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Interview with Dani Raimet: Vegan Triathlete and AFL player

Dani Raimet is a vegan energizer bunny from Canberra Australia who plays AFL (Australian Rules Football) and Australian Age Group Triathlete. Although she currently works in the IT industry, she is studying an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) to allow her to one day become a C-Level executive of a not-for-profit organization. On-top of work, study and training commitments Dani is involved with Animal liberation groups within Australia and is becoming more involved in several 'green' initiatives to support environmental preservation and restoration.

_Dani_Raimet

Why Vegan?
I stumbled across a documentary on factory farming and I found it pretty unbelievable what is hidden from us. I'm vegan because I don't want to contribute to the suffering of animals.

How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I basically became vegetarian overnight, I watched a few documentaries and researched more into factory farming and about a week later I removed all animal products. I cut out all animal products because i think there is a fundamental issue with us as humans using and abusing living beings.

How long have you been vegan?
Since early 2012.

What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
My energy levels are a lot higher, I feel a lot stronger than before and I'm recovering from training quicker.

What does veganism mean to you?
To me it means that we don't exploit animals (or anyone) just because we have the power to do so.
 
Training
What sort of training do you do?
What don't I do? I run, swim, ride, rock climb, hike, play team sports and anything else that takes my fancy. I travel a bit for work so my training is usually pretty varied.

How often do you (need to) train?
Everyday I do something. Even if its just a walk with my dogs or casual rock climbing with friends. Most days I do at least 1-2 triathlon training sessions (run, swim or ride) and i train a few nights a week for AFL when its in season.
 
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
I don't currently but I'm thinking about doing it in the future.
 
What sports do you play?
AFL (Australian Rules Football) and I also compete in long distance running races and triathlon events.
 
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
I think everyone has their misconceptions. The biggest is probably that we don't get enough protein. I'm not really sure why everyone becomes a protein expert when they find out you're vegan (I guess its marketing from food companies mostly) but I find that the best approach is to lead by example. I have a huge amount of energy and people just notice. I also find that people think that we need  meat (like we can survive without it or something) but again I try to just demonstrate to them by proving them wrong.
 
What are your strengths as a vegan athlete?
I'm really stubborn and competitive which enables me to push myself to my limits and im usually really strict with my training.  
 
What is your biggest challenge?
I've had a lot of stupid injuries in the past - before I became vegan - mostly from pushing myself too hard and I sometimes find it hard to balance between doing enough training to improve and doing too much. Its definitely something I need to take more seriously.
 
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
I think people are skeptical at first but generally people don't care what I do and don't eat although I've had a few people tell me that I can't be vegan and play sport - I like to prove them wrong.
 
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Yes. I am friends with open minded people, if they weren't we wouldn't be friends. They joke with me a lot and they are very open to trying vegan foods. Since seeing that I don't need animal products to be energetic/fit/healthy, most of my friends have cut out animal products or significantly reduced their consumption.
 
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?
What do you eat? Usually I invite them around and make them something or give them a recipe to try. No complaints yet!
 
Who or what motivates you?
I'm motivated by lots of things and people, I think sometimes in a busy world its hard to appreciate that each and every one of us is really lucky, that in itself is a great motivator. I'm motivated to train harder to prove that Vegans can be successful in sport - that's probably my biggest driver when I'm doing a tough session. In relation to triathlon,s Brendan Brazier (Vegan triathlete and ultra marathon runner) is a bit of an idol of mine.
 
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast - I like green smoothies, rolled oats with cinnamon, raw coconut muesli with almond milk, quinoa porridge with apple and cinnamon or a big veggie breakfast on weekends.
Lunch - Fruit salads, bean jacket potatoes, salads, wraps or pastas and I am partial to the odd kebab.
Dinner - I love bean chillis and stews - because theyre quick and easy after training - but I also regularly make stir fries, pasta dishes and curries
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - I usually snack on nuts and fruit - fresh dates, berries, melon and mangoes are my favorite. Although my favorite junk food would have to be home made chocolate walnut brownie or vegan cupcakes - from my 2 favourite places in Canberra: Sweet Bones Bakery in Braddon and Veganarchy cupcakes which are sold in several cafes throughout Canberra.
 
What is your favorite source of:
Protein - Beans or Organic Tofu.
Calcium - Leafy Greens.
Iron - Lentils, kale or spinach.
 
What foods give you the most energy?
Oats are my favorite foods before races or AFL games and I find dried fruit, nuts and fresh dates keep me going during events.
 
Do you take any supplements?
I take a vegan multivitamin and omega capsules. I could get away with not taking these but I usually take them at least every second day. I also like Sunwarrior Raw vegan protein powder, I sometimes have these after longer events or big training sessions but I don't rely on them as I still think wholefoods are a better source of nutrients.

Advice
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle - Training is as important as diet. Be consistent with your training and eat wholefoods to compliment your activity level.
Losing weight - There's no magic ingredient. Ditch the rubbish foods, fill up on healthy wholefoods and find time to exercise everyday - even if its short.
Maintaining weight - Make sure you're eating right for your activity level and create a routine.
Improving metabolism - Eat small meals more often and do a short sharp workout every morning before breakfast or at night before dinner.
Toning up - I personally find that 'good fats' play a huge part in toning as well as eating a variety of different protein sources. Obviously eating for your activity level is important - over or under eating is detrimental.
    
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I spend every day demonstrating that vegan's can be athletic and healthier than meat eating counterparts. I also use Instagram to spam my vegan food creations to anyone who will listen. I like to support others thinking of or becoming vegan, especially with the Vegan Easy Challenge, where I provide the role of a mentor and I love sharing thoughts on veganism and food ideas with my mentees. I think its important to surround yourself with like minded people and to remember that many people are not vegan because they simply don't understand why people are vegan, not because they want to inflict pain and suffering on animals - it's sometimes hard to remember this important thing.
 
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?   
If you want to be vegan, do some research, know why you're doing it and stick to it. An easy way to become vegan is by signing up to Vegan Easy and registering for a mentor like myself. We can help guide you through any questions you may have and it helps to have that like minded person to discuss things with if you need. It also pays to research what vitamins are in what foods (eg good sources for calcium, B vitamins, protein etc) this will ensure a smooth and healthy transition.

For those wanting to get into triathlons and other sports, start slowly and build up your endurance/fitness. The biggest thing I can say is be consistent and don't give up!
 

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