Viva La Vegan!

Andrea Berman is a P90X and INSANITY Certified Beachbody Coach in addition to being a Certified Life Coach. Her day job is a software engineering and she also enjoys writing, travel, and numerous geek loves including science fiction and fantasy. She blogs at Confessions of a Tea-Addicted Geek about her fitness journey, philosophy, and personal life, and can be reached for fitness coaching at FitGeek Fitness.


Why Vegan?
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I had a bunch of food intolerances, and eliminating animal products got rid of them. Research made me go from dietary to lifestyle vegan.
How long have you been vegan?
Since February 2006, so over seven years now.
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
In addition to health, mindfulness about the world around me and how my actions affect both it and others.
What does veganism mean to you?
It means to aim to harm none.
What sort of training do you do?

I run, walk, and do workout programs such as Les Mills Combat and Les Mills Pump.
How often do you (need to) train?
I work out 5-6 days per week.
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
Yes, I do. I have a variety of clients both local and long-distance whom I coach and offer my help to.
What sports do you play?
Not into sports, actually. I'm into other forms of fitness instead.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?

That we are all crazy, religious fanatics. Too many people see this as a religion with lots of emotionally strung out, militant people involved in it. I address this by being rational and mentioning my concerns with the abuse and corruption within the food industry and my desire not to support it, not to mention the environmental impact. By taking myself out of the system, I am casting my vote for a better world.
What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
Better health, better recovery time, less likely to drop dead of a heart attack while jogging. Too many people out there who think you can out-exercise a bad diet and some can get away with it.
What is your biggest challenge?
Being told things such as I "need meat" and all sorts of very inaccurate statements about nutrition in general. It's very frustrating and I can only do so much to educate. We need more people out there to combat the nonsense that's out there. Nutrition and food should not be political, but unfortunately they are, which does not help the situation one bit.
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
Some are and some aren't. I'm very happy to see Tony Horton and Shaun T (creators of P90X and INSANITY respectively) encourage people to drop meat and dairy. I absolutely love seeing that whenever they post to their pages.
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Extremely, yes, I'm quite blessed to have a great family, which despite its meat-and-potato leanings, loves to make sure I'm fed "Andrea-friendly food". Not even my mom worries about how much protein I get, which says it all.
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?
"Where do you get your protein?" My answer is usually "Food." Every source of natural food contains protein.
Who or what motivates you?
Prominent vegans in the fitness world such as Robert Cheeke, Giacomo Marchese, Scott Jurek, Brendan Brazier, all fighting the good plant strong fight.
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:

Breakfast - I usually do a quick fruit and protein smoothie, as I am frequently pressed for time. Typically it includes 1 scoop chocolate vegan Shakeology, 1/4 cup frozen strawberries, 1/2 banana, 1-1.5 cups of unsweetened chocolate flavored almond milk, and 2 TB of unsweetened cocoa.
Lunch - Veggie wraps, quinoa and veggie salads, veggie burgers, any and all of the above. I do like to mix things up but during the weekday I usually have a bunch of different sandwich fillings prepared and stuff it in two slices of toasted Ezekiel bread or put into an Ezekiel wrap. I love Ezekiel. I can't do wheat too often, but sprouted wheat agrees with me and it's a very healthy carbohydrate.
Dinner - Pretty similar to lunch. If it's a rest day or really hot outside, I'm pretty likely to make another smoothie and add more fruit to it, sometimes with a side salad.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - Hummus and veggies, Vega One or VegaSport protein bars, anything chocolate (it's my one vice you'll have to pry out of my cold, dead, rotting fingers). I like to keep this to a square or two of dark chocolate. Slice of toasted Ezekiel bread with natural peanut butter and sliced bananas on top.
What is your favourite source of:
ProteinTofu - I love tofu, especially pressed and marinated. Second favourite would have to be quinoa. Third would be lentils.
Calcium - Also tofu. In addition, kale. I love, love kale.
Iron - Quinoa, kale, spinach, lentils.
What foods give you the most energy?
Anything that's tasty and healthy! 
Do you take any supplements?
Usually just Shakeology. On heavily active days, ones where I'm apt to burn 3000+ calories or more, I'll tack on Vega One and VegaSport products. I also love PlantFusion and Sunwarrior.
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle - Eat lots of nutritionally dense, healthy food.
Losing weight - Eat clean, stay active. Avoid alcohol, processed foods, and fried foods as much as possible.
Maintaining weight - Eat clean, stay active.
Improving metabolism - Get active. Find small ways to increase your activity level as the day goes on. Want a real eye opener? Do what I did and invest in either a BodyMedia device or a FitBit.
Toning up - Eat clean and do a good blend of cardio, strength training, and yoga.
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
Living by example.
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
Just DO IT! Small steps over time can snowball. Don't be crazy and try do be perfect and do everything all at once, get a motivation/support group going and/or find one, and talk to others who have been where you're at!

Also, stay motivated. It's something you have to work on daily, and like all muscles needs a good workout. It's often said that motivation doesn't last but hey, neither does bathing.
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