Pro vegan fitness model founder of http://www.jackedonthebeanstalk.com
Tell us a little bit about yourself
Well, I am a vegan bikini competitor from Vancouver, British Columbia and it’s been 22 years since I’ve eaten meat or fish!
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 best friends 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!
More info all about my competition here: http://myvega.com/vega-life/vega-blog/jacked-on-the-beanstalk-a-vegan-bodybuilding-adventure/
Why do you follow a plant-based approach?
I grew up in a small “hunting village” 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.
What benefits have you experienced from making the change?
I like to think it enhances my life in every way except at family dinners and BBQs where no matter what, you’re always that “pain in the ass vegan.”
But it’s so true that when you eat healthy, you feel healthy. And when you eat like crap, you feel like crap.
I know this sounds gross but I always had phflegm in my throat when I’d drink milk. Every morning I’d start my workday with a protein shake and one of my co-workers used to always complain that I’d be clearing my throat non-stop for the first couple of hours. Literally as soon as I stopped drinking milk, it went away.
I also think my skin looks better and younger than many other women my age and it’s easy for me to maintain a healthy weight. I definitely have more energy as a vegan and I just can’t help but feel good knowing that everything going into my body is clean, unprocessed and grown from the earth. I tell people all the time “I can be perfectly healthy without consuming any animal products so why would I?”
What are your top 3 tips for individuals wanting make a switch/ depend less on animal products?
I actually just put out an e-book called “Jacked on the Beanstalk: Plant Based Fuel for Vegan Athletes.” It includes a lot of tips and suggestions for vegan athletes!
My top three for those making the switch, however, would probably be…
1) 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.
2) 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.
3) 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!
What is your current training regime?
Pre-competition training means I’m doing cardio six days per week and weights four – five days per week. Right now, I’m not in crazy competition mode so I’m doing both cardio and weights every second day which works out to four days of exercise and three rest days per week. I do 20 minutes – half an hour of cardio in the morning and about an hour of weights in the afternoon or evening. My current weights program is an upper/lower body split. So I’ll do upper body one day then lower body the next but I switch my program every six weeks or so.
Could you give us a sample meal plan for your average day?
I actually just put out an e-book called “Jacked on the Beanstalk: Plant-Based Fuel for Vegan Athletes.” It’s $10 (USD) and incudes a sample meal plan from when I was about 10 weeks out from competing. I also share my favourite spice combinations, a grocery list and 20 recipes. How was that for a shameless plug? 😉 You can buy it here: https://gumroad.com/l/Jacked
Generally-speaking in terms of diet, I eat a lot of tempeh and protein powder for protein. I get my starchy complex carbs from sources like yams, squash and oatmeal. And for fats, I love my almond butter and coconut oil!
What was a major physical/ emotional challenge you faced and how did you triumph over it?
Hands-down the last few weeks of competition dieting is a challenge both physically and mentally. When you’re eating a bare minimum amount of calories combined with a LOT of exercise, you’re going to be hungry (or as my friends like to call it HANGRY!!) Because my fat intake was so low, I was craving peanut butter like it’s nobody’s business! Being able to resist the temptation to eat is one of the most intense, brutal tests of self-control I’ve ever had to face. It teaches you self-discipline like you wouldn’t believe! There were many times I gave into the temptation and there were many times I was stronger than it.
I also puked on a bus once and all over the guy sitting next to me. That was by far, the most embarrassing moment of my life.
What do you value in your life?
Whoa that’s a pretty serious question! Hmm well the first thing that comes to mind is my family. I am truly blessed with the greatest parents on Earth and the coolest siblings anyone could ask for. We are a very close family. I respect them greatly and feel truly blessed to have them.
Second, my respect and love for animals and all the creatures we share this world with. I will always do my part to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
My health is very important to me. I always listen to my body and believe in feeding it nutrient-dense food, getting regular physical activity but also treating it regularly too. Although competition dieting is very restrictive and yes, even unhealthy, I would not do it if my body was telling me not to.
And on that note, I truly value living life to the fullest and never being scared to try new things and get out of your comfort zone. If I believe in something, I make it happen. I love and openly embrace change ALWAYS.
And finally, it’s also important to me that when I die, people remember me and say, “Gad, that Samantha Shorkey had one hell of a great name.”
What are 3 empowering beliefs that propel you?
1) “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Gandhi (also tattooed down my ribs.)
2) “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda (my favourite Halloween costume.)
3) “When you do things from your heart, other people really dig that shit.” – some dude on Instagram named @quacks987
What is your next goal?
BC Championships next June 2014 then hopefully Nationals in August!
How would you like to inspire others?
I want people to stop associating vegans with being skinny and unhealthy. I want people to know that they can be healthy and not contribute to the pain, suffering and death of animals. I want to show the world just how “Jacked on the Beanstalk” I can get. And convert millions to veganism along the way.
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?
I wish slaughterhouses didn’t exist. Or I at least wish that every meat eater could smell, hear and see what happens inside a slaughterhouse just once. I strongly believe that the world would be a different place if everyone had to kill the cow before they cooked it.
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)?
Take part in “Meatless Mondays” and try going vegan for that one day every week! Experiment with cooking new foods or trying a new restaurant. Your health and your conscious will thank you J
How are you Evol’ved?
I “awaken” every morning with a glass of lemon water to alkalize my body, cleanse and hydrate me.
I “connect” religiously with vegans and the vegan-curious daily via the wonderful world of cyberspace.
I “inspire” because I’m just a regular vegan chick doing my vegan thang. And if this interview didn’t melt your heart even just a little, well then I guess I’m not much of an inspiration.
What is one of your favorite recipes?
Oooh that’s tough! Okay I’ll pick a favourite, healthy dessert from my e-book! It’s a little raw fruit pie and it’s delish: http://theveganproject.ca/easy-guilt-free-raw-vegan-pear-pie/
How can you be connected?
Facebook fan page is www.facebook.com/JackedontheBeanstalk
Twitter handle is @SamanthaShorkey
Instagram is @samshorkey