Daniel Maxwell is 37, has been vegan for over 16 years and still shreds (ride a board or bike aggressively) everyday time allows. In his twenties, he raced downhill mountain bikes on the National Off Road Bicycling Association (NORBA) national circuit. He has also participated in and won plenty of BMX races, off road motorcycle races (Hare-scrambles/Cross Country), and cross-country mountain bike races.
Daniel lives on the lake in Austin, Texas and wakeskates daily. He rides Motocross and still thinks it is the most challenging and the raddest thing he ever gets to do. He likes rock climbing, but only bouldering as he don’t want to deal with all the equipment. As Daniel ages, finally people around him get that being vegan is not holding him back, in fact it finally sinks in that his strength and agility may be better because of it. Plant strong baby.
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I was 21, from a logging town in southern Oregon recently moved to Portland. I had a co-worker and also new a girl I was trying to date who were both vegan. That was the first exposure I had to the concept. The books Animal Factories, and A Diet For A New World illuminated the suffering I was a part of. Before I was complete with the second book, I knew I could never un-care.
How long have you been vegan?
Over 16 Years.
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
I am 37 and have hardly lost a step, am never sick, and in no way have I aged the way that the non vegans in my life have right along side me. The best benefit is looking at every animal in the eye, not just pets, and knowing that we are on the same team.
What does veganism mean to you?
To me it is a reminder that sacrifice should be a way of life, a sacrifice that helps animals, and prolongs human life. It is like a fitness lifestyle, it stops feeling like work really quick.
What sort of training do you do?
I have been a trainer, training manager, and co-created a fitness management software company. Now days my training is simply doing the sport. I do however do some joint stability work to protect myself from hard crashes.
How often do you (need to) train?
I shred every week.
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
Only advice these days. I train trainers - that has a broader impact and is most motivating to me.
What sports do you play?
Wakeskate, Motocross, Surf, Snowboard, Skateboard, Roadbike, BMX, Bouldering.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
I think people assume that vegans grew up near a liberal college and that they like things made of hemp. I try to change that perception. When people realize for the first time I am vegan, either from someone telling them, or if they see me cooking my veg patties on foil. Its like, yep I am badass just like you, but don’t use animal products in the process.
What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
Better Karma. Not sure if that is a real thing but I have done some crazy things and keep walking away from them.
What is your biggest challenge?
No matter what, I am not 22 anymore.
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
Yes, but that is because I have a strong personality and am very well educated in nutrition and fitness. It bums me out to see how meat eaters will treat their own friends when they are exploring plant strong lifestyle.
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Yes, same answer as the last question.
What is the most common question/comment that people ask/say when they find out that you are a vegan and how do you respond?
Protein. I explain that for 16 years I have never supplemented protein, that I don’t go out of my way to eat protein. I teach people about metabolic-acidosis, and I remind them about gorillas. The only difference is that gorillas get a few more calories from cellulose (fiber) and they have potent endocrine systems that produce a bit more growth hormone. Otherwise, just like me and you, gorillas eat a ton of plants, have huge muscles, and oh yeah they have massive canine teeth that are for pure show too.
Who or what motivates you?
Adventure and challenge motivates me. The ability to continue to pursue that adventure with the best version of my body is a part of that. I don’t need motivation to be vegan though, it is just the only thing that makes sense.
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast - fruit, bagel – I’m a minimal morning eater.
Lunch - sandwiches, pasta, Thai dishes
Dinner - same as lunch, lots of potatoes, vegetables.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - fruit, vegan cookies, my girlfriend’s vegan baking is amazing.
What is your favorite source of:
Protein - I do not pursue sources of protein.
Calcium - not over-consuming amino acids from animals means calcium loss is a non-issue. I accidentally get more than enough in my greens.
Iron - I go through phases where I take the women's daily Iron supplement. One of these days I will get better at using an iron skillet to cook with and not think about it again.
What foods give you the most energy?
Starches - minus all the butter and other fats they are magic - potatoes, yams, pasta.
Do you take any supplements?
Iron quarterly for a week, B12/riboflavin intermittently. All as precautionary, I never have energy issues that I am reacting too.
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle - lift weights and eat carbohydrates in a calorie surplus.
Losing weight - you can’t lose weight and gain muscle mass at same time so pick one. Losing weight will only happen when you body is in a deficit of calories and it must use stored energy to live. Use a food journal.
Maintaining weight - develop good eating routines, eat more for energy and less for pleasure.
Improving metabolism - not a big believer in the idea that you can increase your metabolism. Move more, eat carbohydrates, drink water. Find friends and engage in fitness with them, a better mood gives you energy. Being down makes you want to move less.
Toning up - this is a fake term used to sell people products. Your muscles are there, you can make them bigger or you can lose fat so that you can see them better.
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
By just being awesome and having fun, I love it when someone does not realize I am vegan for weeks and is like - wait a minute. “How are you still shredding? I had no idea you were my age. What special foods are you eating?” I am like “Relax man, it’s not that hard.”
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
Check out the PCRM, do the 21 day vegan jumpstart. I should be there to increase your awareness but you have to find your own reasons and you have to have your own educational journey. Find a strong, confident vegan who can give you advice on how to deal with your friends, family, boyfriend, etc and the comments and misperception they will now have of you.
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