Meet Claire and Maddi, vegan athletes. Claire is a senior in high school, and Maddi is a sophomore. Both are competitive figure skaters that train and condition regularly. And both have made the life-changing decision to not consume animal products, to go vegan.
How long have you been vegan?
Claire: Three years.
Maddi: Since September 20, 2017, so a little over a year.
What influenced your decision to go vegan?
Claire: Before I went vegan, I already faced dietary restrictions due to lactose intolerance, which was an influence to my choice. However, my ethical beliefs also influenced my decision.
Maddi: I had a lot of different influences. The first being Claire, who had first introduced me to veganism, and the second being wanting to improve my skating and overall health. Once I did more research on veganism, I started doing it for ethical reasons, as well.
How has your life changed since you went vegan?
Claire: I have become a lot more aware of what I eat and no longer care as much about what others think about my decision.
Maddi: It’s changed my life for the better. I’ve learned a lot about food and what is actually good and bad for me. A lot of people seem to think that when you are vegan you can’t eat out because restaurants don’t have food for vegans, which I have learned is definitely not the case. So that aspect of my life has not changed much if any. Lastly, I have learned to think for myself and not worry about what other people think.
Have you noticed a difference in your health?
Claire: I have absolutely felt a difference in my health. I have a lot more energy, and in general, I feel stronger.
Maddi: I still get tired but I have way more energy. Also, I feel less bloated after I eat.
How has becoming vegan affected your athletic life?
Claire: Becoming vegan was the best thing as an athlete! I have found my recovery time is much faster now, and I just feel so much better in general.
Maddi: I have noticed a huge improvement in my skating. I had way more energy and endurance. I also started sleeping better which helped me with training and mental health overall.
What are some of the difficulties you’ve faced?
Claire: Eating out has been a slight difficulty. Also, facing judgement from my family members and sometimes strangers too.
Maddi: The biggest struggle is dealing with family, friends, or even strangers that don’t understand or respect my lifestyle. Having to deal with this almost everyday has taught me that I can’t make everyone understand or agree with what I am doing, but I can still do what I think is best for my own health and the world around me.
Explain how you have adapted your daily life.
Claire: I always make sure to have vegan food stocked up and let new people that I know that I have dietary restrictions. I definitely cook all of my food now as well.
Maddi: I started packing my own lunch every day for school and I always check the ingredients of items before I eat or buy them.
How do you order from restaurants?
Claire: Normally when I order from restaurants I’ll pick an already vegetarian item, or I’ll ask the waiter if I can get my item without dairy or other animal products. Most restaurants are very accommodating and don’t mind at all! After all, they are there to serve you.
Maddi: Ordering from restaurants is really not that difficult. I will typically choose an item on the menu with the least amount of non-vegan items in it, and then I’ll ask them to remove whatever isn’t vegan. Other times I order a whole bunch of sides together as my entrée.
What advice would you give people thinking about going vegan?
Claire: Do your research! Make sure you are getting all of your nutrients and vitamins. Don’t expect going vegan to turn you into a health guru. Also, don’t restrict yourself of any vegan foods. Lastly, keep everything in moderation.
Maddi: I would definitely say do your research on what being vegan actually is. It is not just eating dairy, meat, etc., there is a whole other ethical side to it. Make sure you educate yourself on what actually happens within the meat and dairy industry. Secondly, do your research on the necessary vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Know that people won’t always understand or even agree with your lifestyle and beliefs, and that’s okay. Do what you think is right and don’t worry about what other people think you should do.
What is your typical meal?
Claire: A typical meal would be tofu or edamame and veggies.
Maddi: My typical meal is either a baked potato with ketchup, broccoli, apple, and a soft serve dark chocolate popsicle or some sort of burrito with rice and beans.
What is your favorite vegan recipe?
Claire: My favorite recipe has got to be lentil spaghetti or a really great veggie burger.
Maddi: My favorite recipe is a good veggie burger.