afterwards. I love every aspect about it. That's the way it should be for everyone there's a sport that suits him/her. For me, it's always been Bodybuilding, though I still enjoy others, like swimming and martial arts.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
Program? *laughs* I don't really have a program anymore! I used to be very strict on my diet before becoming vegan, but now I just eat whatever I can find, as long as it is vegan
Nutrition science has always fascinated me and been a hobby long before I started studying.
I have some guidelines, but no actual “program”. I don't eat industrial foods and try to eat as much organic food as possible. I never eat anything that has artificial flavour, preservatives, hydrogenated fat, flavour enhancer or that sort of crap in it. In general, I try to eat fresh and nutritious vegan foods, lots of fruits and veggies, nuts, lentils, seeds and so on, and add protein to it (soy and wheat products). I also enjoy vegan treats, but I try not to eat too many sweets (except self-baked cakes).
How would you describe your training program?
That varies. Some principles stay the same, though. I tend to do too much, so I design programs that prevent me from exaggerating. I do training cycles that last 6-8 weeks, after that I change my program again. I favour whole-body workouts, but I also enjoy split training. I prefer heavy weights, but I know the benefits of high reps also, so I do them both.
What kind of supplements do you use?
Not many, really. I believe supplements are overrated. They can never replace a healthy diet and when youe diet is healthy, you don't need them. At the moment I take only a multivitamin/mineral tablet per day, brewer's yeast and creatine. I'm still not sure about the efficiency of creatine, though. I take it in cycles of 6 weeks. What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
Oh yeah, there are some. Those false ideas keep a lot of people from becoming vegan, that's why it's so important to make the truth commonly known.
One popular wrong notion is that vegans are frail and skinny. *laughs* My power has increased since becoming vegan, especially my endurance, and I almost never get ill anymore. It's true that I lost some pounds, but to most people that would mean no harm
Another misconception is that veganism means to eat only grass and fruits all day. It couldn't be further from the truth! People imagine their usual meal without the meat, the dairy and the eggs, and wonder what's left. But there is a whole new world of taste to discover and savor! I really learned to cook, and nobody could say “No” to my girlfriend's vegan Tiramisu!
What do you think the most important aspect of bodybuilding is?
Patience. Patience and perseverance. Bodybuilding takes time, you cannot force your muscles to grow. You can't make them grow twice as fast by eating twice as much, or working out twice as much. It takes time, persistance, dedication and love of what you're doing.
What do you like best about being vegan?
Everything! I was the best choice I ever made in my life to become vegan! I enjoy every single meal. I also love the communication with like-minded people, people who are compassionate and optimistic. The atmosphere at vegan gatherings is incredible, so peaceful and energetic.
What do you like best about bodybuilding?
Everything! *laughs* Yes, I love it.
I have to think on that, what do I like BEST? Probably the workout itself. I like lifting heavy weights and feeling strong. I like putting up new personal bests.
Another great thing about being a vegan bodybuilder is that you can eat everything without getting fat I love to eat, too, so that pair is really unbeatable! ;D
What are your best muscle groups for bodybuilding and strength.
My upper body, excluding the arms. My chest is my best bodypart, and my lats and abs are okay, too. My shoulders are weakest, followed by calves and every other body part really.
What advice do you have for bodybuilders who are just starting out?
Keep it simple.
As a beginner, you don't need a stack of supplements, a complicated training program and a nutrition plan. Just work out regularly and make sure that you are improving by writing down your training weights in a log.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Don't think about it, do it. I became vegan from one day to the other, I think it's the best way.
For information, search the internet, join a vegan forum. If you want to, there a tons of good books around veganism. If you know people who are already vegan, maybe you can learn from them. And cooking together is fun.
What motivates you to continue to be a successful vegan bodybuilder?
My love to the sport. And I feel the need to prove that vegans are neither frail, nor skinny, nor weak! In every workout I compete against every other bodybuilder on the planet. Meat-eaters and roid-users alike. The former have no advantage on me, the latter I can only pity.
How has the website www.veganbodybuilding.com helped or inspired you?
I always thought I must be the only natural vegan bodybuilder in the world
It's so great to meet the vegans here on the board, joining from all over the world, discussing and chatting. There are quite a few great athletes here, and it motivates me to compete with them as friends. We'll prove true vegan power!
Is there anything else you would like to add about your vegan bodybuilding lifestyle?
Those two things, bodybuilding and being vegan, are the two best things in my life. They define who I am, in body and spirit. That doesn't mean my life is all about my workout and eating, but I find my strength in life in those two aspects.
Veganism is about love and respect to your environment, and bodybuilding is about love and respect to yourself.
Name: Alicia “Diesel” Ziegler Height: 5'5” Weight: 115 Birthplace: Oxnard, Ca Current Residence: Los Angeles Sports: Cross Fit, Running (Marathon), Weight Training Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have. Well, in truth, there are several passions that move me through my life. One of them of course is nutrition and fitness. At an early age, seeing young children that were already obese really got me desiring to learn everything I could to help educate parents on raising their children more health conscious. I have become so charged by the interaction with those looking for a better lifestyle and in turn I always learn more about myself. I am now certified ISSA trainer and looking to deepen my knowledge further. My acting career is another big part of it. Since I was 14 years old I have been auditioning and working as an actress and a model. I love the energy and creativity of film sets, and like my health career, it brings me great joy to be participating in the field. I just shot an episode of Hawaii 5-0 for example and while on the island, I use the energy of new places to motivate my training. In that case I would run the white beaches while sharing my knowledge with an eager film crew (a future book I'm working on, as a matter of fact). My family and friends are of course the overall fuel in my life and having a better relationship, as well as a longer one with them, is part of my incentive.
Why did you become vegan? In grade school, I saw a video on how the meat gets to our plates and was horrified. That started the ball rolling for me and so my first long term vegan experience was at a pretty young age. I stopped again for a while and went back on meat. But as I got into a much more fitness-oriented lifestyle, I began in my research of nutrition to see the benefits of eating vegan again for my athletics. The cleaner fuel along with the slower processing time of the nutrients made for an intelligent choice of diet. So you can say my first go round was more of an animal conscious slash sanitary reaction and my born again approach was founded by my new discoveries via sports.
When and why did you become interested in fitness? At 13, discovering gymnastics and the effects it had on my own personal exhilaration got me thinking about the correlation between fitness and happiness. So as I progressed into high school and read books like Sears' Enter the Zone, I began to make exercise and training a daily part of my existence. Soon it became more than just a routine, but a passion that I read and studied about. I took classes in college as well, educating myself further on all the subjects. How would you describe your nutrition program? Food for fuel. In other words, as much as I love taste, I am very conscious of how my food serves my activity. Is it early in the morning and am I about to work out? That will dictate one kind of meal. Is it late in the evening and I am nearing sleep time? That will require a different set of nutrients. So even though I will still gravitate towards food that I love, it has to still fit into the parameters of what I need in that time frame.
How would you describe your training program? Hard. I pretty much make use of my time when I train rather than turning the gym into a social event or “look at me” exhibition. My workouts are comprised mainly of weights. Probably 80%. I have a pretty high rep with minimal rest routine to keep my calories burning. That means generally planning two exercises for instance that I superset, back and forth. Push ups with triceps extensions, for example, I will do back to back and then maybe between each “set” I'll continue doing knee-highs s to stay active. There is such a science and art to discovering what works for your body, that the gym becomes like a science lab. I also add running into my workouts several times a week. Three to five miles of street running. Yoga and stretching also fits in there to keep my flexibility and circulation healthy. I have begun including martial arts and boxing into my routines as well. I keep learning.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism? That you can't get enough protein and is all high carbohydrate is a common one. I have been training cross fit, even completing an 8-minute plank, all the while surviving on a vegan diet and maintaining all my muscle. You may have to be smarter about your combining and selection since its not as easy as shoveling some chicken into your mouth, but if that is your only concern, you can rest easy. I'm proof. What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with veganism or training? Be patient. Focus on your goals and don't stress about the results. There are times where we struggle and don't achieve the results and goals we are looking for, but through knowledge and time you will start to see the results of a lifetime investment. Forget the quick diets and instant weight loss pills. Look, you are willing to invest money in clothes and cars, but the same work that went into making that money can go right back into your body and you will have lasting results that will survive the fabric and the wheels!
Do you have any other thoughts you'd like to share? Awareness and change takes failure and success. Ask questions. Don't get too focused on the day-to-day change you see, but me more aware of what you feel. The body changes gradually as do all the other effects on your mind and energy. Find people in your life or in the news you can use as inspiration and paste their images or words on a vision board to keep you on track. Just remember why you are doing all this and let yourself know its okay to keep doing it and you have no one else to answer to but your own self.
Name: Alli Breen AKA TheAlliB Age: 37 Birthplace: Montana Current Residence: Portland, OR Sports: Top Pilates Expert, Fusion Master Trainer and Athletic Pilates Training Coach
1. Why did you become vegan? I became vegan because I became allergic to dairy and eggs after the birth of my daughter. I also was displeased with the typical bodybuilder diet. 2. When and why did you become interested in fitness? As a child I was involved in ballet and as I grew older and more interested in pursuing dance professionally I became interested in Pilates. I was 15 when I started Pilates and that was when I was exposed to other types of athletics.
3. How would you describe your nutrition program? Green, clean and balanced with whole foods. If it grows out of the ground I eat it. 4. How would you describe your training program? My training is always form focused whether it is Pilates, Fusion or weight training. I constantly try to mix things up day to day, and week to week. Keeping my mind focused at the task at hand with very precise movement. 5. What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why? I supplement with HealthForce, Warrior Force, Organic Food Bars and RAW Revolution LIVE Food Bars to add in extra protein for training.
6. What are some common misconceptions about veganism? That being a Vegan means you're a radical. That you cannot build muscle or be strong and that you are more susceptible to being sick, that we appear sickly. Also that Vegans live off of Tofu and that we have limited and bland food choices. People don't realize that you can eat junk food and be a Vegan as well. 7. What do you think the most important aspect of fitness is? The most important aspect of fitness is keeping it measureable and motivating. 8. What do you like best about being vegan? Being Vegan makes me feel like I'm living a greener, cleaner and more importantly, a cruelty-free lifestyle. 9. What do you like best about being fit? The thing I like best is having a better ability to cope with stress. It makes me look and feel younger. I like having more stamina to be a better wife and mother. I lost 80 pounds after the birth of my first daughter by being vegan & with pilates fusion! I have lost 20 pounds already and am almost back to pre-baby weight from the birth of my 2nd daughter. I can't stress how important having a Vegan lifestyle and incorporating the Today Is Your Tomorrow Athletic Pilates Monthly Online Training Program have had on my life! 10. What are your strengths as an athlete? I can do abs all day long and jump rope like a boxing champion.
11. What advice do you have for vegan athletes who are just starting out? Stay consistent. Something is always better than nothing. Make small goals to achieve your big goals. Plan the work you set out to do and then work your plan. Keep your eye on the prize. 12. What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan? I would say to make sure that you do things like the following: read books about Veganism, research other Vegans that eat a wholefood plant-based diet and reach out to others that are already on that path. You want to reach out to other Vegans that are living examples of living the type of Veganism you prefer, whether it be RAW food Vegan or Gluten-Free Vegan, etc. Also, to be prepared for the political ramifications of being Vegan, no matter where you stand on the subject. 13. What motivates you to continue to be a successful vegan athlete? By seeing the impact I have on others around me and continuing to make myself a billboard of health and by leading by example to my family, friends and clients. I feel that by living my best possible life, that myself and other vegan athletes, can make the world a healthier place one person at a time. 14. How has the website www.veganbodybuilding.com helped or inspired you? It has given me an outlet for inspiration to live a cruelty-free lifestyle and have my dream body. As well as, being able to log on and receive a daily dose of inspiration. 15. Is there anything else you would like to add about your vegan fitness lifestyle? It is my goal to inspire people to live their healthiest and most productive lifestyles. Part of that equation has been the Vegan bodybuilding website and I just want to say that it is an absolute pleasure to be on the Vegan Bodybuilding website. I consider it an honor to have Robert Cheeke on TheAlliB.Inspiration Podcast Show: http://theallisonbreen.podomatic.com/entry/2011-04-14T01_25_17-07_00.
For more contact information please visit: www.theallib.com.
Name: Amanda Fisher Year of Birth: 10/03/1985 Height: 175cm Weight: 65kg Birthplace: Gold Coast, Queensland Current Residence: Gold Coast, Queensland Sports: Yoga, Body Building — Fitness Modelling, swimming, pilates Social Media: www.facebook.com/bangin.bodz, @banginbodzz — instagram @banginbodz — twitter Website(s): www.banginbodz.com E-mail: [email protected]
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have I am currently a law student/law clerk starting a health and fitness business, Bangin' Bodz. I love law, but I would rather use my law knowledge for altruistic purposes rather than what I see day in, day out in my job. It has left me a bit cynical of “the system”. My passion lies in educating and helping people, especially from a young age to be fit and healthy. I want health to be seen as more than just a number on a scale. I competed in my first fitness model competition in 2013 and want to be more involved in competitions in 2014. I am becoming a bit yoga & meditation crazy and in 2014 one of my goals is to complete my yoga teaching/PT course.
Why did you become vegan? I became vegan because it seemed like a natural progression from vegetarian for me. The more I researched the more disgusting dairy and eggs became! I want to drink puss, no thanks! I initially wanted to become vegetarian when I was 12 years old after a horrendous dinner in a Chinese Restaurant in Sydney (and always having a phobia of bones), however my parents would not allow me. As soon as I left school I was able to make my own decisions and I never ate meat again.
When and why did you become interested in fitness? I have been an active person my whole life, I participated at a State level in both Swimming and Nippers (Surf Life Saving) winning medals. In my late teens/early twenties however other things became a priority and I fell off the wagon. Over the last four years I have been becoming more and more active again, and now work out six days per week, and walk/go to the beach even more. It's just about getting active for me and enjoying what you are doing!
How would you describe your nutrition program? At the moment I am just getting ready to start leaning out for comps in May so I will be starting to cut back and concentrate on what I am eating more. I have however been enjoying lots of raw desserts over the Christmas break. I have been trying to incorporate a lot more raw foods into my diet. I don't like ruling out any healthy vegan “whole foods” even in comp prep as natural foods are full of vital nutrients. I do cut the processed, vegan junk when I am comp prepping. An example of a typical day on comp prep for me is On waking — lemon water followed by a shot of apple cider vinegar Breakfast - Organic oats with 1 scoop vega protein and 1 tsp cinnamon (with water not “milk”) Morning tea — fruit salad with lots of berries Lunch — mixed leafy salad with chickpeas or chia seeds Afternoon tea — celery and carrot sticks or mixed raw nuts Dinner — tempeh, sweet potato and mixed green veggies After dinner — 1 tsp raw, organic peanut butter LOTS OF WATER
How would you describe your training program? I walk pretty much every day. We have an Alaskan Malamute who needs to be active and exercise, so we have to make his health and happiness a priority as well. If he doesn't walk he becomes a bit of a handful so we need to get him out and about to wear him out. I do yoga, pilates barre, a lot of core work (like CX) and weights — 10, 8, 6, 10 — 10 x 1.5. I want to compete in some obstacle course races (OCR) like Spartan next year so I need to start doing some running as well.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why? I use Vega Sport protein powders.
How do people react when they find out you are vegan?| Most people do not realise, I am very passive in my education of veganism. I let people come to me and ask questions, otherwise you just are asking for a fight. Most people are defensive of the way they eat and how that has been ingrained in them for their whole life. People are usually more receptive to change if they are instigating it, not having it rammed down their throat.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism? Where do you get your ......... (insert nutrient/vitamin here)? Why is it that everyone is a nutritional expert as soon as there is a vegan in their presence! It is highly frustrating. Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it? Again, I am not aggressive in my promotion of veganism. I feel it is more effective to allow people to come to me and ask questions. I feel that through my actions as a vegan I have got the people closest to me to minimise their meat and dairy intake which in itself is a small victory. Since I have become vegan I have noticed my partner making different choices, my parents making healthier and alternative choices (my mum makes amazing vegan dishes for me now) and many people around me embracing aspects of the vegan lifestyle. It is those small victories that should be encouraged as it all counts to the bigger picture. In early 2013 I completed my certificate in plant-based nutrition through E-Cornell which has helped me further my education into the health benefits of vegan diets, which in turn has lead to me being able to educate more people in the benefits of being plant based! What do you think the most important aspect of training is? Consistency!
What do you like best about being vegan? The positivity it brings into my life. What do you like best about being fit? Having loads of energy! What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training? Set your goals and get in the right mindset. Realise that failure isn't failure until you give up, the rest is just part of the journey. Embrace it and enjoy it.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan? Research. The worst thing I did was when I first became vegetarian was become a junk food vegetarian. What motivates you in life? The thought of achieving whatever I set my mind to. If I really want something, I know I can work hard and get it.
What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you? I think it is a fantastic resource. When I have got stuck for ideas in my previous meal preps etc. I really benefitted from reading some of the articles and programs from other VEGAN athletes on what they do. Every other site is so skewed to the chicken/rice/veg way that it is impossible to get valuable information from it for a vegan way of life.
Name: Amanda Riester Year of Birth: 1980 Height: 5'2 Weight: 120 Birthplace: Chicago, IL Current Residence: Los Angeles, CA Sports: Boxing, Bodybuilding Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have? I work as a professional animal communicator and teach classes on meditation. I've been volunteering in pit bull rescue for the past 14 years. I am a true believer that nature heals us and I genuinely love and respect Mother Earth! My spiritual beliefs keep me going, my daily meditations give my strength. Other than that, I love spending time with my mom, going to vegan restaurants and thrift stores. My favorite part of my day is always my long walk with my dogs. I think the most important thing in life are the simple moments. When I have a bad day, the one thing that always makes me feel better is laying under the stars and connecting with nature.
Why did you become vegan? I have always been a HUGE animal lover. My first word was "Heidi" - my childhood dogs name. I became a vegetarian in kindergarten after my 11-year-old cousin teasingly told me where meat came from. Although she wasn't a vegetarian, she was just trying to make me cry- it worked! I was horrified at the idea of eating an animal friend and never touched a piece of meat again. I remember being 5 years old asking at restaurants if things were made of meat before I ordered! Although I lived a vegan lifestyle (never wore leather or fur) 4 years ago, I finally got the motivation to cut out all dairy. I read Skinny Bitch and The Ethics of What We Eat, and that sealed the deal for me! When and why did you become interested in fitness? I come from generations of boxers, both of my grandfathers and my father boxed professionally, so I grew up in the sport. My dad began teaching me to box when I was very young, and in 7th grade he signed me up for a womans self defense course/boxing class taught by a very famous female professional boxer. I was completely hooked! By 16 I was fighting in the Golden Gloves and the following year I was fighting at a National Level. At 18 I was ranked #2 in the US and training for the Olympics. (Although I would have made the cut to go to the trails, unfortunitly it never passed as a sport) After over 10 years competing I hung up my gloves and started training others. I became certified as an AFAA personal trainer and ACE group fitness instructor. I am also certified as a USA Boxing coach, judge and officiant. Taking time away from my own competitions and coaching/training others began to bore me, I really missed competing! In April of 2011, I was given The Vegan Bodybuilding Book by a friend and that was it... I soon began competing in bodybuilding. In 2011 I won 1st place at the Natural North America Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships. I took 2012 off for personal reasons, then came back in 2013 and won 1st place once again at thw OCB Midwest States. Im excited to see what 2014 holds for me, as I have some excited goals in both bodybuilding and powerlifting. In addition to my competition experience in boxing and bodybuilding I was on my college wrestling team and have competed in judo and muay thai and trained in jiu jitsu. I absolutely love combat sports!
How would you describe your nutrition program? My bodybuilding cutting diet is very strict. I eat every 3 hours and consume at least 25 grams of lean protein and one green veggie every meal. I eat 6 meals a day, 3 of those meals I also add in a carb source and twice a day I eat berries or an apple. I drink at least 1 gallon of water per day. Homemade seitan is my preference for protein, it has roughly 130 calories, fat and sodium free and 27 grams of protein. I also, really enjoy Garden of Life brand protein shakes post workout. How would you describe your training program? I have to admit, I am a complete gym addict!! Im just a happier person when Im active, so for me its about how I feel more then the vanity of it... as silly as that sounds coming from a woman in a bikini holding a trophy! I train 6 days a week, most if the time twice a day. I do am cardio on an empty stomach for 30-45 minutes. I prefer to jog outside with one of my dogs, but if they aren't up for it, I head to the gym and enjoy hitting the heavy bag or on the Stairmaster. In the evening I head back to the gym for about 90 minutes of heavy weight lifting. I typically lift heavy on legs and light on upper body since my upper body is way more developed then my lower from years of boxing. I also train at a fight gym a few days a week to get in some anaerobic work and release any aggression I may have.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why? I LOVE Garden of Life's "RAW" protein. Its lean, delicious and gives me the post workout protein my body is craving. Their meal replacement is great too for a pre workout since its high in carbs. How do people react when they find out you are vegan? A lot of people are very surprised that I can be as strong as I am on a mostly raw vegan diet. I am very proud to be so strong and so healthy on a meat free diet. I pride myself on being an ambassador for animals! What are some common misconceptions about veganism? The question I get every day is "Where do you get your protein?" I hate that the general public expects vegans to be weak and emaciated because we dont get enough protein. I find it to be the complete opposite. Because I am a vegan, I make an extra effort be sure I am getting enough vitamins, nutrients and proteins. I feel without a doubt, I am so much healthier then the vast majority of meat eating people in the world. Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it? I get a lot of attention from my fit healthy body and high energy workouts, and I use that as a form of activism. So many people come over and ask "whats your secret? You always look so energized and you are so fit!" My answer... "Ive never eaten flesh in my life." That answers always leaves an impact. What do you think the most important aspect of training is? DIET!!!!! Diet is 70% of fat loss, exercise is 30% I was working out twice as long when I was a vegetarian but couldn't lose that extra fat I carried in my midsection. When I cut out the cheese, the fat melted away within weeks. It was astounding! Also the raw greens keep me feeling energized and healthy. I hate preservitives or anything canned or chemically produced. If I cant pronounce it, I wont eat it. What do you like best about being vegan? I love the way my body has transformed. And I can feel comfortable I am doing everything in my power to NEVER contribute to animal suffering. What do you like best about being fit? My weight has fluctuated a lot in my life. I've been a size 0 and I've been a size 14. I love the way it feels to be able to go for a random hike or rock climbing and not be out of breath or stuggle, and like everyone else-- it feels good to be comfortable in my own skin. I hated the time in my life I was so restricted by my own weight, not wanting to wear tank tops in summer or feeling flabby and sluggish. It feels good to just be comfortable with myself and always up for any fun activity. What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training? Take it one day at a time and work at YOUR own pace! Start out with whatever you can do... if its 5 minutes on the treadmill, tomorrow do 5 minutes and 30 seconds. Every day try to improve just a little bit, it will add up in no time! Also, remember to take photos! Every Monday I take a photo of my body to monitor my progress. I find it more effective then monitoring weight since muscle weighs more then fat! As hard as it is to take a photo of yourself in underwear, keep in mind it will only get better from here! If you can afford to, hire a trainer or join a group. Being around others with similar goals really helps, both for emotional support and to push one another during tough workouts. What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan? Read, Read, Read! The more you educate yourself on veganism the easier it will be. Opening your eyes to the reality of the meat industry is difficult, but its the right thing to do! Wearing blinders is easy, but have the courage to educate yourself and not be a bystander in the atrocities of factory farming. Your conscience and body will thank you! And do it not only for moral or ethical reasons, but also for health. There are so many great recipe books on vegan cooking and resources for staying healthy!
What motivates you in life? Being strong for those that cannot fight for themselves. I will always stand up for those in need, and I believe my path in life is to be a voice for the voiceless. I refuse to be weak or succumb to my set backs in life- mentally or physically, and I always want to fight for what I believe in, and I believe in animal liberation. What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you? Roberts book The Vegan Bodybuilding Book is what started me on my bodybuilding journey! The idea of using fitness to generate positive attention for veganism really hit home for me. I have found my body and my athletic abilities to be the most meaningful tool I have to promote the idea of being strong, healthy and vegan. Do you have any other thoughts you'd like to share? I'd love to share my favorite two quotes... "Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that have received--only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage." - Saint Francis " Whether you think you can, or you think you can't-- you're right". - Henry Ford
Name: Amber Sperling Year of Birth: 1989 Height: 5'8” Weight: 140 lbs Birthplace: Saginaw, MI, USA Current Residence: Bay City, MI, USA Sports: NPC bikini competitor, Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate-Do, and strength/endurance training
Social Media: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ARS48415 LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/amber-sperling/53/613/45a Instagram: ginger_ninja89
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have I'm a business professional, bikini competitor, fitness fanatic, and passionate about nutrition. In my free time, I condition my body with strength and endurance training. I also train in Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate-Do, under Renshi Dale Pike and Sensei Richard Middlebrook, who happens to be my boyfriend. Richard has been a large influence in my life; together we foster a healthy lifestyle. In the future, I'd like to become a certified in plant-based nutrition and become a personal trainer.
When I am not constrained by work, the gym, or other routine tasks, I enjoy horseback riding, snowboarding, soccer, traveling and the great outdoors.
Why did you become vegan? When I was sixteen, I tried a vegetarian diet for a year, after watching a PETA film. I was unable to maintain this diet, and resorted back to my original meat based diet.
A little over a year ago, my boyfriend Richard, began researching the benefits of a plant based diet. Coincidentally, at the same time, I picked up a book by Alicia Silverstone, called The Kind Diet. The book served as an informational guide for our transition into a plant based diet. A week later we stopped buying meat, and slowly weaned ourselves off of dairy products, while finding healthy alternatives. The next obstacle was reducing our amount of processed food. Fortunately, there is a really great vegan restaurant near our house with clean food choices.
Ultimately, I chose a plant based diet for my health and the environment. Since adopting a vegan diet I've felt energized, healthy, and I can't remember the last time I was sick. My skin is clear and radiant, my hair is fuller, and my nails are strong. I feel alive!
When and why did you become interested in fitness? I've always been very athletic, and involved in sports as a child. As my mother would say, “You were always muscle bound. Ever since you were three-years-old you were working out!” I didn't commit to fitness until about two years ago, when I first started routinely running for exercise. At first I hated it! But overtime it grew on me, and it became easier. After about six months, I realized my fitness routine had become a lifestyle.
I gradually started easing into strength training last year with my boyfriend's assistance. In late February, I ran into my old college fitness instructor, Peggy Barber, at the gym, and she encouraged me to compete in a fitness competition. This was a pivotal point in my fitness regime. By putting a date on the calendar I was empowered, and motivated to work harder. Within twelve weeks, I was on stage for my first show. I am now in the process of prepping for my second show.
How would you describe your nutrition program? I eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day, and drink a gallon of water a day. I don't eat processed food, my diet consist of whole foods. I always start my day off with a protein shake, oatmeal, and grapefruit. The rest of my meals consist of grains (oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, and TVP), beans and legumes (black beans, garbanzo beans, and lentils), vegetables (carrots, broccoli, spinach, kale, green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, sweet potatoes, squash, ect.), fruit (apples, bananas, berries, grapes, oranges, ect.), nuts and seeds (pecans, walnuts, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds). I also eat tofu; drink unsweetened almond milk, and use oils and spices for cooking. When cutting body fat for a show, I reduce my calorie intake by 300 calories a day, and reduce the amount of fruit in my diet.
How would you describe your training program? I wake up early in the morning before work to do a fasted cardio session, and return to the gym after work for strength training. When I am three weeks out from a competition, I like to do cardio 2-3 times a day to cut fat. During the week days my training session looks like this: 45 minute fasted cardio early in the morning, in the afternoon I will start my workout with a 30 minute cardio session and follow it up with a strength training session, if time permits I will finish with a 30 minute cardio session. During the weekends, I usually go for long runs and do cross fit workouts.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why? I take flax seed oil for a source of essential fatty acids, I also noticed a difference in my skin from taking 3000 mg a day. For a protein powder, I prefer Nutra Summa pea protein, it contains 20g of protein per serving and it offers a superior amino acid profile. This protein is low in calories and sodium, it's also soy, dairy, and gluten free, and has a great taste. I take 5 grams of glutamine twice a day for muscle recovery.
How do people react when they find out you are vegan? Most individuals are intrigued, and curious about my nutrition plan. This gives me the opportunity to communicate the health andenvironmental benefits of a plant based diet.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism? A large amount of individuals are uneducated on this subject matter, and their thoughts are based on what they've been taught their whole lives. As a child, I was raised under the perception that I had to eat meat and drink milk to grow up to be big and strong. Thus, I developed a perception that a person lacking these elements in their diet will grow up to be weak. Many people have this same common view. To the untrained eye there is a misconception that vegans are protein deficient individuals.
Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it? Yes, two colleagues of mine attempted a vegetarian diet. One of the individuals did a vegetarian diet for lent. While another colleague researched the diet, read books, and watched movies on the subject matter, and asked me a lot of questions. He has committed to the diet for a month now. Other individuals I've come in contact with have reduced their meat consumption. I always tell interested individuals to do their homework before starting anything. I provide pointers, references, and support them in their journey.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is? It really comes down to the basics, health and wellness. The presence of health and wellness is based on an individual's lifestyle. Health is the most important aspect of training because it provides you with longevity. Promote a healthy lifestyle by exercising, and eating well. Some of the benefits of regular physical activity include improved mood, weight loss, boost in energy levels, and better sleep.
What do you like best about being vegan? Transitioning into a vegan diet has opened the kitchen doors for me. I've enhanced my cooking skills, and have discovered spices and foods I've never heard of, that taste incredible, and provide optimum health benefits. Fueling your body properly, allows you to perform at your full potential. I've noticed a difference in my outlook on life, I feel happier, more ambitious and healthy. I never feel guilty after gorging myself with a plate of fruits or vegetables. It's a great feeling! Eating a plant based diet provides more than health benefits, it also benefits the environment. Converting to a vegan lifestyle has been enlightening.
What do you like best about being fit? Feeling energized, healthy and confident, having endurance, and being an inspiration for others to achieve their fitness and health goals.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training? Moderation! Ease into the lifestyle, and challenge yourself. Goals are the keys for success, and develop a purpose for your training. Have a goal in mind, and develop a plan to achieve the goal. Enter a competition with yourself, when you enter the gym set a goal and try to go above and beyond it. I am consistently competing with myself in the gym. For instance, I will set a goal to burn 450 calories in 45 minutes. I will get more out of my workout by doing this because I am challenging myself. It is important to challenge yourself, and mini competitions with yourself might be the drive you need to keep you on track. Strive to be the best you! Remember, results don't occur over night and you get what you put in.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan? Research the diet, know your body, and be aware of its requirements. There are some great documentaries available on Netflix. Use this site as a resource in developing a nutrition plan; I know veganbodybuilding.com provides sample meal plans. I also highly recommend using a calorie tracker to monitor your daily intake, and to make sure you are nourishing your body and retaining the required nutrients. You can then gauge your nutrition plan off of the summarized results.
What motivates you in life? I am driven by results, and motivated by challenges. I'm able to achieve my goals by focusing my energy on the desired outcome. I'm also a perfectionist, thus, I am never satisfied with the status quo. In all factors of life, I consistently drive myself to perform above the standard. I take great pleasure in my work, and I am on an endless quest for success.
I've also been blessed with a very a supportive family and group of friends. I wouldn't be the person I am today without their guidance and support. As a vegan body builder, I want to be an example for others on how to build a healthy, lean, and muscular body while sustaining a plant based diet.
What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you? Veganbodybuilding.com has been a fundamental resource in developing my training and nutrition plan. I'd personally like to thank Robert Cheeke, for his article on, vegan body builder's pre-contest diet. I studied this article and used it to form my pre-contest nutrition plan. Rob also put together a great series of training articles on training specific muscle groups. So, thank you veganbodybuilding.com for your resourceful information, and support.
Do you have any other thoughts you'd like to share? Everyone has to start somewhere, and it's never too late to start!
Name: Amber Zuckswert Year of Birth: 1985 Height: 5'9 Weight: 125 Birthplace: Santa Cruz, CA Current Residence: San Francisco, CA Sports: Dance, Pilates, Yoga Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have In a nutshell I'm a professional dancer, pilates instructor, holistic plant based nutrition and lifestyle coach. A minimalist, raw foodie, planet romping gypsy inspiring the world to eat clean and green. I work with clients live and virtually through my website Epicself.com to balance their mind, body and spirit.
Why did you become vegan? I became vegan three years ago after extensive research in nutrition, animal welfare and environmental impact. Once I was aware of the facts I had to change. When and why did you become interested in fitness? My parents put me in ballet at the ripe age of 3 and I haven't stopped since. I've trained, performed and choreographed extensively for the last 23 years. I was introduced to pilates and yoga in college as conditioning for dance and began to teach all three forms shortly after. I cross train in the gym whenever I'm not training on the ballet barre.
How would you describe your nutrition program? After studying traditional chinese medicine, ayurveda, raw foods and superfoods, I've developed a high raw vegan diet that keeps me pumped all day long. I stick to veggies, fruits, seaweeds, nuts, seeds and occasional sprouted grains like quinoa. I eat 5 to 6 small meals per day to fuel my high octane training schedule. How would you describe your training program? A typical day begins in a 1.5 hour dance class. Rehearsals are normally 4 hours in length after class. On non rehearsal days I still take class and hit the mat for an hour of pilates and yoga as a daily maintenance program. I train five days per week at least.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why? I adore healthforce nutritionals vitamineral green and earth products. Chlorella tabs too! I also take a liquid B12 supplement. Vega flax and hemp oils are divine as well. How do people react when they find out you are vegan? They ask lots of questions about protein and my reasons for eliminating animal products.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism? Protein deficiency! People always wonder how I get all of the essential vitamins and minerals. Just because you eat everything doesn't mean you are absorbing all nutrients. Most vegans are well read in nutrition because they have to back themselves up when people ask.
Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it? Leading by example has been the easiest way to make an impact. All I can do is educate people as much as possible and hope it sinks in. I write articles and produce videos for free to spread the word. I work with clients on adding more plants into their lives while weening themselves off animal products. What do you think the most important aspect of training is? Consistency and variety. Consistency is absolutely crucial and variety keeps you interested and challenges the body in new ways.
What do you like best about being vegan? I love knowing that I have a very light foot print on the planet's ecosystem. I also can't say enough about the clear grounded energy I experience daily from my food.
What do you like best about being fit? I love feeling my body from the inside out everyday. Sweating and working all muscle groups. Cleaning out the cobwebs and pushing my physical limits is exhilarating! The more I move the more energy I create.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training? Start slow and stay consistent. Don't over train right out of the gate. Vary your activities so you don't get bored and pick up a fitness buddy who can hold you accountable.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan? Think of it like an experiment. Make the switch for a month . Know that you can always go back to how you ate before, though I highly doubt you'll want to.
What motivates you in life? Life motivates me. I'm grateful for every day and moment. Every day I wake up and can't wait to begin the adventure. The world is endless opportunity and I have no intention of missing out. What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you? It continually inspires me and has connected me with a wonderful community of likeminds.
Do you have any other thoughts you'd like to share? Move, nourish and be your most epic self. Begin now!