Name: Samantha Shorkey
Year of Birth: 1982
Weight: 125 lbs
Birthplace: Ottawa, Ontario (Canada)
Current Residence: Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)
Sports: Strength Training/ Fitness Competitor (Bikini Division)
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have.
An important recent event in my life was not only competing (and WINNING) in my first-ever amateur bodybuilding competition (bikini division) but spreading the message of vegan activism through a local project called Jacked on the Beanstalk: A Vegan Bodybuilding Adventure. It was basically a five-day road trip that followed me and my three friends (the women already well-known on Vancouver's 'vegan' scene as the founders of The Vegan Project) on a journey through rural, “carnivorous” Northern British Columbia, as we aimed to break the stereotypes that all vegans are skinny, protein-deficient and unhealthy. And break them we sure did because I took home a first place trophy for my division! I'm blessed to have been sponsored by Vega and am excited to compete on a provincial level next at the BC Provincial Championships in June 2014. For anyone interested, I'll be posting about the road trip and sharing vegan competition tips, recipes & advice on my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JackedontheBeanstalk.
Why did you become vegan?
I grew up in a small “hunting town” outside of Ottawa, Ontario in a log house in the middle of the forest. We didn't have cable TV, we had nature. My mom was my biggest hero, always feeding the birds, raccoons & deer, taking in stray cats and even raising orphaned baby squirrels. Sometimes we would have 30 deer behind our house and it would literally break our hearts to see them disappear every fall when hunting season was on. I just couldn't understand how people could hunt and kill such beautiful, sweet creatures. So at the tender age of eight, I became vegetarian. I went vegan in 2011 when I learned more about the dairy industry and realized that animals were still dying because of my milk and egg consumption.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I'd always enjoyed going to the gym but I didn't get serious about weight training until I dated a personal trainer for four years. I suppose I've always been quite strong and healthy because people were always surprised to hear that I didn't eat meat. Their constant questioning of my diet inspired me to not only want to impress them with an above-average “healthy-looking” appearance but to blow their minds when they see just how “Jacked on the Beanstalk” I can get!
How would you describe your nutrition program?
Competition dieting is so HARD! I have a big sweet tooth so not eating all my favourite raw, vegan desserts & treats has been tough for sure! But I'm making sure to get lots of protein to fuel my training from quinoa, beans, spinach, tempeh & tofu. My healthy fats come from flax oil, olive oil and Vega EFA oil. I eat tons of veggies, a moderate amount of fruit (in the morning only) and I love Vega Sport protein powder. I also drink matcha green tea or yerba mate for an energy boost before my workouts.
How would you describe your training program?
Pre-competition training means I'm doing cardio five days per week and weights four days per week. Sundays are my rest days and the day I also try to prepare all of my meals for the week. Being prepared is so important! It not only frees up more of my time but it prevents me from cheating on the diet BIG TIME!
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
Well we all know the big “protein” misconception that people still seem to have so I won't even go there! I think a lot of people also think that buying “free range” eggs or “organic” meat from a farm somehow justifies the killing and treatment of the animals they're consuming. At the end of the day, they are STILL being slaughtered. And “free-range” does not necessarily mean they're wandering free, only that they have access to the outdoors. I think a lot more people would consider a vegan diet if they actually saw first-hand how their meat gets from the farm to their plate.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with veganism or training?
I always suggest baby steps first. If you're a meat eater, try going vegetarian first or incorporate just two or three vegan meals into your diet every week. And if you're already vegetarian, try to only eat vegan at home and allow yourself cheese or milk when you're dining out or as a “special treat” only. That's how I began the transition from vegetarian to vegan and I found it was quite easy. Also, there are so many vegan options available nowadays that anyone can replace common comfort foods like cheese or milk with a dairy-free substitute. I try not to eat a lot of processed foods but the fake meat products are yummy substitutes for people in the transition phase.
As for those starting a vegan training regimen, try to ensure you're getting 99% of your nutrition through whole, plant-based foods. Yams for instance, are a wonderful starchy, complex carbohydrate source that will help get you through those long, hard workouts. And watch the sugar & sodium contents of your foods. They can be very bloating! And lastly remember that it's super easy to be an unhealthy, overweight vegan too. Everything in moderation. One bad meal isn't going to make you fat just like one good meal isn't going to make you fit J
A lot of people will question your ethics and lifestyle and sometimes you will feel like a pain-in-the-you-know-what because of your dietary restrictions. But every time you think it's difficult, just imagine how much harder it is for the animals that you're NOT vegan!