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Interview with Eric Storms: Vegan Runner & Cyclist

Eric Storms came into his 30’s carrying around an extra 40 pounds, subsisting on a diet heavy in fast food, highly processed snacks and soft drinks. Deciding to not continue living that way, Eric and his wife began educating themselves on nutrition and began cleaning up their diet. Slowly meat consumption was reduced, being replaced with plant-based alternatives. In learning about food they also learned about the conditions in factory farms and how horribly the animals and workers were treated which put them on the path to ultimately finding veganism.

Athletically, Eric began running - starting with 5k’s and eventually made his way to a full marathon. 2012 found Eric tackling a few sprint distance triathlons. His focus for 2013 is on trail running, complimented by cycling.
 
Eric spends his days working in a corporate job for “the man” while working on freelance writing in the evenings. He has contributed to This Dish is Veg, Milpages, and can be found on Twitter.

Eric_Storms 

Why Vegan?
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
Without really discussing it, my wife and I gradually began eating less and less meat. I do not remember it exactly but we got into a discussion with the kids and they were asking if the chicken we eat are the same as the cute chickens they saw in pictures. Once they made the connection they were really turned off of eating meat. From there we eased out the rest of the animal products and went vegan.

How long have you been vegan?
Over 6 years .

What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
Obtaining a sense of not doing harm to other beings.

What does veganism mean to you?
Having compassion.

Training
What sort of training do you do?
Cycling, running, with some strengthening and stretching - not nearly enough though.

How often do you (need to) train?
I train 5-6 days a week.

Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
Not formally.

What sports do you play?
Primarily running and cycling, but I have done triathlons as well.
 
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
I think many people have a vision of vegans being rail-thin, pale, heavily tattooed and in your face telling you how horrible you are for not being vegan. I work to be open to people’s questions and take time to answer them. While you may have gotten a question asked of you several times, it may be this persons first time ever asking it so it is important to be patient. Another big misconception is vegans are not able to get calcium and protein.  

What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
I feel I recover faster. The food is easier to digest and thus places less stress on the body.

What is your biggest challenge?
When we first went vegan a challenge we faced was learning the secret names used on labels for animal products or derivatives. It is not always straightforward. There was a bit of a learning curve in how to cook with tofu and some of the grains we now eat. It becomes much easier after some trial and error.  

Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
I live in Northern California, which has incredibly diversity so being vegan isn't really that shocking to people, so everyone is generally supportive.

Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Yes. My immediate family are all vegan, and everyone else is very supportive.

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?
People often ask if it is hard to be vegan, mostly from a food perspective. "What do you eat?" is a very common question. I use it as an opportunity to talk to people about the various grains and veggies we eat that are often overlooked.

Who or what motivates you?
Being healthy so that I can be active in my kids’ lives for a long time is a big motivator for me. My wife, is a big inspiration to me as she is an incredible athlete in addition to being an awesome wife and mom. Vegan Ultraman Champ Rich Roll is also an inspiration as well.
 
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:

Breakfast - Typically oatmeal mixed with chia seeds (soaked in water overnight), cinnamon, raisins, and occasionally peanut butter.
Lunch - giant salad.
Dinner - We eat a wide variety of things for dinner. My favorites are pizza, burritos, and stir-fry.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - Smoothies (home made using Vitamix), Lara Bars, almond yogurt with Love Crunch granola mixed in (sooo good.)

What is your favourite source of:
Protein - I don’t really have a dedicated, go-to protein source per se. My wife makes an awesome yellow split pea soup that has something like 20 grams of protein per serving - that would be my favorite.
Calcium - Leafy greens such as kale or Swiss chard. Almonds and almond butters are another good source.
Iron - Dark, leafy greens again.

What foods give you the most energy?  
I am not sure I have a nenergy boosting food. I feel like my diet provides a fairly steady energy level. I do not have any big spikes/lulls in energy, as I do not eat a lot of sugar or heavily processed foods.

Do you take any supplements?
I take B-12 a few times a week. I’ll also put some vitamin D in my smoothie because where I work I do not get a good deal of sunlight during the day. Many foods are fortified with these, but I’ll take a little extra here and there just to be safe.

Advice
What is your top tip for:

Gaining muscle - This is tricky as you want to plan a regiment to support your goal. Unless you’re bodybuilding, gaining muscle simply to have more mass isn’t really necessary, what you want is greater strength.
Losing weight - Honestly, I found that cutting the garbage out of your diet has the biggest impact. If you are already fit and trying to drop the last 2 or 3 pounds that is a bit tougher. Measuring and understanding portions is a big step as well. Many people, not through any fault of their own, often have a skewed perception of what a true portion of food is and eat too much of it as a result.
Maintaining weight - Eat clean and stay active.
Improving metabolism - Creating an active lifestyle is a big help in stoking your furnace. Again, it depends where you are at today. If you are fairly sedentary any change will have a substantial impact. For someone more fit it may be a matter of changing intensity or routine.
Toning up - Again, just start moving. My wife and I started off by just getting out for a walk after dinner. Yoga is a great, non -impact way to tone up your body as well as help de-stress.

How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I get asked fairly often what I am eating and I take the time to be sure and explain to people what my food is and what great nutrients certain foods provide. I try to be a positive source of information for people, as many people are curious about veganism but are hesitant to ask for fear of getting lectured or criticized.  

How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
If we define “what I do” as live a healthy life I’d suggest the following: Start with small changes. Start working in more dark leafy greens and things like quinoa into your diet. Have a meal that’s not centered around meat. Start cutting the garbage out of your diet. Learn to read labels. If you see the word hydrogenised anywhere on it – toss it. Lastly, cut out soda, yes even the “diet” variety – that stuff is horrible. Also, work to develop compassion and respect for all life.


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