1. Why did you decide to become vegan? What influenced you?
I don’t think I ever really ‘decided’ to become vegan. I had made the transition from eating meat to no more red meat, to no mammals, to no meat at all. It was a very natural and quick progression. I kept researching and finding out new horror stories which I countered by finding new faux meat, cheese, chocolate etc until eventually one day I sort of stopped and thought..well I guess I’m vegan now – that was easier than I thought!
Admittedly I was quite apprehensive about veganism. Even when I started cutting back on meat I still remember thinking being a vegan was so extreme and that I’d never be one of those ‘crazies’. I’d always been an ‘animal’ person. I grew up on a quarter horse stud and small farm and was so intrigued by all the animals. I would spend as much time as I could playing with my four legged pals. Needless to say I was quite oblivious to what lie ahead for many of them. What initially sparked my first light bulb moment was when I met a pig named Chester. He was a great kune kune pig who resided at the Auckland SPCA where I worked casually at the time in 2007. When I’d have breaks I would go down to the farm section and call out to him and feed him apples. He would always come when you called him, sit, lie down, roll over just as the dogs I’d trained would do. It didn’t take me long to connect the dots on that one. How on earth could I justify eating Chester when I would never dream of eating a dog or cat?
Shortly after this I was handed a pamphlet on the street about the factory farming of pigs – that was it. No more pork on my fork! Following this I stumbled across a link to the documentary Earthlings (THE BEST DOCUMENTARY EVER..if I might say) and my world turned upside down. I had never been so horrified in all my life. The way I looked at animals and what was on my plate would change forever.
Not only did it show the grim reality of what happens to farm animals, animals used in experiments, animals in entertainment, the pet industry and so forth but it made some highly logical and simple points about the way we think about animals and justify their ‘use’ for our supposed benefit. I finally made the connection and realised that farm animals are individual, sentient beings – that each calf or piglet experiences pain and joy just as vividly as any puppy or kitten.
2. There are many health benefits we can derive from the vegan diet. Has going vegan improved your health and well being and in what ways?
Definitely! I was a bit of a lard ball in my early high school days followed by patches of becoming extremely slim (though I’ve come to terms with the fact genetics have endowed me with chicken legs for life!) Even though I was always generally quite active during those years I by no means ever reached my true potential. I would always feel quite heavy and weighed down. Now, as a vegan, I am without a doubt fitter than I’ve ever been before. It has put a new bounce in my step. I feel as though I now know what it is to be living a truly healthy lifestyle. I truly feel lighter, fitter and healthier for it – both mentally and physically.
3. What is your current fitness regime and your favourite sports?
Currently I train at the gym on average 3-4 times a week, occasionally 5 times. This usually consists of a heavy split weight training program and/or rock climbing (I go to a rock climbing gym). I aim to climb at least twice a week. I also play in a touch football competition usually once a week which is heaps of fun! Hoping to pick up playing tennis socially again and I’m also learning to salsa!
4. Do you have a favourite recipe that replenishes your body after a workout?
My chocolate banana peanut butter protein smoothie always hits the spot!
1 cup soy milk (sometimes use rice or oat milk or the choc bliss soy milk for an extra chocolate hit)
1 tbs natural peanut butter
1 scoop chocolate NitroFusion protein powder (made from brown rice, pea and artichoke protein)
Blend all the ingredients.
Or if I’m not feeling as glutinous I might go for a super greens drink such as Vital Greens with a scoop of protein powder in water with a small serve of fresh fruit or goji berries.
5. If animals could talk, what do you think they would say to people that think it is acceptable to eat meat and consume dairy products?
Simply “Put yourself in my shoes” or maybe that should be “put yourself in my hooves” either way I believe they would say something along the lines of comparison, “I am you only different. See yourself in others then who can you harm?” or perhaps even more bluntly, “leave me the hell alone you brainwashed, unweaned hairless gorilla” or “For the sake of some little mouthful of flesh or udder secretion would you cut short my life after denying me the sun on my back, the ground beneath my feet, the freedom to move and the right to motherhood?”
6. Do you have any goals in terms of helping animals and spreading the vegan message? Are you involved in any projects currently?
Absolutely! As a qualified personal trainer I’m planning to start working on creating an Australian based website that delivers online personal training programs (as well as one-on-one training in the Sydney area) and nutritional tips to help create and inspire people to adopt a vegan lifestyle and to dispel the vegan = string bean wimp myth. I’m hoping to create a sense of drive and passion into other vegans to be the best that they can be physically. We are all walking billboards for veganism and for animals everywhere. By being a fit, strong and healthy vegan you instantly pacify many of the misconceptions people have about veganism and people will often be even more intrigued by your diet.
The aim is to also create an online store which delivers nation wide which will stock a range of different vegan health and fitness products all in the one spot for the health and fitness conscious vegan. It’s not all up and running just yet but if anyone’s interested in learning more, starting their own program or interested in training with me they can contact me via email@example.com
7. Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by the mistreated and abused animals I’ve cared for, that after all their grief and turmoil they still looked up at me with hope and loyalty, clucking, oinking or wagging their tails with joy. This sort of unconditional love, gratitude and forgiveness I believe to be the most admirable characteristic of all. A trait we as a species have failed to grasp. As for the people who inspire me I must say I’m a big Anthony Robbins fan. I love the work he does and the passion, drive and commitment he has for it. He is an inspiration. He also has some great health information in what he teaches as a vegetarian himself.
A vegan idol and inspiration of mine I think would have to be Robert Cheeke. Someone who has transformed himself and dedicated so much of his life to being the best he can be, ultimately becoming one of the most well known vegan athletes/body builders there is. I’m also incredibly inspired by the numerous men and women I see who continue to work tirelessly for the animal rights cause in so many various ways. Those tireless campaigners, organizers, care takers and volunteers are truly dedicated people. And last but certainly not least, what keeps me motivated on spreading the word about animal rights and veganism is when I’m leafleting and I hear all the “get a life”, “who cares” and/or “you’re a moron” etc comments and then I have someone who comes back and says “Wow, I never knew this was happening. Thank you” or “What you’re doing makes a difference”. That sticks with me.
8. What is upcoming for you for the rest of this year and in 2011?
My main focus for the rest of this year is getting Mean Green Personal Training off the ground and out to the masses to help other vegans transform themselves into mean green fighting machines! I’m also dedicated to further educating myself in the field of fitness and nutrition as a result. A personal goal for myself before the year is out is to start rock climbing competitively. Into 2011 I expect to see myself further developing the business and as a result enabling to dedicate more time and money to animal rights charities. I’m also likely to be hitting the shore of the US late this year or early next year to visit my mum and also explore the realms of vegan fare in places such as Portland, LA and New York. I’m hoping that will give me some inspiration and ideas as I would also love to start my own vegan café one day.
9. Please share any inspiring thoughts with us about your vegan lifestyle.
Going vegan has to be one of the simplest and easiest things anyone can do to better your health, the environment and literally save lives. You need not be a rocket scientist. I honestly have felt much more at peace with myself since going vegan. Once being of the tone “I like animals, but I love meat” – which was clearly hypocritical – to cutting out all animal products has given me a real sense of one with myself. A true sense of purpose, a clear conscious and made me a more vibrant and healthy person.
Thank you Fawn!