Posted by Ashlee Evans-Smith @AshleeES
Official Creators profile for Ashlee Evans-Smith
Ashlee Evans-Smith

I’ve been an athlete since I was 15-years-old. I went vegetarian at 20-years-old and vegan at 28. Now that a timeline has been established, you understand that I did not grow up eating chia seed pudding, veggie burgers and tofu hot dogs. However, those do sound tasty as hell to me.

I was an extremely unhealthy kid who ate Velveta mac n’ cheese with little chopped up hot dogs, $5 Little Caesar's pepperoni pizzas and chased the ice-cream man down the street to buy any sugary treat I could get my little hands on.

Over the years, I slowly started taking out meat and animal products from my diet. Being a high-school wrestler who came from the mac n’ cheese life, I had to learn the hard way how to cut weight properly and what good nutrition was.

I found that most meat and animal by-products were hindering my athletic performance, making weight loss harder and it just didn't sit right with me on an ethical or moral level. So, I went to the dark side…or is it the light side?

Anyway, I’m vegan now and performing better than I ever have in my athletic career.

I can tell you that a week doesn't go buy that I’m not asked “How do you get enough protein to be an athlete if you're vegan?” or “What can you eat besides salad?” or “Can you still eat ‘Animal Crackers?”

Yes…they really ask me that last one.

Here's some of the common questions I get, and the answers.

Isn’t it hard to find stuff to eat?

No. Any dish you eat, I can make or order vegetarian/vegan. I’ve even pigged out at Korean BBQ with teammates and left full and satisfied. Take a walk through a store like Whole Foods, Sprouts or Trader Joes and ask me that question again.

Don’t you feel tired? How are your energy levels?

Probably better than yours. Eating a plant based diet will only increase your energy levels. Meat tends to make most people lethargic. You never hear of a vegan in a “food-coma” after their Tofurkey dinner at Thanksgiving.

Aren’t you hungry all the time? I just don’t get full on vegan food.

No. I don’t eat pounds of kale w/low fat dressing. (Well,unless i’m in fight camp). There are SO many filling dishes with veggies, grains, beans, tofu, pasta & protein packed imitation meat that will have you asking for a doggie bag for your left overs. You just gotta look outside the salad… I mean box.

Where do you get your protein from?

Beans, nuts, legumes, grains like tempeh, Seitan, dark green veggies, shakes/bars, tofu, imitation meats like “Fakin’ Bacon” “Frickin” (fake chicken) etc. I got 99 problems but PROTEIN AIN’T ONE!

Why do you care about the animals so much?

It's the animals, the environment, the future generations who will suffer from our lack of sustainability. Guess my heart isn’t as black as I thought.

Don’t you get tired of being teased?

I’ve got thick skin and it takes more than some vegan jokes to hurt my feelings. Besides, it starts with a joke and usually turns into an informative conversation that has the teaser’s interest peaked and myths put to rest. My job is done.