10 questions with vegan athlete Reid Barron
This month we decided to let friend and vegan Athlete Reid Barron choose the charity we are donating to. We asked Reid ten questions relating to veganism and why he chose Paradise Pastures as the charity of the month.
1) Why did I go vegan and and at what age?
I wanted to become fitter, run faster, lose weight and get stronger. I started on a week long green smoothie cleanse to detox the fast food that was the majority of my diet at the time. Around the same time I learnt a lot about the intense suffering non -human animals endured at the hands of humans and learnt that the suffering was largely unnecessary. I didn't want to be contributing to this and decided to go vegan. I was 38 years old at the time.
2) How long have you been vegan?
Since 6th December 2016. 5 years and 4 months.
3) Did you notice any health benefits after going vegan?
Yes I felt more energetic, lost weight and my skin cleared up.
4) How has a vegan diet affected me as an athlete and what's the longest run I have ever done?
I lost weight and got stronger which contributed to me getting faster and faster. I started focusing heavily on Parkrun, a free community timed 5km run on Saturday mornings all across Perth, Australia and the world. My 5km time went from the mid 22 min range to a 18min and 12second personal best in a matter of a couple of years. I also ran my first marathon during this period. My longest run to date is 80km, which I'm currently training towards exceeding.
5) Top tips for people wanting to go vegan.
a) Learn as much as you can about the reason why you are going vegan? Is it for health, the environment or to help non-human animals out of their suffering? With a strong why you will become vegan for life and have a strong desire to create a positive change in the world which is much needed in our society. There's much confusion about the best way to eat and armed with the knowledge and desire you will become a great advocate for the movement and also meet some great people along the way who will become lifelong friends. Your life is about to become immensely richer and more meaningful.
b) For new vegans wanting to participate in endurance sports I have found that incorporating more healthy fats into my diet is helpful in reducing my appetite and helping me sustain long runs. To become a fat adapted athlete I train my body to use fat as a preferred fuel source rather than simply just relying on carbohydrates. I've ditched the gels and have found foods such as nuts and, nut butters, salads with olives and olive oil and non fibrous vegetables (such as cucumber, capsicum, broccoli and cauliflower) helpful to sustain long runs.
I've also started incorporating more strength training with weights and flexibility work such as stretching and yoga which is helpful in between training sessions.
I think it's important to be a healthy vegan to show people how amazing it is to be vegan rather than just telling people to go vegan. I also practice intermittent and sustained fasting protocols to become a fat adapted athlete.
As I shift gears to build my running base toward ultra marathons and longer triathlons my training is predominantly at a comfortable pace building my aerobic capacity. I also incorporate some interval/ speed session to improve my anaerobic fitness that helps with shorter races such as the 5 and 10k distances. I get my protein predominantly from tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds, legumes, oats and plant based protein powders low in sugar and preferably sweetened with stevia.
6) Why did I pick Paradise Pastures Sanctuary as charity of the month?
A good friend of mine Bako Bako is involved with this sanctuary along with the founder Bobby Kerr. They are both passionate about stopping live export and saving the most desperate and neglected sheep from slaughter.
Bako is down at Freo every time a live export death ship rolls in documenting and advocating to bring an end to this cruel trade. Bako is one of the most committed animal rights advocates I know. He hasn't missed activism event in the time he's been in Perth, as well as devoting the majority of his savings to the Sanctuary.
Bobby is a retired vet who uses her skills to provide love and kindness to the sheep. Going to the sanctuary was a life changing experience for me as I experienced sheep jump up on me as I was feeding them wheat bix and I got to realize the selflessness and love these two amazing humans provide for these sheep that were in desperate need of love, kindness and a second chance at life.
As a smaller and less known sanctuary I think they don't receive as much support as the larger Perth based sanctuaries. I know any help given is greatly appreciated.
7) What would I say to all the non-vegans if I was speaking on stage to the world?
Why not try the vegan lifestyle? There's nothing to lose and everything to gain. As humans we all experience suffering whether it be the loss of: a job, a loved one, a relationship, a companion animal or we may even suffer poor health outcomes or a disease. We don't want to suffer so why would we want to contribute to the unnecessary suffering of others?
We live in a culture where not only is eating animals accepted but it's promoted as better for our health than being vegan. It's considered a luxury in the form of leather and fur and going to the races on Melbourne cup day is a rite of passage, a celebration.
But having been both a meat eater and a vegan I can say wholeheartedly that nothing tastes as good as being vegan feels and that helping create a more compassionate, kind and loving world is truly life changing and so much more rewarding than a few moments of palate pleasure.
8) What activism have I done and what's my favorite type.
I have done all sorts of activism, from vocal non violent direct action protests with megaphones outside butcher shops, fast food and fine dining restaurants in Perth, to Animal Rights Marches chanting and holding signs and banging drums walking through shopping centers and eating precincts. I've held TV sets showcasing footage of Dominion and discussed animal agriculture and slaughterhouse practices with the public at Cubes of Truth.
My favorite type of activism is running and competing in triathlons in my Vegan Runners T shirts and shirts with slogans such as 'The Future is vegan'. As time passes I realize being a great example of a fit and healthy vegan is one of the best ways to advocate and my favorite as it shows people how healthy being vegan is rather than telling others to be vegan.
I have found it's easier to change ourselves than change the world and coming from a place of empathy, love and kindness to advocate respectfully and passionately is invaluable. Being a fit and healthy vegan attracts others to the movement and also helps us feel great about ourselves in the process fueling the passion and able to show up and be present to other forms of activism when opportunities arise.
9) How do I see the vegan movement progressing?
To be completely honest there's quite bit of infighting within the movement about the best way to advocate.
I think it's important to respect different forms of being vegan.
They say if every vegan helped one person go vegan a year we would have a vegan world within 8 years. I truly feel being the fit, healthy, kind, non judgmental vegan is critical. I've tried telling others to be vegan, arguing with others that aren't ready to change.
I realized that we need to be our healthiest, most loving, accepting and present versions of ourselves to attract and show others what's possible on a vegan diet. With patience, passion and education we can attract others and show the benefits of being vegan, rather than trying to force or tell them to be vegan. I think changing our mindset in this way is critical to achieving more positive interactions and outcomes.
In order to sell anything people need to trust, respect and like you. Putting a positive frequency into the world enables us to help inspire the change we want to see in the world, showcasing our vibrancy and sharing our vegan transformation story.
I think becoming active is critical and direct action events definitely have a place. Talking to others with respect, love and kindness while standing up for non human animal’s rights is a balance and one that can be achieved through honest and respectful communication.
10) What do you think are the biggest barriers are for people going vegan.
I think sadly veganism is seen as a bit of a cult to others. People may see vegans as preachy, self righteous with a superiority complex and think vegans are out of touch with the reality of evolution, the growth of the human brain as carnivores and that eating animals is part of the 'circle of life'.
People can see veganism as radical/ extreme, even unhealthy, having to take supplements and the like.
Many men associate eating animals with being strong and good providers for their families. Many meat eaters don't want to just eat salad and believe that's what they would have to do. '
They don't know how to be vegan and wouldn't think it's worth the effort, it's easier to stick to what they know.
Many people love the taste of animals, Carnism is so culturally accepted and the dominant belief system. In many instances carnism it's promoted as the most beneficial diet this includes: within families, at school, within communities, by the government and by animal product producers.
Many people want to follow the crowd and not cause a scene by being different. They want fit in with the majority and believe that by becoming vegan they may feel like outsiders within their social structures.
We face many challenges, struggles and difficulties as vegan advocates. However the eternal struggle in turn encourages us to be healthier, stronger, better communicators. We should be grateful to have the knowledge, passion and resourcefulness to create meaningful change.
If not us then who?
If not now then when?