As a teenager, I made the decision to adopt a vegan diet when I learned about the cruelty and suffering involved in raising animals for food. As an elite athlete I knew I had a responsibility to find a balance between a diet that aligned with my values and beliefs and still allowed me to train and compete at an optimal level.
As a result of all of my research into a vegan plant-based diet, I became more convinced that veganism was the right choice for me. I learned that not only could I maintain strength and stamina as an athlete on a vegan diet, but that my health could actually improve and consequently so could my performance and my ability to recover. On top of the animal cruelty issues and the health benefits associated with veganism, I also became aware of the positive environmental impact that a plant based diet can have.
I’m currently writing a book on veganism with my friend and former teammate Amy Walsh. It will provide everything you need to know about becoming vegan, being a vegan athlete, AND since Amy was vegan throughout her pregnancy and is now raising her beautiful baby boy vegan - we’ll also include chapters on vegan pregnancy and veganism for kids! There will be a ton of our favourite recipes to get you started and on your way.
We’re really excited about the book and can’t wait to share everything we’ve learned in our 35 years of combined vegan/vegetarian knowledge and experience with you.
In the meantime though, here’s a little tidbit on my journey as a vegan.
Being vegan is not about deprivation for me. I never feel like I’m missing out on anything and I’m definitely not starving! It’s not like a weight-loss diet where you’re denying yourself of all of your favourite things. I don’t look at a steak and wish I could have just one bite - in fact, I don’t really look at steak and other animal products as food at all anymore. It’s not hard to turn down ice-cream or chicken wings when your reasons for doing so are based on beliefs as opposed to being motivated by something like weight-loss. Saying “no thank-you” is easy when deep down you really and truly don’t want that meatloaf. The trickiest part is trying not to offend the proud chef!
…Which leads me to my next point - that veganism is also not about being judgmental. Only a handful of my friends are vegan. Not a single member of my family is even vegetarian, and no - I do not get grossed out when someone I’m with orders a cheeseburger in front of me. After all, I grew up in a house-hold where a glass of milk was preferred over water any day, almost every-meal was prepared on the barbeque (even if there was 3 feet of snow outside!) and ice-cream was served out of salad bowls. Who am I to criticize anyone for eating meat, when only 7 years ago my favourite meals were my dad’s barbeque ribs and my mom’s pork-chops?!
I definitely try to encourage my friends and family to be open to healthy plant-based foods - simply out of concern for the health of those I love. But I would never try to push a vegan diet on anyone. The choice to be vegan is a very personal one. I’ve learned that rather than preaching or pushing someone, the best thing to do is bake them a delicious, cruelty-free vegan cupcake and wish them happiness and health!
Vegan Donut…possibly the tastiest thing in the world…
People often ask me how I manage to maintain a vegan diet while on the road. They often say “It must be really hard to be vegan with all of the traveling you do.” And the biggest question I get is: “How do you get your protein?”
What many people don’t realize is that animal protein is not the only source of protein out there. Nuts, seeds, grains, hemp, beans, legumes and even greens all contain significant amounts of protein. There are a number of different vegan protein powders on the market and I usually make at least one or two shakes a day. (Look out for some of my favourite smoothie recipes on the site!) Vegetable proteins also don’t contain any saturated fat or cholesterol and are much more easily digested than animal proteins. Once in a while I use artificial meat products like soy-protein veggie burgers or sausages when fresher, more natural sources of protein aren’t readily available. But I try not to eat too much of the imitation stuff as it’s often quite processed and high in sodium. A general rule for me is the less ingredients the better. Food in its most natural state is the easiest to digest and the most nutrient dense, so I try to east as much raw, organic food as possible.
There are so many fad diets and so much misinformation out there with very little substantial evidence - that it’s extremely important to do your own research and determine your own conclusions. Ignorance is NOT bliss - especially when your health and the health of the planet are on the line. Seek out information. Question authority. Make informed decisions that serve you so that you can better serve the world.
Peace and Love!
For more information on veganism visit Vegan Action and the Vegan Society
Some of my favourite books are:
- The Thrive Diet - Brendan Brazier
- The Kind Diet - Alicia Silverstone
- Skinny Bitch - Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
- Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule - Isa Chandra and Terry Romero
- Gorgeously Green - Sophie Uliano
- Eating Animals - Jonathan Safran Foer
Some documentaries that I like are:
- Food Inc.
- Forks Over Knives
- The Corporation
© Copyright 2011 Kara Lang; All Rights Reserved.