Harley Johnstone spent his first 24 years battling up-and-down energy levels and a host of maladies including chronic fatigue, asthma, Crohn’s disease, hypoglycemia, mild arthritis, sleep disorders, depression, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, anorexia, acne, and more. These challenges led him to explore veganism and eventually raw veganism in 2005. As a 100% raw vegan, Harley has won 24-hour solo mountain bike races, completed many marathons and half marathons, cycled all over the globe, and raced bicycles in Europe. Having raced and trained with Olympic gold medalists, Tour of Italy riders, and Tour de France winners including Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pereiro, Harley continues to compete at the national level in Australian road and ultra-endurance races.
Harley also spends time in Thailand training in Muay Thai and doing damage to local supplies of mango, banana, durian, chempedak, passionfruit, mangosteen, etc. He travels the world, teaching people how to thrive on fruit and nature's abundance. Never having held a driver's license, Harley fancies himself an automobile-free raw vegan organic athlete, racing to save the planet.
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I had some serious health issues like anemia, chronic fatigue, undiagnosed B12 deficiency, acne, Crohn’s disease and always battled to stay trim. I heard about vegetarian, high carbohydrate, low fat eating and did it for a week. Became vegan the next week. That was in April 2001. No looking back.
If I can transform from a chronic-fatigue Nintendo zombie to an ultra-endurance mountain bike race winner, totally free of drugs and stimulants, just by learning about my body's daily needs and how to meet them, imagine what others can achieve!
How long have you been vegan?
Since April 2001.
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
I feel both my heart health and my heart spirit. Heart health as my fitness is the highest of my life at age 34. My heart spirit is also the strongest. I feel a deeper connection to mother earth and other people. The day people open up their heart 1000% is the day animal products no longer are an option.
What does veganism mean to you?
Vegan means to me that we eat as nature intended. Plant foods. Stuff that doesn’t run away, try to bite you, give you food poisoning etc. Vegan isn’t just a word for me - it’s a lifestyle. It’s to describe what we were put on the planet for: to care for others and be stewards of the planet. Vegan means following your heart. Eat plants and enjoy life.
What sort of training do you do?
I do competitive running, cycling and duathlons. I also train in Thailand for kickboxing.
How often do you (need to) train?
I train as little or as much as I want. Some parts of the year I do more than other months. Some weeks it’s over 1500km on the bike, some weeks its 50km on the bike. I’m always super fit. Just some times of the year, I’m super duper fit! I just LOVE being active. It’s part of a healthy lifestyle in my humble opinion.
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
I’ve been working in the health & fitness industries since 1999. I do offer my services. Mostly I like to do YouTube videos and live talks as I reach a larger audience. I also give one on one coaching.
What sports do you play?
I will play just about any sport. Cycling and running being the two I’m really good at.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
People who can’t even keep up with me for 200m on foot or on the bike tell me that “they wouldn’t get enough protein as a vegan.” I tell them I’ve cycled over 190 000km as a vegan and ask if they would like to come run a sub 3hr marathon and then go ride 500km straight after starting at midnight tonight.
What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
You get better recovery. You’re eating more whole food carbohydrates. You’re eating less fat. You’re eating more fruits and vegetables. You’re not consuming metabolic waste products from animals that your endocrine system has to process on top of the metabolic waste products we all produce each day.
What is your biggest challenge?
For me as a fruit based vegan, my biggest challenge would be finding quality ripe fruit!
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
Some are, some aren’t. Some hate, some love. That’s just life. I’m motivated either way.
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
At the start, they were not. Then I cycled across Australia and started running marathons. Then they got more confident. All of my friends are high quality people. Real friends enjoy your success and support your positive choices.
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?
Most common question is “where do you get your protein?” to which I often say, “Protein, what’s protein? I’ve cycled over 190 000km all round the world and I don’t even know what protein is. How many km have you cycled in the last decade?” I also like to point out there is not even a medical word for protein deficiency. Kwashiorkor or marasmus refers to caloric deficiency. I like to ask them how many grams of protein they ate today and when they say they don’t know I respond with, “Well something as important as protein, how do you know you’re getting enough?”
Who or what motivates you?
I motivate me. I’m also inspired by many, many things though. From 140kg people who start riding bikes, to innocent animals being killed so we can head towards 140kg riding bikes trying to 'burn off the fat'. I’m motivated to motivate others into living their life purpose and therefore motivating others.
What do you eat for:
Dinner: Fruit and/or salad.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy): Fruit. Funny thing is some people say fruit is healthy and others say fruit is unhealthy!
What is your favourite source of:
Protein: Fruits and vegetables.
Calcium: Fruits and vegetables.
Iron: Fruits and vegetables.
What foods give you the most energy? Fruits.
Do you take any supplements?
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle: Lift heavy weights!
Losing weight: Cut overt fat out of your diet. The fat we eat is the fat we wear. Become a high carbohydrate, low fat fruit based vegan. Start living a life of passion and purpose. People eating enough carbohydrates so they can live with passion and purpose each day, never have excess weight issues in the long run. Live vs starve.
Maintaining weight: keep doing what you’re doing and you will keep getting what you’re getting.
Improving metabolism: Early nights, drink enough water so you’re peeing clear at least 10 times a day. A course of bB2 shots (used in the weight loss industry for decades safely), eat under 10% of your calories as fat. Same with protein. Eat over 80% of your calories from carbohydrates. Fruit is the best. Starches are second best.
Toning up: Use it or lose it. It’s that simple.
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I wear clothing with the message and a website on it. I never leave the house without wearing my message on my hat, shorts, backpack or shirt.
I’m the most watched raw fooder and vegan on YouTube. I have had over 1.2 miliion views in the last 30 days. I give talks, write blogs and run the world’s most popular raw foods/vegan website. I tell people to get enough carbohydrate calories in each day - 10g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight per day. So if someone is 70kg then that’s 700g of carbohydrates which is about 1kg of dry weight rice or 35 large bananas. Carbohydrates are key whether you’re fit or not. NOBODY gets fit by under eating on the correct fuels!
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
Get on the net. Look up 'Durianrider'.
- Published: 11 October 2012
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia Licence