Founder of veganmuscleandfitness.com
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I live in Richmond Virginia where my wife Marcella and I operate our personal training studio Root Force Personal Training. We have our website Vegan Muscle and Fitness, where we blog and coach clients online. I am also a competitive bodybuilder and have placed first in three competitions, the most recent being the 2013 Naturally Fit Super Show in Austin Texas last year on Team Plantbuilt.
Why do you follow a plant-based approach?
I’ve been vegan since 2007, when I can across the first compelling evidence I had ever encountered discussing the dangers of consuming animal products. Prior to that time I was an enthusiastic meat eater and had also grown up deep sea fishing. As I’ve learned more about the health, environmental, and ethical impacts of the food choices we make I’ve grown ever more certain that a plant-based diet is optimal and that eating this way has the single greatest positive impact we can make on the world.
What benefits have you experienced from making the change?
Plant-based nutrition has benefited virtually every aspect of my life. Within weeks of making the switch I noticed my energy was up, my strength, performance, and recovery from training were all improved, and I dropped about 8-10lbs of what was formerly stubborn body fat, with no effort! Since then I’ve learned how wasteful and detrimental it is to consume animal products for everyone and everything, and I’ve really come to appreciate the opportunity I have to help others improve their lives by using myself as an example.
What are your top 3 tips for individuals wanting make a switch/ depend less on animal products?
- Go cold turkey for 30 days and see how you feel and how your body responds. A lot of people suggest making gradual changes and finding your own best balance, and while that may work for a lot of people I think the contrast of immediately getting all those detrimental and addictive foods out of your system can be huge motivation. That’s how I made the change.
- Processed foods like fake meat and/or cheese are fine for making the transition, but over time strive to eat as much whole food as possible
- A common problem I see with vegans in under eating. If you’re new to eating whole plant foods, you may not realize how much less calorie dense they are than the foods you used to eat. Give your body plenty of calories and nutrition to perform by eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.
What is your current training regime?
Like most bodybuilders, I weight train 5 days per week, working each muscle group once or twice per week on its own day. On the remaining two days I do cardio (usually running or swimming) and recover. When I am preparing for a contest I will add one or two cardio sessions every day to burn extra body fat and get really lean. I will also reduce both total calories and my percent calories from fat.
My current schedule looks like this:
Friday: Repeat 3 workout days and 1 rest/cardio day cycle
Could you give us a sample meal plan for your average day?
My daily meal plan varies based on whether I’m trying to bulk up or get lean, but I’m currently eating 6 meals, oat bran and a fruit smoothie for breakfast, a whole food shake (beans, oats, seeds, fruits, spinach, and soymilk) for my morning and afternoon snacks, a green salad, bean and whole grain based entree for lunches and dinner, and a protein shake post-workout. I’m eating around 5000 calories per day, with almost all of it coming from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
What was a major physical/ emotional challenge you faced and how did you triumph over it?
I can’t think of a major emotional challenge, but physically I’ve dealt with several major injuries in my athletic career. Struggling to stay focused and positive while recovering for injuries is always a challenge, but I think it’s something every athlete deals with at some point.
What do you value in your life?
My favorite quote is “All true wealth is biological”, and that is exactly my value system. Nothing is more important to me than the health and happiness of those I care about.
What are 3 empowering beliefs that propel you?
1) All wealth is biological: Health, loved ones, life, nature
2) Set a positive example for others to follow
3) Do the things that matter most to you – you only live once!
What is your next goal?
I want to continue to set a positive example and create as much positive change in the world as possible. I also want to learn to live more sustainably, and of course I want to be the best father I can be.
How would you like to inspire others?
In leading by example I strive to show others they can accomplish any goals they have with plant-based nutrition. Nothing can have a larger impact on our world than changing people’s eating habits, so that is my drive.
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?
Like I mentioned above, I would change people’s eating habits. This would have a huge impact on health, the environment, and animals.
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 a role model. If you change your eating habits for the better and start to look and feel healthier, people around you will notice. Every person out there influences those around them, so be an influence for positive change.
How are you Evol’ved (along the lines of our manifesto: awaken, connect and inspire)?
Through nutrition, really. Once I was awakened to the harms of the standard diet, I changed it. Since then, I’ve connected with countless awesome people through communities such as Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness and Plantbuilt.
What is one of your favorite recipes? (Include a pic of the finished product)
One of my favorite simple meals that I will eat daily during contest prep is a Japanese sweet potato, red lentil dal, and a blackened tofu salad. So good!
How can you be connected? (Blog, website, facebook, etc)
@veganmuscle on Twitter