As a dancer, I need to feel energized throughout the day.I dance for at least 4 hours every day in addition to other exercise and stretching. I can’t even imagine dancing feeling weighed down after eating. That is one of the many reasons why I choose to fuel my body with vegan food. Vegan food gives me all the energy I need without making me tired. Of course, I still need to make sure the food is nutritious because just because it is vegan doesn’t mean that it is good for me. So, I wouldn’t recommend snacking on Oreos or something with very little nutritional value such as iceberg lettuce. Sure, they are not as bad for your health as meat, eggs, or dairy, but they don’t really benefit your body in any way.
Veganism has definitely made me a stronger dancer. I rarely get sick or tired and have managed to reduce my fat percentage while still building muscle. I don’t get as sore after dancing and recover more quickly than before going vegan. I have been vegan for more than two years and have been dancing since I was 5 years old, so maintaining a vegan dancer’s diet comes naturally to me.
Here is an example of what I would eat in a day full of dancing. In other words, this is where I get my protein from.
As a teenager, I used to force myself to eat breakfast to kick-start my metabolism even though I had no appetite. It seems like it worked, because nowadays I’m always hungry in the mornings. For breakfast, I like to have some oatmeal with berries and almond butter. It makes me feel full without being too heavy. I usually have a cup of coffee in the morning as well. I only drink one cup of coffee per day to avoid the health risks of drinking too much caffeine such as insomnia, anxiety and an upset stomach, to name a few.
I know many people consider smoothies and smoothie bowls breakfast food, but I think it is the perfect lunch because it fills me up without making me tired. The last thing I want in the middle of a day full of dancing is to eat something that makes me want to take a nap. For this smoothie bowl, I blended kale, spinach, bananas, grapes, mango pieces, rice protein powder and water. I added some more banana, blueberries, almonds and shredded coconut on top. It is hard to believe that something so delicious is healthy. It tastes amazing and makes my body feel good.
In between lunch and dinner, I might feel the need to have a snack. Dipping vegetables in hummus is my go-to snack on days like that. I tend to have an orange and a cup of green tea somewhere in between, too.
Pho has been my favourite dish since pho-ever. This Vietnamese soup is so tasty yet so healthy. Having some warm soup is the perfect way to relax after a long day of dancing. Of course, you can choose to use your favourite toppings, but I used sautéed tofu, sautéed mushrooms, hot peppers, fresh green onions, fresh basil, hot sauce and lime juice. Sometimes, I have a soy yoghurt as a dessert after dinner.
As you can tell, I try to get lots of protein by eating tofu, oatmeal, nuts and spinach, for example. I eat a lot of fruit on a daily basis to get all vitamins and when I’m craving something sweet, it is better to eat fruit than something like a candy bar. In addition, I take B12 and D3 vitamin supplements just to make sure that I’m avoiding deficiencies.
However, the most important thing for us dancers is to stay hydrated. I drink 3 litres (approximately 0.8 US gallons) of water every day. For me, drinking water throughout the day comes naturally so I don’t really need to constantly remind myself to stay hydrated. However, if you are struggling with not being able to drink enough water, you could make it more fun by adding some fruit to your water. To keep it real, I would like to add that I do treat myself every now and then with some vegan chocolate or other snacks.
Some of you may think that I eat a lot, but keep in mind that as a dancer I am also burning a lot of calories every day. And remember that everyone needs to eat what their body needs. I am quite small, so I don’t need as much protein as a body builder, for instance.
My vegan diet has helped me become my best dancing self.
How do you fuel your active lifestyle as a vegan?
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Photo: Milja Murto