Interview with Jack Lindquist: Vegan Road & Track Cyclist
Written by Leigh-Chantelle
Created Thursday, 27 September 2012
Jack Lindquist began his professional trajectory as an Aerospace engineering student at Penn State University, which lead to a short stint in the defense industry workforce. After one weapon design too many, his conscious got the best of him, quitting to work as a bike messenger while figuring out life’s next step.
It was at this time that Jack realized he was naturally fast on the bike, winning the 2007 Puma Velocity race in New York City and earning his first free ride overseas to compete. With excitement for racing escalating, and a few coaches noticing his potential, Jack propelled himself from an ex-aerospacing bike messenger to the U.S. National Developmental Team in just a few short-yet-hard worked years.
He currently leases his speed to the Ritte VanVlaanderen Race Team as a Category 2 road racer and Category 1 track. The dude’s got piston tattoos on the back of his legs, isn’t afraid to sport a sleazy ‘stache and actually looks OK with a mullet - quite possible the biggest accomplishment of all.
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I was vegetarian for a while, then went back to an omnivorous diet, then someone very close to me asked me what the difference was between my dog (the Reverend) and any of the animals I've eaten. I had no response. Having loved all animals all my life, I was horrified when I realized how much I had done, by not doing anything.
How long have you been vegan?
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
Other than a clearer conscience, my recovery time during and after intense workouts has decreased significantly, and I feel like I have more energy overall.
What does veganism mean to you?
It is a more responsible way to approach my diet, and my life. The industries that use/abuse animals are not only cruel, but they are exceedingly bad for our planet! It's a way to live cleaner, and with a better impact.
What sort of training do you do?
As a sprint track cyclist, I do a lot of very high intensity, short efforts on the bike, as well as a lot of weight lifting. There are also longer rides and recovery days, but for the most part my training is explosive and violent.
How often do you (need to) train?
I lift weights 2 times a week, ride the track 3-5 times a week and ride on the road 3-4 times a week.
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
I have started coaching and have a couple of athletes I'm working with - both aspiring track cyclists - but I'm interested in working with all types of cyclists towards any goals they may have.
What sports do you play?
I am a professional road and track cyclist.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
The usual: vegans are small, skinny, sickly and weak. To prove this wrong, I exist. The other, that vegans can't perform due to our 'incomplete' and low protein diets. I have an RD, Matthew Ruscigno of True Love Health who helps me out and I often refer people to him for diet consultations.
What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
My ability to recover, the energy level that I can maintain, and the ability to keep my body at or near a training peak much longer than some of my competitors who aren’t vegan.
What is your biggest challenge?
Time. Most of my events are timed, so beating the clock. Dealing with people, especially those who are not very open minded, there is a limited window to make a meaningful impression, to leave a spark of information that may help them realize that veganism, or even just limited meat consumption, is a healthy, realistic possibility.
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
There are some people that race bikes that are totally on board and great. Some of the others are as non-supportive as the come. I frequently hear that I should eat meat then I'd be faster etc.
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
My friends and family are all very supportive. Some of my family have even made a conscious change to improve the quality of their diet, just because they've seen how well it has worked for me.
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?” Honestly, this is so frustrating. The meat industry has brainwashed people to think that meat is the only food that has any protein, and I tell them how much protein there is in something like bread - it totally blows people's minds! Then I tell them about things like tofu, legumes, and quinoa, and they start to realize what is possible.
Who or what motivates you?
The inextinguishable desire to be the best. I'm really competitive so I can't not be motivated. If I slack off someone is going to work harder that day, and beat me tomorrow.
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast - Usually a couple of bagels, with black beans, orange juice, coffee, and maybe a piece of fruit. If I've got time, pancakes with peanut butter and syrup, or tofu scramble with veggies,\ and black beans.
Lunch - More often than I like to admit it, a few (usually 3-4) peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, some fruit bars, and a protein recovery shake.
Dinner - Burritos, pizza, tofu stir-fry, or a pasta dish of some sort. Burritos are the best food ever. Some pan fried tofu, a little soy-rizo maybe, black beans, rice, home made salsa (I have a room mate who makes awesome stuff from scratch almost every week!) and some jalapenos.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - I admit that I love candy. I try not to eat too much, mostly because the processed sugar makes me feel pretty crappy, but it still happens. Fruit, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, oatmeal, and peanut butter straight out of the jar with a spoon.
What is your favourite source of:
Protein - Beans and bread. It's impressive how much is there! Peanut butter, and soy products. I love tofu.
Calcium - I eat a lot of vegetables, and so many calories in an average day (my RD and I have figured out it's near 5000!) that I don't worry too much about calcium.
Iron - Again, due to the immense number of calories I eat, my iron needs are easily met. If I ever do feel run down, or whenever I travel, I take a vegan multi vitamin that has high levels of B's and Iron and Calcium.
What foods give you the most energy?
CARBOHYDRATES! Anything with simple sugars - dates are especially awesome. I eat a lot of bread and that seems to do the trick.
Do you take any supplements?
I do. I take creatine daily, as well as a recovery shake after workouts that I mix myself that has creatine, glutamine, protein, and electrolytes. Part of my reasoning in mixing my own shake has to do with there not being a great vegan recovery product out there, and my own paranoia about contaminated supplements that have caused cyclists to test positively for banned substances that they've never knowingly, or intentionally used.
What is your top tip for:
Keep things simple, if you want to gain a lot of muscle, eat a high (but not crazy) protein diet, with a lot of calories. Eat after you lift and give your body what it needs, when it needs it. Your training program is important as well - you can't expect huge gains without keeping your program fresh and fluid. Your body will adapt to what you've been doing, and your gains will decrease over time, but changing things up - even just the order of your exercises can make a huge difference.
I honestly can't be much help here. I have the metabolic rate of a hummingbird on a cocaine bender. If I forget to eat a snack, I lose 5 pounds. From what I have learned in my coaching, and by helping some friends, significant decreases in caloric intake are necessary. DON'T starve yourself to death, but to lose 1 pound a week, you need to cut 500 calories a day, and keep up your current physical output.
My biggest problem is forgetting to eat. If you keep on a schedule, and pre-make meals for the day, you're more likely to stay on top of this, and not find yourself wasting away as you get ready for bed, and not know why.
Find activities that are fun! To really kick start your body, find an activity that gets your heart rate up (over 140 BPM) that you can do for an hour and stick with it. The first couple of times might be great, but then your body will probably start to protest. This is when you really need to buckle down, and be honest with yourself about your goals, and reasons for exercise, then you'll do what you need to.
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I make people aware of what goes into what they eat, how much better they can feel - both morally and physically - by changing their diets, and by just being a successful cyclist. When people see what I can do being plant fueled, they start to think about changing their own habits.
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
To quote the most successful cyclist, and probably the best, of all time, Eddy Merckx who said, "Ride your bike, ride your bike, ride your bike!" Ride to the store, to work, to a friend's house, or to your favorite restaurant. If you make it a worthwhile destination, it will be a worthwhile trip.
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