I met Meagan about 5 years ago through her sister Heather. Since meeting her, Meagan and her partner Eric have been around the world winning Canadian and World pair figure skating championships. At not even 5 feet tall this energetic muscle house is not only super talented and dedicated but also shows the world you can reach the top of your professional sport as a vegan. When I first met Meagan she was just switching over to being a vegan and since that time she went to nutrition school (in the middle of all her training & competitions) to better herself and her future after skating. She has more energy then anyone I know, I remember after her sister's wedding in Sudbury, the next morning we went to her parents for breakfast. Everyone was super tired or hung over. Not a drinker herself, she came to the breakfast after a 5 or 10 km run and still had energy. No wonder her and Eric are now 2013 World Bronze Medalists & Canadian champions...on the road to the 2014 Olympics. While she was in Japan last month she took the time to answer some of my questions.
Kim - Why did you decide to become a Vegan, especially right in the middle of your career? Were you ever a vegetarian?
Meagan- I was never a vegetarian. I went from eating anything to becoming a vegan overnight. I read a book called "Skinny Bitch" and I couldn't put the book down. I decided to try to become a vegan immediately. The book suggested to slowly ween into becoming a vegan but I wanted to try right away so I went for it.
Kim -Have you seen an improvement in your energy, body, muscle and performance since becoming a vegan?
Meagan - I have seen major improvements since I became a vegan. My energy levels are better, I sleep better, my skin is better and I feel calmer, more patient and more compassionate.
Kim - What do you consider your main source of fuel now? ie a carb, fat, protein
Meagan - I don't think I have a main source of fuel, but I try to eat a variety of foods. I don't eat the same thing everyday, I try to switch it up. Some mornings before training I have a lot of proteins and some mornings I just have a bowl of oatmeal. It depends on my mood.
Kim - Before a major competition what do you do to prepare for it food wise? Or anything you do extra to fuel yourself for your performance?
Meagan - I don't eat any differently before a performance, unless of course I'm in another country where vegan food is limited. But mostly I try to eat the same as I would on a daily basis. I don't eat right before I compete, I will eat a few hours beforehand. The one thing I do before training or any performance is I have an amino acid water. They have amino acid powders in Japan that you put into water and I have noticed a big difference in my focus and strength when I drink these.
Kim - Do you a main/favorite/ or any type of recovering drink after a major workout or competition?
Meagan - Water! Always water. For before, during or after training. I drink almost 9-10 L of water daily.
Kim- Do you have a favorite food/recipe/go to meal?
Meagan - I like the Green Monster smoothie from ohsheglows blog, and the Iron women smoothie. I try to drink these a few times a week as it gives me good nutrients for energy. I also eat alot of quinoa and broccoli for dinner. I like to make homemade granola for snacks with buckwheat groats and other nuts and seeds.
Kim- What would you say to young skaters that were thinking about becoming a vegan, especially before puberty?
Meagan - I would encourage anyone who wants to start a vegan diet. I think it's a great lifestyle and could lead to many positives. I would suggest doing as much research as possible but I don't see any harm in starting a vegan diet as an athlete, before or after puberty. The nutrients and health benefits you get from a whole food, vegan diet are endless and if it is done properly it can be life changing.
Kim - You travel all over the world, do you find it hard to eat/eat well or are there better places then others?
Meagan - It is difficult to organize my food when I travel. Some places, like Asia, offer so much selection for me. They eat a lot of healthy foods, esp. in Japan. For breakfast in Japan I can have steamed spinach, sweet potatoes and miso soup. They offer rice and vegetables for other meals and always have things like buckwheat or udon noodles. They have great selection. In France I tend to have the more difficult time. I've noticed that most restaurants don't serve vegetables. It is always hard for me when I travel to France so I try to be as prepared as possible by bringing my own snacks, dried fruit, trail mix, granola, oatmeal, etc. Then I find a market as soon as possible and get some bananas, kiwis and vegetables. Russia is ok for healthy foods, but I can only eat so much cabbage! And they love cabbage there!
Kim- Do you have a favorite snack?
Meagan - My favourite snack is bananas. I love bananas. I also love crackers. Kashi sea salt are my favourite.
Kim -Is your diet very strict during training seasons or as you prepare for the Olympics?
Meagan - My diet hasn't changed in 4 years, since becoming a vegan. I don't have to watch what I eat anymore because everything I put in my body with my vegan diet is healthy. Other course, white bread and chips are vegan, but I don't eat these empty calories. I see many skaters/athletes counting calories and being very careful but because my diet consists of only fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, I find it easy to eat a lot, eat healthy and not have to worry.
Kim -What does a typical day look like when you are training food, sleep and exercise wise?
Meagan - I wake up every morning at 5:30 am. I have a coffee and do some yoga stretching before eating breakfast. Usually I eat a smoothie or oatmeal. I go to the rink at 7:00 and warm up with pilates and muscle activation before going on the ice at 8:00-11:30. During this time we have a 15 minute break, where I always, always eat a banana. After training I stretch for about half an hour. I don't eat a big lunch, I just munch on snacks throughout the afternoon. Kiwis, granola mix, granola bars, coconut yogurt, crackers with peanut butter, kale chips, homemade muffins, all sorts of things! Then twice a week we go to see our trainer and twice a week we go skate more with our choreographer. When we see our trainer we do dynamic cardio training for 90 minutes. After that I usually go home and I am exhausted. I make dinner and relax for the evening. Dinner varies night to night from big salads with quinoa, to steamed vegetables with rice or quinoa, burritos, casseroles, whatever I am in the mood to try! I often order food from the local vegan restaurant as well when I don't feel like cooking something. To add to this schedule, on Monday nights I go to pilates class and on Tuesday nights I play on a dodgeball team. Wednesday I go for a 90 minute sport massage to make sure my body and muscles are healthy. I have my weekends off but I usually have another massage Sunday mornings before I do hot yoga class.
Kim - Do you find now since being a vegan you recover quicker and better now from intense training?
Meagan - I do find my recovery time is quicker since I have become a vegan. But most importantly, my energy is better therefore allowing me to do more training.
Kim - Have you removed gluten and if so has that made a big difference as well?
Meagan - I haven't completely removed gluten but I do eat a lot of gluten free foods. My body reacts fine to gluten so I don't have to be careful about that.
Kim -Do you "look up" to any other pro athletes that are on a plant base diet?
Meagan - I don't know any athletes personally that are on a plant based diet except for George LeRocque, the former hockey player. I wish I knew more!!!
Kim - Has your diet changed since finishing or taking Nutrition in School? (congratulations on that)
Meagan - My diet has shifted a bit since I studied nutrition. I try to eat a more balanced diet now and I focus on my food combinations and vitamins and minerals more. I am more aware now of everything I put into my body. I also eat more raw and organic foods now since I studied nutrition.
Kim -What are your future goals?
Meagan - My future goals are to medal next winter at the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia and continue to skate for a few years afterwards, pushing my limits and pushing the sport of pairs figure skating. Then I would like to get my personal training certification and work with athletes on their training and nutrition.