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Interview with Anne-Marie Campbell: Vegan Black Belt

Anne-Marie Campbell is a vegan athlete and animal rights activist. She has been a competitive athlete since the age of 9, and currently trains in martial arts, with a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. A big part of her mission is to spread awareness and information about the vegan lifestyle while leading by example. She is the Founder of MeatFreeAthlete.com, A Vegan Resource and Blog. Her motto is "Eat Kind Be Strong."

Anne-Marie_Campbell

Why Vegan?
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
In 2010, I saw a post online about factory farms and the cruelty that comes with it. Before that point, I never thought about where my food came from. I didn't know any vegetarians or vegans, or anyone that spoke about animal welfare issues that concerned those raised for food. For the first time I was seeing terrible pictures and reports of cruelty, and that marked the beginning of my personal journey to making the connection. I started seeking out information online and I was horrified. I didn't want any part of it.

How long have you been vegan?
Since May 2011.

What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
The benefits have been both physical and spiritual. Living a vegan lifestyle has given me a deeper connection with my relationship to the world around me and has given me a greater sense of appreciation and respect for my life and those I share this earth with. I find that when you truly love yourself, you will want to extend that love to others, and you can't do that by exploiting and causing harm to others. As an athlete, there's been a definite improvement to my athletic performance since becoming vegan. I have more energy to train longer & harder, and I recover faster.

What does veganism mean to you?
Living a lifestyle where my actions match my morals. Veganism is much more than what I eat. It represents a way of living that shows my respect for all life, and consciously making the decision to cause no harm. Veganism is my rejection of the traditional elitist attitude that humans are somehow superior or more important than other animals.

Training
What sort of training do you do?
I'm a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, and currently working on earning my 2nd Degree. I also train in MMA, and love yoga. Hockey is also a sport that I played competitively for many years, and I’ll still play recreationally when I have the time.

How often do you (need to) train?
Ideally, I aim to train 3-4 times a week.

Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
I'm not a trainer, but I assist teaching Tae Kwon Do at my dojo, and I am interested in taking on more of an instructor role in TKD in the future.

What sports do you play?
Tae Kwon Do, Hockey, Yoga, MMA, and Roller Hockey.
 
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
A lot people still think you need meat for protein, and that you can't be active and healthy as a vegan. I lead by example to bust those myths at when I train, and also on my website.

What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
My passion is my strength. I have been a competitive athlete since I was 9 years old (starting with gymnastics). I have always loved sports and my passion for athletics keeps me focused on always improving myself and enjoying every minute of it.

What is your biggest challenge?
Injuries are always a challenge, physically and mentally. Being a competitive athlete for so many years, and in full contact sports, I've had pretty much every injury from head to toe, from concussions, dislocated ribs, broken nose, torn muscle, broken feet, ACL, MCL, and other not so fun injuries. The injury cycle is a big challenge, but worth it.

Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
The people around me are really open to the concept of being vegan and how it helps performance. I just lead by example, and if people are interested, I am more than happy to answer their questions and guide them in any way.

Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
My family has been very accepting and really embraced it 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?
Some people seem surprised because I am an athlete, and they wonder how I do it. Also, people will ask what do I eat or how do I do it. Most people seem overwhelmed by the idea of being vegan. I like to show by example how easy it really is, and that being vegan really isn't as hard as it sounds. I will usually suggest some great foods to try that replace meat and dairy, and let them know they should enjoy trying new stuff and don't get overwhelmed by the idea of being vegan. I realize most people won't go vegan over night, so I approach it as a journey, and everyone has their own journey to take.

Who or what motivates you?
I love seeing vegan babies and kids. It’s so inspiring and gives me a great feeling of hope for the future. I absolutely love when parents give their children the gift of an early start at a healthy, compassionate lifestyle.
 
For my activism, I always remember the animals out there being exploited and killed for unnecessary human use. Every single one of them matters. My voice is for them.
 
For my athletics, my motivation comes from my drive to be a better version of myself. I am my only true competition.
 
Food & Supplements

What do you eat for:
Breakfast - Flax oatmeal, banana and almonds, quinoa puffs cereal with organic unsweetened soymilk, or peanut butter with apples and toast.
Lunch - Raw veggies with hummus, tofu summer rolls, mixed bean salads, peanut or almond butter and jelly on organic flax bread, cereal with banana, or mixed nuts and fruit.
Dinner - Mexican refried beans with home made pico de gallo, guacamole, organic TVP (textured vegetable protein), and organic corn chips. Home-made soup with lots of onion, garlic, kale, mushrooms, and lentils. Firm organic tofu or tempeh, with potatoes (sweet or red skin), lots of veggies. Hearty four bean chili, with corn chips and avocado. Pasta with fresh mushrooms, and Field Roast veggie sausages. Quinoa tabouli. To name a few!
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - Organic popcorn with nutritional yeast (great source of B12), apples and peanut or almond butter, mixed nuts and fruit, granola, nachos and salsa, and home made chocolate chip cookies.
 
What is your favourite source of:
Protein - Quinoa, black beans, chickpeas, organic soymilk, tofu, tempeh, whole grain breads and pasta.
Calcium - Kale, almonds, flax seeds, broccoli, bok choy, and soymilk.
Iron - Lentils, quinoa, fortified cereal, chickpeas, tofu or tempeh, and chia seeds.
 
What foods give you the most energy?
Before training, I keep it simple. Beans, raw mushrooms, and spinach drizzled with balsamic is a great combo for me. Also, raw veggies and hummus, or quinoa with black beans or chickpeas with green veggies.

Do you take any supplements? 
No. I don't find that I need them.
 
Advice
What is your top tip for:

Gaining muscle - After training, fuel your body with what it needs to build and repair muscle. Eat clean proteins, like quinoa, beans, tofu or tempeh, for example, with veggies, and hydrate with water.
Losing weight - Listen to your body. Eat when you're hungry, and eat foods that nourish your body. Eat unprocessed foods, and avoid junk food loaded with sugar.
Maintaining weight - Same as above.
Improving metabolism -
Listen to your body. If you feel sluggish after you eat something, it's probably stunting your metabolism too. Also, avoid processed foods with sugar and saturated fats. Eat fresh foods that look closest to the way they were grown. The more natural the food is, the more your body knows how to digest it and thrive from it.
Toning up -
Be active and eat clean, unprocessed foods. It takes work, put in your time and you'll see the results. Find activities you enjoy or are passionate about. Being active shouldn't be a chore - it should be time with yourself that you enjoy.  
 
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I launched http://www.MeatFreeAthlete.com - which is a Vegan Resource and Blog. There are Featured Contributors, including myself, all writing on topics of experience relating to vegan health, fitness, food, and lifestyle. I also have featured vegan athletes each month (Get Featured), and vegan recipes. I write a blog to lead by example, give tips, and help guide and support people transitioning or living a vegan lifestyle.

How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
Get social! There's such a great vegan community online and it's an amazing source of support and information.
Be vocal! Share your experiences, it may just inspire others!
Reach out! You can reach me at http://www.MeatFreeAthlete.com, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

 

 
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