Viva La Vegan!

Michael Perry is a passionate tri and endurance athlete spending a great deal of his spare time outdoors and enjoying competitive level swim, bike and run. Discovering that athletes could benefit significantly from high quality fuel, his curiosity for optimising athletic performance through nutrition became a passion.

The primary driver for his co-creation of Tao Nutrition – a Premium Natural Protein and Superfood powder - was to initially facilitate his own progressive journey but he quickly realised that a lot of people were on a similar path. He is proud to provide a genuine and authentic nutritional tool that many can use in their own pursuit of personal greatness.

Why Vegan?
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
My first realisation that something was not right with my current lifestyle came when I was reading an environmental ethics book. It highlighted that animals as sentient beings had rights too. It catalysed a thought process that gained momentum and supported an underlying knowing since I was young, that producing animals as a resource for human gain and the way they were treated was not right. The second issue that was significant for me was the environmental cost of ‘producing’ animals.
Realising that I could make a change in my world to impact what was going on, I went vegetarian. Over a number of years I learned more and more about the environmental, social, ethical and health benefits which lead to going plant-based (vegan). I am so happy with my journey, the choices I have, continue to make and the place that I am at right now.

How long have you been vegan?
Over five years now.

What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
Being conscious of how things are produced, what goes into them and having that awareness around their lifecycle gives me the opportunity to make choices everyday that make a difference. I love putting conscious awareness into day-to-day actions and decisions. I think that this simple task or action, if done by everyone would make a huge difference in the world as we know it. I feel the outcome of these decisions (especially in my square metre) aligns with my intentions, goals and aspirations. Healthy mind, body and soul.
What does veganism mean to you?
Living a life full of conscious experience in harmony and symbiosis with the earth.
What sort of training do you do?
I am a passionate triathlete, and love it

How often do you (need to) train?
Two to three sessions per day, up to 20+hrs per week. Luckily I love it!

Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
I help friends and family on a one-on-one basis but also made a conscious choice about 2 years ago to provide service in a different way. I cofounded a natural protein and superfood powder – Tao Nutrition. Our vision is to share and inspire health in the community through healthy nutrition. We have focused our product on providing a healthy and super nutritious, convenient snack option rich in healthy proteins and superfood ingredients for nutrients – 100% plant-based and vegan of course.
We also put a huge amount of effort into educating our passionate community as we think that awareness and positive behaviour change is one the most effective ways to make a difference. We love putting out high quality articles on health, wellbeing, performance and of course delicious recipes. Check out some examples.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
That we are i) doing something extreme; and ii) our diet is lacking in proper nutrients. For some people who live the standard Australian lifestyle, living consciously is extreme and I can see their perspective and why they would be threatened by a group of people that cause self-reflection. That doesn’t mean I agree with it though.
I respectfully address these misconceptions with educated responses about what I have learnt and my personal experiences. I am pushing my mind and body to the limits day in and day out. If my nutrition was inadequate in any way, I simply wouldn’t be able to do the things I do. My lifestyle and the way I live it speaks for itself.
In the past, I have tried arguing with people, sighting this study and that health concern, appealing to how their behaviour affect the animals and the environment, but have found the most effective is being a positive role model for a plant-based healthy lifestyle.

What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
I recover fast and have stable energy levels throughout the day. I never get colds or the flu, which means less down time and more training. Bringing meditation into my lifestyle has allowed me to shed physical and most importantly mental fatigue meaning that I am sharper, can deal life situations rationally and make better decisions.
I was unfortunately hit by a car whilst training on my bike in Nov 2013. I broke both of my legs and sustained heaps of lower limb injuries. My doctors were shocked at how quickly I healed! I had a lot of large skin grazes that had healed within 2-3 weeks and they said my physical recovery was about 2-3 times faster than a normal person.
From learning to walk again in Jan 2014, I was back into full training 8 weeks after the incident. I actually did two 4-day treks in New Zealand with full packs on totalling over 150km, 8 weeks after the accident. It was a great test for the legs but I couldn’t have done it without a high quality lifestyle, being plant-based and the inclusion of high quality nutrition like Tao Nutrition.

Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
I think some are still waiting for my wheels to fall off, or some major negative health event to happen. Even after 15 years of being vegetarian and over 5 years being vegan. I quietly keep achieving my goals and reaching new levels of health and performance, and I think my actions and who I ‘am’ speak loudly enough.
The occasional joke is thrown my way, but when you see a training buddy using the raw balls recipe you let them try the week before or see them making a change in a way I have passively inspired, I can see their support in that way too. They are generally tolerant of a vegan lifestyle and try to choose somewhere that serves ‘our type’ of food.

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, iron, calcium from?” I used to say, “Where do you get your protein from?” and then walk them through where and how their animal derived sources arrive conveniently in the supermarket, but found that to not be a very successful conversation.
I now approach the question a little more respectively and it’s not what they are asking by why. They come from a position where society has marketed them into thinking they must eat x, y and z to live, or else! Explaining to them how much protein humans actually need and that plant-based sources of the nutrients are where it’s at. I go through some awesome recipes that we make at home for meals and if I have anything on hand will give them a try of whatever I am eating - I am usually eating something! Again, I think people take more from what they see than what you say. If you are thriving, it’s hard to argue against that.

Who or what motivates you?
I am inspired by people who become aware of their situation and make a conscious change for the better. That is the catalyst for a life changing behaviour or situation and can lead to experiences that would not have come about otherwise.
The second thing that inspires me is walking through the supermarket and seeing all of the toxic food moving from the shelves into people trolleys. I see unhappy people walking around the aisles putting low quality food into their trolleys wondering why they feel so bad. I am motivated to give the community products and information that build health - from a company that is genuine and who’s vision is authentic. 
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
- Smoothies are a staple breakfast for me as they are convenient, portable and I can get heaps of nutrients in there, Tao Nutrition is a key ingredient of course.
Tao Nutrition Smoothie or, a sugar free, whole food, gluten free, superfood muesli with Tao Nutrition on top with rice or coconut milk.
Lunch - A huge salad - you would love to see the size of my salads - with heaps of fresh veggies and avocados. Yum.
- Roasted Vegetables on bed of salad, Homemade Pizza (gluten-free dough), Homemade Veggie burgers, Laksa, Curries, and Stir-fries.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy)
- Tao Power Balls, Choc Mint Smoothie, Organic vegan fair-trade dark chocolate, Fruit – Yum!

What is your favourite source of:
- Tao Nutrition.
Calcium - Sesame seeds, kale, coconut water.
Iron – Leafy greens, amaranth.
What foods give you the most energy?
Long burn energy in between sessions – salads with avocado, coconut milk, Tao Nutrition smoothies. During sessions – big juicy organic medjool dates will keep me going for 6hr+ sessions.

Do you take any supplements?
B12, Tao Nutrition, Omega 3 DHA and K2 - all vegan sources.
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle
Lift weights, low reps, high recovery, don’t skimp on eating a whole food plant-based diet rich in healthy protein, carbohydrates and fat. Ensure recovery before you work each muscle again that week, might be 2-3 days between workouts.

Losing weight
I feel that weight gain is a by-product of malnutrition and storing toxins by making bad food choices. To rectify these focus on: Fresh whole foods ie veggies and fruits that don’t come in packets; Plant-based foods; Organic if possible.
The closer you to get to achieving 100% of your diet with these things, your life will transform to a place of endless energy, mental clarity and joyous experience. I think gaining health should be the focus and the Weight loss will be a by-product of that. It’s like marching for peace instead of against war.  

Maintaining weight
Eat health-building foods until you are satiated and full and your body will reach its natural healthy weight. Be honest and don’t starve yourself, the world is an abundant place.

Improving metabolism
Be active every day. Standing workstation, squats in the toilet stalls, pushups, taking the stairs, riding to work, join your friends on that lunchtime walk/run or make new ones doing something fun. Lots of fresh veggies especially leafy greens – high nutrient density, bigger volume gets the digestive fire burning.
Toning up
High quality nutrition, and being active. No secrets here, you want to look athletic, be athletic. That includes cardio, strength and fun.
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
  1. By being the change I want to see in the world;
  2. Being the co-founder of a plant-based premium protein superfood.
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
Stay tuned for upcoming interviews with other Vegan Athletes, Fitness Fanatics and Exercise Enthusiasts by Subscribing via RSS.
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