Unless you have been living under a rock (or pleasantly avoiding Piers Morgan’s rants, in which case fair play to you), you’ll know that we are currently just over halfway through Veganuary, a month where folk are welcome to try Veganism for it’s entirety to see how they find it.
After being vegetarian for two and a half years, my husband and I thought we would give Veganuary a go. As I had a few thoughts as to whether being a vegan would have a detrimental affect on my training abilities (spoiler alert, it hasn’t in the slightest), I interviewed four awesome pole dancers Jess, Jo, Anna and Kassia, who are all smashing it as vegan pole dancers!
First off, how long have you been a vegan for?
Kassia – I celebrated my two year veganversary on 24th December 2019 (yes I became vegan the day before Christmas!)
Anna – I’m fairly new to being fully vegan – a few months in now! However I was vegetarian for nearly two years before that.
Jess – Seven years, eight in March!
Jo – Two years. I was vegetarian for about 13 years, ate meat for 2/3 then turned vegan.
Kassia killing it on the UKPPC stage back in 2018.
What made you want to turn vegan initially?
Kassia – My mum has been vegetarian since before I was born, so I was already introduced to meat alternatives throughout my life. She turned to veganism 1 year before I did and I really wanted to try it. The more I learnt about the industry, the more it affected me. Then one day I just decided. Fuck it, I’ll start right away. And I did! I’ll admit I found it very easy but I already didn’t like milk and most meat so cheese was my only obstacle!
Anna – I was a hugely enthusiastic meat eater before, and went vegetarian literally overnight. One of my friends had gone vegan after watching a documentary about animal welfare on Netflix. I had a big debate with them at a party about how I thought all those kind of documentaries were massively biased, how they use extreme footage from other countries, how the UK welfare standards are amazing, etc etc. The next day, hungover as all hell, I decided to try and prove my point by finding THE most completely unbiased resource I could – the government best practice documents for welfare and slaughter. These include timings for how quickly you should aim to kill an animal after it has been stunned. I also found in it timings for how long animals stay unconscious after being stunned. Those timings do not match up. They just don’t. I sat on my sofa and cried inconsolably for a good hour, and haven’t touched meat since.
I went vegan in a similar way. I read a Farmers Weekly article entitled “8 steps to artificially inseminating your cow”, which is complete with illustrations. There are things buttholes should not have to do.
Jess – The animals, I’m such a softie for all creatures, except spiders! When I was growing up I didn’t eat a lot of meat and I’ve never eaten red meat in my life but as I grew up and started to learn about the farming industry, I started to feel guilty whenever I did eat it.
Jo-I don’t enjoy animal products enough for the impact they have on the world and the animals.
Jess looking strong as fuck in an illuminated moonbeam.
Is there a difference between the terms “vegan” and “plant based diet” or are they the same thing?
Kassia – Yes they are different. Plant based refers only to dietary choices and isn’t really a moral, usually a health, decision. Whereas vegans refer to those who choose not to eat, buy or use any products that have animal products in or harm animals in the process of making the products. This includes beauty products that test on animals. My favourite definition is ‘doing as much as possible to avoid consuming or using anything that harms animals.’ Some things are much harder than others to stay away from, for example tattoo ink or lack of affordable choices in shops. Things are already much easier then they were even when I first turned Vegan, so I am sure this will only keep getting easier. My favourite place for beauty products is Peace with the wild.
Anna – Vegan and plant based are very different for a few reasons! Firstly, veganism is generally related to ethics – and therefore usually bleeds into more than what you eat, whereas plant based is purely diet. Also vegan food includes plenty of unhealthy things (holla Oreos), whereas plant based involves no processed food.
Jess – I believe that when you chose a plant based diet you are doing so for the diet and health benefits and that is great. For me being vegan is about having respect for all creatures and the planet and wanting to better yourself.
Jo – I think of it Vegan is more a ethos and includes aspects outside of diet. Being a vegan includes excluding animal products from clothing, household and personal care products, (often also having products not tested on animals, however many beauty products labelled vegan are tested on animals.) Plant based diet is eating foods that don’t contain animal products.
I’d absolutely smash Jo’s curry tbh!
If you switched to veganism when you were already a pole dancer, did you notice a change in your strength at all?
Kassia – I didn’t really notice any changes. But definitely NOT weaker! Which I know is a big worry for people. When I first when vegan I also started a strict diet plan so felt pretty great. This could have been the food or could have been the being 1.5 stone lighter.
Anna – When cutting out meat, I honestly noticed absolutely no difference at all in my strength or energy. The impact on my life, good or bad, was pretty much zero. When I cut out dairy and eggs, I noticed a huge difference in my energy levels! I feel much more awake and can concentrate better. I haven’t noticed any difference in my strength
Jess – I was already vegan when I started pole.
Jo – I’d been poling for about 3 years. I think I did feel better but I started eating a lot more whole foods when I turned vegan because I was paying more attention to my food. So not sure if it was being vegan or not eating chicken nuggets all the time.
Does Anna look protein deficient to you? Didn’t think so.
What are your favourite pre and post training snacks?
Kassia – Depends on the time of day! I just eat my normal meals around my training and eat bananas, nuts, rice cakes etc during training as I get hungry very quickly (always have done, even before veganism). Then I’ll just eat my normal meal after, whatever that time may be.
Anna – At the moment, for snacks, I love apple with peanut butter. Oh my god. I don’t know why that combo is so good, but oh my GOD.
Jess – Bagels and peanut butter. A banana. Banana dipped in peanut butter… Peanut butter.
Jo – I’ve recently started liking more whole food old school vegan food. For snacks the classic banana is my solid go to. But I love the vegetable Jamaican patties you get in supermarkets, they are normally 80p and available everywhere. I’ve got a soft spot for Percy pigs.
One of Anna’s delicious creations.
What also are your favourite meals to cook that give you a shite load of energy for training?
Kassia – Loads of different types but my current favourite is lentil or bean pasta (can buy from Sainsburys) with a tomato bean sauce, lots of kidney bean and butter beans, veg, garlic and herbs! Made at home with tinned tomato as the sauce. Food high in carbs, micro nutrients and protein is key for someone who trains alot! Super quick and easy to make too, which is a bonus.
A – My fave breakfast at the moment is overnight oats – I mix together half a cup of rolled oats, a tbsp of chia seeds, a tbsp of flaxmeal, a cup of chocolate soya milk, and a scoop of peanut butter in a jar, and put it in the fridge overnight ready for the morning.
Jess – My favourite meal to cook is something I created, peanut paella. It’s tomatoey and creamy with loads of veggies and chick peas in. I can’t get enough of it! I usually cook 4 portions and my husband and I devour the lot in one sitting.
Jo-Fried rice with vegetables and Katsu curry with rice. Vegan Oowee is a weakness.
What advice can you give to pole dancers who are considering switching to veganism?
Kassia – Do your research. It is necessary to supplement things like B12, the Omegas, Vit Ds. I won’t pretend I know everything, these are just some examples! B12 is a super important one for all athletes, not just vegans, as exercise depletes B12. Get separate supplements rather than a multi.
If you’re going to get professional dietary advice see a dietician or highly qualified nutritionist who specialises in veganism. I’ve had some awful meal plans given to me. Lucy Provenzano is great as she is a dietician and does pole, so gets it!
Get as many different types of proteins as possible. Beans, lentils, nuts, soy, tofu etc. This will ensure that you get as many BCAAS (Branched-chain amino acids) in as possible. Don’t have processed proteins every day, but don’t feel bad for eating them a few times a week.
Soy isn’t bad for you! Make sure you look up anything you read on the socials. There is a lot of bad press surrounding veganism, lots of myths come with that!
Join lots of Facebook groups, this helped me in the beginning. Just be aware there is a lot of trolling so don’t get involved, just enjoy the comments!
Anna – For advice, make it fun! There’s a lot of novelty in trying different “replacements”, different meals, new restaurants. Some of it will be great, some will be shit. I didn’t realise how much I LOVE cooking until I went vegan. It’s just been so fun. You are not “losing” anything. There is so much amazing food that you now have the motivation to try! Experiment!
Jess – Just do it! It’s so easy these days. So many people have allergies so food is always clearly labelled. Just make sure you’re eating a balanced diet (obviously!) and try to keep it as unprocessed as possible. Meat substitutes are great at imitiating these days but that doesn’t mean they are healthy!
Jo – It’s so much easier than you think, it’s relatively cheap if you eat foods that are vegan instead of substitute items. Often the cheap versions of junk food are vegan like Tesco value garlic bread is, gingernuts, frozen apple strudel etc. IG accounts like the @uglyvegan and @nowyouknowitsvegan are so helpful. Little steps go a big way for changing how you think about animal products being center to meal. Everyone messes up so don’t beat yourself up.
Lastly, what is the one, go to Vegan food that you love that you recommend everyone tries? For me it’s Linda McCartney’s “pulled pork” burgers!
Kassia – CHOCOLATE CUP CAKES (pictured above)! Home made and so easy. Here is the recipe (I just make them in to cup cakes): https://veggiedesserts.co.uk/best-vegan-chocolate-cake/ and I’ll include a picture of mine
Anna – For food I recommend, I have the best vegan brownie recipe on my insta story highlights (@frostdance) which fools everyone. If you’re not into baking, my favourite ‘replacements’ are Vivera steaks (which are like a meaty burger thing – not actually like steaks), and Ben & Jerrys peanut butter and cookies vegan ice cream. Bangin.’
Jess – I’m a self confessed pizza fiend. You can get vegan pizza from Morrisons now, for me that’s pretty dangerous! Also if you’re ever in Bristol get yourself a vegan Oowee. Thei dirty chicken fries are out of this world!
Jo – If you are in Bristol the suncraft donuts with ice-cream. Applewood vegan smoked cheese Oatly barista milk or just chickpeas.
Last but not least, seeing as it was a popular choice, here is a sexy photo of aVegan Oowee, PHOAR!