Today we are talking with plant-strong body builder, Marcella Torres! Marcella has been plant-strong for 10 years and has been a body builder for the past 4 years. She is married to Derek Tresize, who we interviewed a few weeks ago. We included some of your questions from Facebook and Twitter as well!
E2: What got you started on the path to becoming plant-strong?
MT: My best friend gave me a copy of Diet for a New America to read about eleven years ago. A chapter or two was all it took for me to throw out every scrap of meat, dairy, and eggs in the house! So it was initially an ethical decision for me but as a logical – even “science-y”, if you will – sort of person, I’m now powerfully motivated by the diet’s efficiency and sustainability and the compelling biological evidence in its favor.
E2: Did you face any criticism for your decision?
MT: Not from friends and family – but I remember people in general reacting with a lot more hostility to the idea than they do now. A lot has changed in the past decade!
E2: A lot of people think that if someone is already healthy there is no need for them to eat plant strong, what would you say to them? Is this way of eating for people who are already healthy as well?
MT: If someone already acknowledges that eating plant strong would result in better health, they need to ask themselves if they truly are healthy “enough” if they know they can do more. Choosing a diet that promotes long-term health is key; you may be thin right now, and you may be an athlete right now but neither of these things guarantees optimal health.
E2: What is the most rewarding thing about being plant-strong?
MT: Unlimited reserves of energy to draw on!
E2: What is the easiest/best way to start improving my overall health/diet?
Add green vegetables! Eat a large green salad with lunch and dinner and include some sort of green, in soup form, as a side dish, or as the main dish at every meal. Green vegetables are protein-rich and, unlike animal products, contain tons of other health-promoting nutrients and no cholesterol or saturated fat
E2: What does an average weekly menu look like?
In part two of my Outline of a Plant-Based Diet series, I gave a blueprint of our weekly menus! Find it here: http://www.veganmuscleandfitness.com/outline-of-a-whole-food-plant-based-diet-part-ii/
E2: How important are calories as a bodybuilder? How do you insure you are eating enough for muscle gain? What do you limit to lose bodyfat?
Calories are extremely important for a bodybuilder, and ensuring that you get enough from quality food will solve just about any issue with gaining mass. Also, if you eat enough calories from a variety of whole plant foods, you will get enough protein, so focus on eating enough calories first. Experimentation is really the best way to determine how many calories are enough: track what you eat and how you train and take pictures of yourself as you go. Derek and I have each spent years experimenting with our diets and documenting the results, and so far we have discovered that the best way to lose fat without losing muscle is to restrict fat while still consuming a lot of complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes! Seems obvious, but it’s customary even for vegan bodybuilders to restrict carbohydrates to some extent in order to lose fat – and it’s not necessary!
How are your expectations or goals different from a non-vegan? Or are you capable of all the same goals or expectations?
MT: My goal is the same – in my case, as with most bodybuilders, it’s to keep body fat down while increasing muscle mass. My expectations are quite different in some ways, however. I expect to eat more as a vegan, because plant foods are not as anabolic (growth-promoting) as animal foods. Personally, I prefer eating more to restricting calories! I also expect to restrict fat in my diet rather than carbohydrates, whereas non-vegan bodybuilders severely restrict carbohydrates (by my standards).
E2: What meals do you eat when you’re busy and need something fast?
Canned beans (rinsed) are a lifesaver. Dried beans are more economical, but I always keep a few cans on hand for when I’m short on time. It takes about 7 minutes to combine canned chickpeas, diced veggies, and whole wheat couscous for a quick lunch, and about 10 minutes to combine kidney beans, tomato sauce, chili powder, diced veggies and a sweet potato for a very filling meal. I also absolutely love canned fava beans cooked with garlic, sprinkled with lemon juice and served with sautéed zucchini for an easy dinner.
E2. Where can people reach you, or read more about you?
MT: At http://www.veganmuscleandfitness.com/, where I and my husband post on our workouts, my recipes, and all kinds of things related to plant-based nutrition. Also on our Facebook page, Veganmusclandfitness.
We want to thank Marcella for taking the time to talk with us today!