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Interview with Ben Greene: Vegan Exercise Enthusiast

Ben Greene was born in Kingston, New York and grew up with his parents, grandmother, three older brothers, little sister and a ton of farm animals. Being born with Cerebral Palsy made sports and life just difficult, leaving Ben with a right leg that has a permanent limp and pain. His family never let him quit or give up and neither has he. Health & Fitness became Ben’s passion during high school, where it started off as just lifting weights. Since then, his level of fitness has since gone to another level. Since 2009, he has completed two Iron Distance Triathlons (140.6 miles/226 kilometres), three Marathons, one Ultra marathon and numerous other endurance events. Ben’s ultimate goal is to inform people about veganism and it's benefits. He also wants to help children with disabilities to get into sports in a safe and fun way.

Ben_Greene

Why Vegan?
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I was a on again off again vegetarian for about a year, I did not have the commitment to go vegan. One day my brother showed me the “Meet Your Meat” online video - that pushed me over the edge. After seeing how those animals were being treated, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat another animal. Another big factor in me going vegan is my belief in maintaining balance in ones life as well as preaching non-violence. I was preaching non-violence while eating animals, they do not go together. I believe that going vegan helped me regain some balance in my life.

How long have you been vegan?
I have been vegan for over 3 years.

What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
Going vegan has helped me excel in ultra distance endurance sports. I am currently training for two 140.6-mile iron distance triathlons. Maintaining a plant-based diet has help me recover faster and workout harder.

What does veganism mean to you?
Veganism is my way of life! I am proud to be in a group of people who live and strive off of a 100% plant based diet. I believe that veganism has made me a more compassionate person overall.

Training
What sort of training do you do?
My main focus is triathlon training. As I stated earlier I am training for two iron distance triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike & 26.2 mile run). I will be doing them within 1 month of each other. I mostly focus on functional exercises that relate to my everyday life and will help me perform at a high level.

How often do you (need to) train?
I train 6 days per week, somewhere around 20 hours per week. Training keeps me grounded, and focused. I also get a ton of thinking done when I am training.

Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
I offer many fitness & training services to others. I own Greene Multisport, which is a personal training and endurance training company. Greene Multisport shares & educates clients about the plant-based lifestyle. It isn’t pushed upon people if they aren’t interested in it. GMS also offers vegan meal planning, vegan meal preparation and online coaching.

What sports do you play?
Growing up basketball was my number one sport. Now it is all about triathlon, swim, bike & run all day everyday!

Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
The biggest misconception is that vegans are weak and cannot compete with their meat-eating counterparts. The way I address this is through my actions. I constantly try to show people what is possible on a plant-based diet.

What are your strengths as a vegan athlete?
I think my three biggest strengths as an athlete & person is my ambition, focus and drive.
 
What is your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is a physical one for me. I have Cerebral Palsy. From this I have a permanent limp, limited flexibility and constant discomfort. I have been battling against my own body for a very long time. If I weren’t so strong mentally, I wouldn’t have achieved anything.

Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
Yes and no, some people in the fitness industry think that you need meat and potatoes on your plate to be strong. I think those people are a little behind the times. Other people in the industry just want to perform better and are very receptive to the vegan lifestyle. There are so many conflicting articles and books out that I understand why people are so confused when it comes to nutrition.

Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Yes, my family and friends are very supportive. My family has changed their eating habits to a more plant-based lifestyle. My father recently went vegan for 30 days - he said he felt great. My brother Dominic and I are the only vegans though.

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 million-dollar question, “Where do you get your protein?” or “What do you eat?” Last but not least they always say “I couldn’t give up this or that, how did you do it?” When people ask me about protein, I name some vegetables and tell them about the amount of protein in each. People are amazed that plants have protein! The “what do you eat?” question is always funny, but I answer with what I don’t eat - it’s easier that way. Last “how do I do it?” I share with them my compassion for animals and the planet. I think people understand why I am vegan once I share that part with them.

Who or what motivates you?
I am motivated by wanting to push my physical and mental limits - as well as wanting to inspire people. I also have a little chip on my shoulder, growing up I was never picked for sports, as no kid wanted the “gimp” on their team.
 
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast - My favorite is quinoa with blueberries, banana, strawberries, golden flax seed and coconut milk.
Lunch - A huge salad with tons of dark leafy greens, spinach, carrots, cherry tomatos, chickpeas, rasins, sunflower seeds, cashews, nutritional yeast and balsamic vinegar.
Dinner - A large baked sweet potato, steamed Brussel sprouts & kale with nutritional yeast and brags amino acid spray. Also some quinoa.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - Banana & Crunchy Peanut Butter or anything with dark chocolate.

What is your favorite source of:
Protein - Chickpeas
Calcium - Quinoa
Iron - Brussel Sprouts

What foods give you the most energy?
Well I would say a mix of foods. After having a green smoothie with kale, blueberries, spinach, banana and water I feel amazing.

Do you take any supplements?
I recently started using the Vega recovery powders, other than that all my nutrition is homemade.  

Advice
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle - You have to be willing to go through some pain, and be ready to put in some hard work. Also eat clean food while trying to gain muscle - you don’t want to gain fat as well.
Losing weight - Plan your meals ahead of time. This will make it so much easier to stay on track to reach your goals. Also, you will have less of a reason to cheat.            
Maintaining weight - If you are happy with where you are at just keep doing what you are doing, as long as it is healthy. Another tip that I think is key is to make sure you eat a big breakfast and drink tons of water. That can go with any of these goals.
Improving metabolism - Eat every few hours to keep your metabolism working. If you do not eat for long periods of time, your metabolism will slow down. I try to eat every 3 hours.
Toning up - If you want to get toned or lean you need to spend time in the kitchen. What I mean by that is you need to eat healthy foods that will promote your body to change into a leaner build. Also, you need to do some hardcore cardio. High intensity interval training should be a huge part of your training regime.

How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I share my lifestyle with my friends, family and clients. I post articles, recipes and even some of my own vegan meals on Twitter , FaceBook & greenemultisport.com. I also wrote & published a book, called “The Vegan Athlete
 
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
If you mean being a personal trainer, I would say read as much as you can on the topics of exercise and fitness. Become a sponge for health and wellness information. As for being vegan they should figure out why they want to go vegan. If they don’t have a good reason then they won’t fully embrace the lifestyle

 

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