They call me "Jacked on the Beanstalk." And by them, I mean me. I am a two-time winning vegan bikini athlete, certified personal trainer, bikini pro in two organizations (WNBF & NFF) and author of “Jacked on the Beanstalk: Plant-Based Fuel for Vegan Athletes.” A Journalism graduate and meat-free since eight years old, I share my tips and experiences via my blog at www.JackedontheBeanstalk.com. I am also a member of the PlantBuilt vegan muscle team, brand ambassador for Nature's Food Nutrition and a featured blogger at MeatFreeAthlete.com.
I am a self-proclaimed "vegan fitness expert." What exactly does that mean? Well, like many other vegan fitness freaks, I am a personal trainer and I blog. But my biggest claim to vegan fame is that I'm a two-time winning vegan bikini competitor and the first-ever vegan WNBF bikini pro. I'm the biggest meatless meathead there is. And when I'm not sharing tips, recipes and workouts on my blog, I'm helping others reach their health and fitness goals via customized online training programs and vegan competition diet meal plans.
Areas of Expertise: Bodybuilding, Bulking, Gluten Free, Nutrition, Toning, Weight Gain, Weight Loss
Services: Consulting, Meal Planning, Personal Training, Coaching
Credentials: ACE Certified, Champion Bodybuilder, Personal Trainer, Professional Athlete
Availability: In person, Online, Phone
I grew up in a small “hunting town” outside of Ottawa, Ontario in a log house in the middle of the forest. We didn’t have cable TV, we had nature. My mom was my biggest hero, always feeding the birds, raccoons & deer, taking in stray cats and even raising orphaned baby squirrels. Sometimes we would have 30 deer behind our house and it would literally break our hearts to see them disappear every fall when hunting season was on. I just couldn’t understand how people could hunt and kill such beautiful, sweet creatures. So at the tender age of eight, I became vegetarian. I went vegan in 2011 when I learned more about the dairy industry and realized that animals were still dying because of my milk and egg consumption.
Being the ONLY vegetarian kid in a small town for most of my younger years, I'm used to missing out on "Pizza" or "Hot Dog Day" so I've never really let my dietary restrictions bother me. Hell, I brought cans of beans in my suitcase to Cuba last year! The key is being prepared. Making the switch to vegan definitely makes things a little more difficult. And I definitely salivate over many dairy and egg-filled desserts at social functions from time to time. But being a vegan fitness competitor, I consider it a blessing that I can't eat them. Otherwise, I'd no doubt be looking pretty UN-FIT. When I'm going out to eat, I try to suggest places I know I can get something vegan. Most restaurants are very accommodating nowadays anyway. And when I'm in my hometown or other non-vegan-friendly locales, I can always order fries or salad :) When you make something a priority, you make it a priority. Being vegan is part of who I am. Sometimes I have to miss out because of it. But that's okay because I put animals before food.
I just gave a presentation at Veg Expo in Vancouver yesterday on vegan bodybuilding and knew that I had to include a few slides on WHY I'm vegan. It's great that people are going vegan because of the many health benefits but it's important for others to know that I am an ETHICAL vegan and the heath perks are just a bonus. I presented the audience with a lot of shocking statistics and included a few images that definitely opened up peoples' eyes. I try to support the local British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA) as much as possible and most recently, I participated in the Vancouver Walk for Farm Animals. I've also been a long-time supporter of the Humane Society of Canada.
Now that I'm helping to raise money for my PlantBuilt team, I've definitely fallen in love with one of our Australian animal rescues: Edgar's Mission. I also hold a special place in my heart for "Hearts on Noses" (a pig rescue) in Mission, BC and "The Bird Lady" at the Wild Bird Care Center in Ottawa, where I grew up. She rescues, rehabilitates and releases injured and orphaned birds and has been doing this since 1981!
To anyone considering going vegan, first and foremost I would say, good for you for wanting to make the switch. That's the first HUGE step! Definitely educate yourself by readings books on factory farming and watching documentaries like Earthlings. And remember this whenever you want to throw in the "vegan towel:" you CAN live without chicken wings. Chickens, on the other hand, CANNOT. Don't be afraid to make the transition slowly. If you’re a meat eater, try going vegetarian first or incorporate just two or three vegan meals into your diet every week. And if you’re already vegetarian, try to only eat vegan at home and allow yourself cheese or milk when you’re dining out or as a “special treat” only. That’s how I began the transition from vegetarian to vegan and I found it was quite easy. Also, there are so many vegan options available nowadays that anyone can replace common comfort foods like cheese or milk with a dairy-free substitute. I try not to eat a lot of processed foods but the fake meat products are yummy substitutes for people in the transition phase. Mmmmm Gardein Schezwan Beefless Tips...
I have had MANY experiences with animals that have left an impression on me! But I'll share one that I've never shared anywhere else online. I lived downtown Ottawa for a couple of years with my older sister. Ottawa winters are FREEZING. And one day, we looked outside from our balcony and noticed this rabbit in a cage in our neighbour's backyard. It had no blankets in its cage or anything covering it. It was also snowing heavily. Our neighbour was an older Eastern European man who regularly ate wild animals so we knew that was the fate for this little guy too. We called the Humane Society because the temperature was supposed to drop below freezing that night but they said there was nothing they could do. Apparently it was perfectly legal for our neighbour to kill and eat this rabbit?! That didn't sit well with us. So at 2:30am, decked out in all black, I hopped the fence and stole the rabbit. My sister was waiting on the other side of the fence and brought him into our apartment. We named him "Benjamin" and kept him for a couple of weeks before we found him a new home on a farm near my parents' house. To this day, Benjamin is still live and well and the family says he's the perfect family pet :)