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Interview with Alison Andrews: Vegan Exercise Enthusiast

Alison Andrews is a passionate vegan, raw food enthusiast and weight loss expert. She is the author of the recipe program Raw Kickstart: The Rookie's Guide To Hot, Healthy and High Raw and the weight loss eBook From Fat To Fabulous: The Smart Girl's Guide To Raw Food Diet Weight Loss. In addition, she is the owner and creator of the popular raw vegan website Loving It Raw

Alison_Andrews

Why Vegan?
I am vegan because it is the right thing to do both for my own health, for the animals and for the planet.  

How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I went vegetarian in 1999 after seeing a window display in London's Covent Garden which featured a mannequin in a chef’s hat and white coat holding a headless chicken in one hand and a knife in the other and there was blood everywhere. Suddenly I just understood that if I was eating chicken, then I was directly responsible for this carnage. However, at the time I didn't really understand anything about veganism and thought that there were happy cows and chickens happily giving their milk and eggs. It was only in 2005 after struggling with some health issues that I found out more about nutrition and then started eating mostly vegan. However, without putting my head and my heart together I was still occasionally eating small amounts of dairy if out at a restaurant or something. It was when I read Skinny Bitch and watched documentaries like Earthlings that the ethics were put into place for me and I was then 100% vegan and have never looked back.

How long have you been vegan?
Since 2006 or 2007. Not 100% sure on the exact date as I eased into it a bit as I mentioned above.

What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
I have experienced enormous health benefits such as wonderful digestion, a strengthened immune system, and freedom from allergies, more energy, great complexion and slow aging! On a spiritual level, I absolutely love my increased sense of connection to all other animals on this planet - even insects.  

What does veganism mean to you?
It means so much to me, it is the thing I am most proud of in the world and the decision that has had the biggest impact on my life.  I almost feel as if it is the answer to everything - all the world's problems. Of course, this is simplistic, but this one thing would go such a long way.

Training
What sort of training do you do?

I do circuit style training as well as spinning and running.  

How often do you (need to) train?
I try and train about 5 hours a week, sometimes more but I try and make sure it is not less. I have seen wonderful gains in my fitness levels through consistency with this.  

Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
No I don't.  

What sports do you play?
Other than entering an occasional 10km race, I don't really do 'sports' as such.

Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?

I think people usually expect vegans to be pale and weak, and I am definitely the opposite of this - super great tanned skin and a healthy glow. The fact that people tend to think I am about 10 years younger than I actually am is also something that I think makes people think deeper about veganism, as I always tell them that being vegan is the reason for my youthful look (and it is!)

What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
My glycogen stores are always well stocked, so I have great energy and I recover really well.  I have noticed that even if someone (a non-vegan) is fitter than me and we work out at the same level, then afterwards they are absolutely shattered, whereas I was just as exhausted (if not more so) during the workout but quickly bounce back and a few hours later I could literally exercise hard again.

What is your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is in consistency in exercising and eating the healthiest vegan food.  Not that it's hard to do so, but sometimes when I get carried away with working or something, then I have to really watch myself otherwise I will soon be skipping meals and exercise while I sit at the computer and then eating vegan junk food. 

Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
Yes. Generally, I find people supportive. This is what I expect from others though, and I believe that what you expect from others is what you will receive.  

Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Yes, very. My husband is also vegan, and my family are all either vegan or vegetarian now.

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?
The most common comment is, “so you don't eat any meat, fish, cheese, milk, eggs?” Then the next thing is “where do you get your protein?” - that famous question! I tell them I get my protein from food. I tell them that any time I track my nutrition I find that I am getting plenty of protein, even more than I need.

Who or what motivates you?
I find motivation and inspiration from all the awesome vegans all over the world.  I am motivated to become the best person that I can be - both inside and out - so that I can shine a positive light on veganism and attract as many people as possible to this fabulous lifestyle.  

Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast - A Vega shake. A scoop of Vega with 2 heaped teaspoons of barley grass juice powder, coconut water and bananas - blended. 
Lunch - Steel cut oats, or a salad or another smoothie. 
Dinner - A big salad and vegetable stew or curry, maybe baked potatoes with avocado and salad or homemade hummus with vegetable stir fry.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - Dates, fresh fruit, vegetable juices (healthy) toast with peanut butter and jam (less healthy but I feel no guilt!)

What is your favourite source of:
Protein
 - Vega One (love this stuff) and then all whole foods in quantities sufficient to meet my daily calorie needs.
Calcium - Plenty of veggies.  
Iron – Plenty of veggies.

What foods give you the most energy?
Fruit. Fruit is the high-energy food. After fruit, it’s the high carb low fat plant foods such as potatoes and sweet potatoes.  

Do you take any supplements?
Yes, I take Vitamin B12 sublinguals, Vitamin D, Vegan DHA.

Advice
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle
 - Eat enough food - make sure you are getting enough calories in for your activity level - and then get in the gym or do body weight training. 
Losing weight – Don’t starve yourself! Focus on gaining health and fitness and not on losing weight. You are valuable no MATTER what you weigh! In terms of your value as a human being, what you weigh is entirely irrelevant! Eat healthy food, become more active and let it happen naturally and enjoyably. 
Maintaining weight - The same as above. When the body gets into balance it naturally maintains its ideal weight. An overweight body is just a symptom of a body that's out of balance - many times this is a direct result of the dieting and restriction that has preceded it. Eat a healthy, low fat, whole foods vegan diet along with exercise, sufficient sleep, supplementation and sunshine and your body (and mind) will gradually come into balance.
Improving metabolism - Exercise and eat enough! Even if you think you are very overweight, you still need to eat enough! Starving yourself is never ever ever the answer.
Toning up - Weight training and body weight training are ideal for toning up. You don't have to go to a gym, but things like squats, lunges, pushups, pull-ups, burpees, can all be done at home with great results.

How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
By being very openly vegan on social media, online as well as in person. By running a popular vegan website and spreading the message as far and wide as I can. 

How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
See my website Loving It Raw.
 
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