Viva La Vegan!
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Leilani Münter is a biology graduate who eventually became the unusual combination of a race car driver and environmental activist. Leilani has raced from shorts tracks to superspeedways, in both open wheel and stock cars. With years of dedication to environmental issues, she has become a recognized leader in the environmental community.
I am an ethical vegan, so my main reason is for the well being of animals. It is also a great benefit that being vegan is good for the environment. More greenhouse gas emissions come from raising livestock for the meat industry than the entire transportation sector combined.
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I have been vegetarian almost my entire life, going vegetarian when I was six. I went vegan three years ago as I learned more about the dairy industry.
How long have you been vegan?
Over three years, I went from vegetarian to vegan in July 2011.
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
I feel healthier, and I am at peace with my ethical choices in my diet - knowing that I am not harming any animals to eat. I have also had a chance to discover so many wonderful vegan restaurants in my travels.
What does veganism mean to you?
It means living your life in a way that does not harm the creatures we share our world with, and taking care of Planet Earth as best we can.
What sort of training do you do?
I do a lot of Bikram yoga. It's very hot in the race car so that helps me stamina-wise to deal with the heat during races. I also like to scuba dive, snowboard, play tennis, and swim.
How often do you (need to) train?
I train much more when I am getting ready for a race. I'm not a work out addict, so my training schedule tends to be more sporadic. When I travel I find it hard to keep up with a work out schedule.
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
No, I don't.
What sports do you play?
Outside of racing, I enjoy scuba diving, snowboarding, and tennis.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
They think we live off of salads. I address it by making amazing vegan meals and feeding it to those who are skeptical!
What are your strengths as a vegan athlete?
With my healthy diet, I don't have to work out as much to fit into my racing suit!
What is your biggest challenge?
Finding good vegan food on the road. Some of the racetracks are in remote places that don't have a lot of vegan food available.
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
Both. I would say many of them don't necessarily get it. As a woman in a male-dominated sport, and an environmentalist carrying messages about clean energy and climate change in racing, I am comfortable with the role of oddball or misfit. Once they try some of my vegan food, it tends to change their minds for the most part.
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Yes, they are. Some people give me a hard time, but nothing negative. Facebook and Twitter followers, however is another story.
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?
"How do you get your protein?" is the most common question. One of my biggest pet peeves is the protein question. I respond by saying, "Have you seen an elephant or a gorilla lately? They are vegan, does it look like they are short on protein?"
Who or what motivates you?
Every day I wake up fighting for a better world for our planet and the animals we share it with.
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast – Coffee, I don't eat breakfast.
Lunch - My lunch and dinner are different every day. I listen to my body and eat whatever I am craving. I am a big believe in listening to what my body wants.
Dinner - Same answer as above.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - I love making huge salads with garbanzo beans, red onion, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, peas, corn - I put all the veggies on it! Not so healthy snack? I love this brand of frozen vegan macaroni and cheese. There are definitely lots of not so healthy vegan snacks out there!
What is your favourite source of:
Protein - Beans but I also enjoy cooking with the meat substitutes they make now: Beyond Meat, Gardein, Boca, Tofurky, etc.
Calcium - Almond milk.
Iron – Spinach.
What foods give you the most energy?
I think all vegan food gives me energy, I do enjoy a big salad!
Do you take any supplements?
I take a multivitamin and flaxseed.
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle - Exercise, this is not rocket science.
Losing weight - Juice fast is a quick way to shed some pounds.
Maintaining weight - Eat healthy, stay away from the junk foods.
Improving metabolism - Exercise, get sweaty.
Toning up - Yoga.
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I talk about it on my social media quite a bit and I always address it in my speeches. I have given over 75 keynotes now and that is my one ask when people ask me what they can do for the environment. Not everyone can buy an electric car or put solar panels on their roof - but everyone can cut back or give up meat in their diet. I am working on a vegan-themed race car to get veganism in front of 75 million race fans. I want to have a booth with a vegan chef giving away free vegan food to the race fans. The way to win over a new audience is to get them to taste it for themselves!
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
carbonfreegirl.com is my website.
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The Book is Coming Soon!
- Published: 30 April 2015
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