One of the most frequently asked questions that many vegans receive is the always annoying “Where do you get your protein?!” By now, I’m sure you know that you’d have to be calorie-deficient to be protein-deficient. For people who are looking to build muscle, lose fat, and gain confidence, a vegan diet may be just the trick!
Take, for example, vegan bodybuilder Amanda Riester, who is in the hot seat in today’s Q&A:
When and why did you first decide to go vegan?
I have always been a huge animal lover. I became a vegetarian in kindergarten after my 11-year-old cousin teasingly told me where meat came from. Although she wasn’t a vegetarian, she was just trying to make me cry—it worked! I was horrified at the idea of eating an animal friend and never touched a piece of meat again. I remember being 5 years old asking at restaurants if things were made of meat before I ordered! Although I have always lived a vegan lifestyle (never wore leather or fur), two years ago I finally got the motivation to cut out all dairy. I read Skinny Bitch and The Ethics of What We Eat, and that sealed the deal for me!
What was the biggest change that you experienced when you switched to a plant-based diet?
My energy level skyrocketed. The bit of belly fat I had melted away within weeks. I always say I lost my “cheese fat” because if you actually look at fat, especially on the back of thighs, it really resembles melted mozzarella!
What is your favorite vegan meal?
I absolutely love homemade seitan! I eat it four meals a day. I find it to be the perfect protein source for me. It has approximately 150 calories, fat free, sodium free, 9 grams of carbs and 27 grams of protein! And you can season it any way at all. I usually add chili powder, fresh lime juice, cilantro, and some diced tomatoes, onion, and green peppers. Yum! If I want a healthy apple cobbler, I add sliced apples, dried cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and a bit of brown sugar. Then I add some cooked and sweetened quinoa on top and bake it. It’s a great base to do anything with! The possibilities are endless.
How frequently do you work out, and what do these workouts usually entail?
I am a complete gym addict! I train six days a week, twice a day. I do morning cardio before breakfast for about 45 minutes. I prefer to jog outside with one of my dogs, but if they aren’t up for it, I head to the gym and enjoy hitting the heavy bag or walking on an incline on the treadmill. In the evening I head back to the gym and hit the weight room for about 90 minutes of intense weight training. I lift heavy on legs and light on upper body since my upper body is way more developed then my lower from years of boxing. My favorite body part to train is legs. I can lift 720 pounds on the leg extension 10 times! I always have a crowd around me watching when I do leg workouts!! I love showing up the guys and telling everyone I have “vegan superpowers”! 😉
What advice do you have for other people who want to lead an active and healthy lifestyle?
When you start out, begin with an activity that you will really enjoy so you have the motivation to be consistent. Take it one day at a time and work at your own pace! Start out with whatever you can do … if it’s five minutes on the treadmill, tomorrow do five minutes and 30 seconds. Every day try to improve just a little bit. It will add up in no time!
Amanda’s activism for animals doesn’t end when she leaves the gym. In addition to being the proud mom to three rescued dogs, she works full time as a professional animal communicator and pet-loss grief counselor.
While I may not be headed to a bodybuilding competition anytime soon, Amanda’s advice is spot on, and I admire her for her hard work and dedication. Are you inspired by Amanda’s words?