Co founder of Plantbuilt and veganproteins.com
Tell us a little bit about yourself
Hi There! My name is Dani Taylor and I’m a 28 year old vegan personal trainer. I am the co-owner of VeganProteins.com and the co-founder of the vegan competitive athlete team Plant Built. I was overweight through my entire childhood and adolescence, and just always believed that’s just the way I was “meant to be”. After adopting an ethical vegan diet, 30 pounds just fell off me, and for the first time in my life, I realized that I did have the power to change the way I looked and felt. I began lifting weights and doing cardio, but felt lost when it came to my diet. Every trainer I spoke to told me that I wouldn’t be able to achieve my goals without eating animal products, you know, for protein. I drowned myself in research and what I learned gave me the full confidence that I could easily achieve my goals on a vegan diet. I lost another 50 pounds and completely re-shaped my body. Suddenly, people were asking me how I did it, and I realized that I wanted to help other people change their lives as well!
Why do you follow a plant-based approach?
My answer now, is much different than it was ten years ago, but originally, my reason for adopting a vegan diet was very simply because I love animals and did not want to eat them. I had been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for about 5 years, and never understood these “extreme” vegans and their disdain for dairy and eggs. One day when I was 17 years old though, I stumbled across a website that very clearly explained the connection of the dairy and egg industry to the meat industry and the cruelty that dairy and eggs entail, and that was it. I went vegan overnight and never looked back.
What benefits have you experienced from making the change?
Immediately after going vegan, I lost about 30 pounds, without even trying and realized for the first time in my life that I was capable of being healthy. Over the years, my health has shot through the roof. I was a very sickly child and always had various infections—no more. I rarely get sick and I have the energy to workout hard 6 days a week. My blood-work is always stellar at every doctors appointment, and I have lowered my body fat from about 45% to 15%, all while building a significant amount of muscle and strength.
But on another note, I just feel better every day knowing that I am not contributing to an industry of suffering and helping other people to do the same.
What are your top 3 tips for individuals wanting make a switch/ depend less on animal products?
1. Make sure you are eating enough. Many people fail because they don’t know what to eat, so they end up not eating enough and feeling crummy. Fill up on beans, grains, fruits, nuts and of course, VEGGIES!
2. Reach out. The vegan community is large and very active, especially on the internet. Reach out if you have questions, or even just need some support. People are always looking to help.
3. Never forget why you’re making the switch. After a while, being plant based becomes second nature, but at first, like making any lifestyle change, it has it’s challenges. Remember your reasons for wanting to make the change and remind yourself often. It only gets easier as you keep going.
What is your current training regime?
I lift heavy weights 5 days a week with the following schedule: Back/Abs, Quads/Calves, Biceps/Triceps, Shoulders/Chest, Hams/Glutes. I change up the muscle pairings, rep ranges and rest times every 8 weeks or so.
Depending on the time of year, cardio varies a LOT! If I am in a muscle building phase, I do not do cardio, at all. If I am cutting for a competition, I do a mixture of HIIT and steady state cardio up to 6 days a week.
Could you give us a sample meal plan for your average day?
Currently I am cutting for a competition and my regular day looks something like this:
½ c. oats
1 c. berries
1 scoop Raw Fusion protein powder in water
5 oz high protein tofu
6 oz sweet potato
2 c. broccoli
6 oz tempeh
2 c. green beans
1 scoop Plant Fusion protein in water
2 Tbl natural peanut butter
1/3 c. blueberries
6 oz high protein tofu
2 c. kale or collards
I also drink at least a gallon of water a day, every day.
What was a major physical/ emotional challenge you faced and how did you triumph over it?
I have been battling PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) and endometriosis since the age of 11, although it wasn’t diagnosed until a few years ago. Although there is not cure for either of these, I have found that my lifestyle has warded off many of the symptoms that make it easy to recognize, such as being overweight, as PCOS is also a metabolic disorder that makes losing weight incredibly difficult.
I still deal with pain from time to time, but compared to so many of the horror storied I’ve hear, I feel very lucky to be able to function as well as I do, and I attribute much of that to my diet, training, and my attitude that nothing can stop me. Once you allow yourself to get into a powerless mindset, you are, in fact, powerless. My dilligence has allowed me to prove just about everything my doctors have predicted thus far, wrong.
Competing in figure competitions will just be another thing that they said I couldn’t do. 😉
What do you value in your life?
I value integrity, discipline and a good work ethic. But above all else, I value my relationships with family and friends. Without love, we’re nothing.
What are 3 empowering beliefs that propel you?
1. We are not helpless, we create our reality.
2. What you want to do the least, is probably what you should do the most.
3. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.
What is your next goal?
I am getting ready for our big PlantBuilt show in Austin Texas, while also training several other vegan competitors. I’d love to place!
How would you like to inspire others?
I’d like to inspire people to realize that you don’t need animal products to achieve a certain physique. The fitness industry is SO meat and dairy centric, that it is status quo to be eating animal products (and not much else) all day long in order to achieve a muscular, lean body. Any deviation from that makes people shake their heads and say “impossible”. I would like for myself, and my PlantBuilt teammates, to make people re-think this theory. Many people have come around to the idea that you can be healthy and be vegan, but we’re still a long way from people believing you can be healthy and STRONG and FIT as a vegan.
If there was one thing that you would like to change in the world, what would that be and why is this important to you?
If there was one thing that I would like to change in the world, it would be that we, as humans, stop eating animals. I feel like this would solve so many of the world’s problems that it seems like a no-brainer. I dream of seeing this come to fruition in my life time.
What is the one idea that you can give to others to contribute to a positive change (on a personal level or the world at large)?
Be kind. You never know who could use a kind word.
How are you Evol’ved (along the lines of our manifesto: awaken, connect and inspire)?
I hope to live my life in a way that helps other people find their true passions, succeed, and do so while living in line with their values.
What is one of your favorite recipes?
This is very simple, but I still love it and eat it several times a day. It is my favorite way to make tofu, and I know a lot of people struggle with cooking tofu in a way that isn’t soggy without frying it. Well, this is it!
Get the firmest tofu you can find, and slice it into thin rectangles or triangles (about 1 cm thick). Lay them out on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet with a little space in between them. Here, you can add whatever seasonings you like. I like nutritional yeast, with garlic and onion powder OR Siracha hot sauce.
Bake at 450 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, checking regularly for your desired texture.
How can you be connected?