She’s taking social media by storm these days, and if you haven’t already come across Meat Free Athlete Anne-Marie Campbell on the web, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, we at the Toronto Vegetarian Association thought you’d really benefit from getting to know her. Here she is, in conversation with Toronto Vegetarian Association volunteer Bonnie Shulman.
You’ve been a hard-core athlete since childhood and became a hard-core vegan athlete in 2011. Did the change to plant-based eating change your athletic performance?
I’ve had a great improvement in my athletic performance since I switched to plant based vegan food! I have much more energy to train harder and longer, and my recovery is quicker. For many years, as a competitive athlete, I have tried to find the perfect energy boosting performance meal, but it wasn’t until I became vegan that I finally found it. One of my best performance meals is a bean mix, with raw kale or spinach, and raw mushrooms, drizzled with balsamic.
Did other athletes and perhaps even your coaches try to dissuade you from going meatless? If so, what were their primary concerns?
No one has tried to convince me to go back to eating meat. I earned my Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do as a Meat Free Athlete and my performance during my Muay Thai/MMA training proves that I am healthy and strong. Some people are curious and ask questions, and I’m happy to share what I know about vegan plant based nutrition and how it will benefit their performance.
Forgive me, but I have to ask it, if only so that we veggies get a definitive answer from someone who makes a living being physically strong: where do you get your protein?
My favourite sources of vegan protein are black beans, chick peas, quinoa, organic unsweetened soy milk, and tempeh. I don’t restrict myself by counting calories or limiting portions. I eat what my body asks for. If you eat enough and a good variety, you will get all the protein and nutrition you need to be healthy and optimize your performance.
You’ve got a brilliant online media empire, from your extensive website, to a loyal following on social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. From the feedback you’re getting, do you sense a shift happening in attitudes towards the choice to go meatless?
Definitely! People are becoming more open minded to the possibility of going meat free, and the internet is such an amazing way to reach people. My goal is to help people transition into a compassionate vegan lifestyle with support, information, and leading by example.
You divide your time between Toronto and St. Louis. We know there’s a vibrant veggie scene in Toronto – what’s it like out in the heartland of the US by comparison?
The majority of my time is spent in Toronto, where I live full time. I lived in St. Louis for a short while because that’s where my wife is from, so we try to visit there often. I visit many cities in the US and it’s great to see that the vegan community is growing everywhere. I’m excited to see the growth ten years from now.
If you’re in Toronto for the Vegetarian Food Festival (September 6-8), which event or lecture is a must-see for you?
I’m really looking forward to the Toronto Veg Fest! I love all the great vegan food, booths, guest speakers, performances, and being around so many awesome, compassionate people. I’m definitely going to check out the panel of ultra athletes with Rich Roll and Georges Laraque; the President of the Farm Sanctuary, Gene Baur; and Liz Marshall of The Ghosts in Our Machine.