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Interview with Lydia Grossov: Vegan Exercise Enthusiast

Lydia Grossov has been a passionate cook since she was 13 years old, a vegetarian/now vegan since 1991, a graphic designer since 1994, and, if you thought there wasn’t room for any more passion, think again, a happily married woman for more years than she can remember. She is the principal of Expresso Design, a co-founder of the Doylestown Food Club and the Doylestown Food Co-op, a supporting member of the Women’s Business Forum, an active member of the Bucks County Vegan Supper Club, and co-founder of her blog, From A to Vegan. She’s excited to help inform, educate and grow the vegan community.

LydiaGrossov

Why Vegan?
For the animals, for my health and for the planet.
 
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons in 1991 and just stopped at that for many years. With the Internet throwing information at us everyday and because my husband and I got involved in a local food movement in our community, we started realizing that being vegetarian wasn’t enough. Being vegan was the only way to be true to our ethics. It was the best choice I’ve made in my life.

How long have you been vegan?
About 4 years.

What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
My health has improved dramatically. I had serious recurring sinus infections, exercise-induced asthma, adult acne and a severe lactose intolerance that was affecting more than I realized. Had I known that all of these issues would go away just by cutting out dairy, I may have gone vegan a long time ago. I feel fantastic when I get up every morning and that, to me, is priceless.

What does veganism mean to you?
It’s a compassionate lifestyle based on doing the least harm possible, which resonates deeply with me and is in harmony my personal philosophy.

Training
What sort of training do you do?
Weight training mostly and yoga intermittently.
 
How often do you (need to) train?
I try to train at least 3 times a week.

Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
No.

What sports do you play?
I don’t practice any sports. I just work out and do yoga.

Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
That we lead a rough lifestyle of deprivation, and generally do not get enough protein or nutrients.

What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
I’m not an athlete by a long shot, have never been, but I’ve been going to the gym to work out, off and on, ever since I was a teenager. Now that I’m vegan, I’ve started taking it a lot more seriously and have found that I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. Not that simply being vegan has made me stronger, but mostly because I feel empowered by my choices and feel motivated to do more and take my health and fitness to the next level.

What is your biggest challenge?
I work a full-time job, have an independent business, run a blog, organize activities for a vegan supper club on Meetup.com and do volunteer work for a local co-op my husband and I co-founded, so at times it’s challenging to keep a regular exercise schedule.
 
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
Most of my coworkers are either curious or confused by my choices and a few have even been hostile about it. My closest colleagues don’t think much about it and respect me for the work I do, not my personal directive, but they’ll proudly share stories of good vegan meals they’ve had during the week.

Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
My family has never been opposed to me being vegetarian or vegan. They just let me do my own thing. When I first became vegetarian, my mother was mostly concerned about me getting enough nutrients. Years later she started sharing vegetarian recipes with me. My husband is vegan and was the driving force that moved us in this direction. We are members of a vegan supper club on Meetup.com and have a lot of supportive friends in the group. Our local food community is also supportive, most of our local foodie friends make it a point to always have something vegan for us to eat and have a couple a vegan meals a week themselves.

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?" That question still surprises me, every time. I tell them I get protein from everything I eat, which, in turn, confuses them and leads to a longer conversation on how much protein we really need and how I/we all get our protein.

Who or what motivates you?
Compassion for all living beings, my awesome vegan friends, online community and my hope that some day veganism will be mainstream.

Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast - Steel-cut oats before my morning workouts and then tofu scramble/seitan/protein shakes post-workout.
Lunch - A variety of whole foods meals that I make from scratch, usually leftovers from the night before - quinoa, beans, veggies galore, sometimes tofu or tempeh, occasionally a store-bought vegan sausage or burger. If I don’t have leftovers I’ll get an organic frozen meal.
Dinner - We have community-supported agriculture (CSA) shares all year round so we eat a LOT of seasonal vegetables for dinner. I try to make sure I have some balance between carbohydrates/protein/fat, but I don’t count macronutrients. I just make sure I’m getting enough variety of fresh and whole foods.
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - lots of fruit, edamame, cherry tomatoes. Primal Strips, homemade protein bars, and some mixed nuts. Occasionally I’ll bake a cake, pie or some cookies, which I now try to keep on the healthier side. And boy do I love ice cream and chocolate - I always have some in the freezer and in the pantry, respectively.

What is your favourite source of:
Protein - I love tempeh and seitan
Calcium - Leafy greens and oranges
Iron - Legumes and beets (I love beets!)
 
What foods give you the most energy?
Smoothies.

Do you take any supplements?
Vitamin B-12.

Advice
What is your top tip for:
Gaining muscle, Losing weight, Maintaining weight, Improving metabolism & Toning up - Take it at your own pace, do the best that you can and don’t be too critical of yourself. Keep striving to do a little better next time, even if you’re just taking baby steps. It’s not all or nothing, every little bit you do does count.

How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I try to lead by example and show people that being vegan can have many benefits. I also talk passionately about how my health has improved after I ditched dairy, because I’m still amazed by it myself, and try to encourage people to learn more about the foods they eat so they can make better choices. I try to keep conversations light and positive. I also share information and experiences via my blog, From A to Vegan, social media, and try to make positive contributions in my local community via Bucks County Vegan Supper Club and the Doylestown Food Co-op.

How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
I encourage others to find their passion, be a positive and inspiring vegan, get involved on a grassroots level and build a strong, local vegan community for support, friendship and fun.

 

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