Today I welcome my third vegan athlete to Cowgirls & Collard Greens! I’ve featured a female body builder, an ultra-distance trail runner and now a surfer. I couldn’t be more thrilled to share with you my recent interview with vegan pro surfer Tia Blanco (who also happens to be a model). I met Tia in person in March in sunny San Clemente, California while on the set of Vegan Food Share’s “My Spot” video. I spent part of the day eating yummy vegan food at the delicious Active Culture restaurant all the while being an extra in the video shoot (click here to watch the video); if you look closely you just might just spy a cowgirl!
1. Welcome to Cowgirls & Collard Greens Tia! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions today. I am honored to have you as a guest! You are one of several vegan athletes that I have featured on my blog. First off, can you share where your love of surfing came from and how long you’ve been in the water?
Tia Blanco: I have been surfing since I was three years old. I’ve always had a connection to the ocean and the water that is hard to explain. People have always called me a “water child” growing up! The ocean is my absolute favorite place to be. I am really grateful that my passion in life is my job!
2. Other than surfing, what do you do to stay athletically fit?
TB: I practice yoga every day, run long distance (5-7 mile runs) 1-2 times per week, and I also have a personal trainer for surfing that I work with 3-4 times a week. I also surf every single day, so it is safe to say that I am active every day of the week.
3. What would you say that you are most proud of thus far in your career?
TB: Winning the 2015 ISA Open Womens Gold medal for Team USA (since this interview, Tia won gold again last month with Team USA).
4. Certainly you have surfed in many different countries and locations. Of all the places you have surfed, where’s your favorite surf spot?
TB: I loved Tahiti and Canada. Both places were so crisp and beautiful. Canada and Tahiti are both completely different, but completely magical.
5. It’s my understanding that you’ve never eaten meat in your entire life. Can you tell us how and why you went vegan?
TB: My family and I have always made the ethical connection why you should not eat meat if you love animals. It wasn’t until three years ago that we learned how horrible the dairy industry is and from there we decided to make the switch to going vegan. For some reason in my mind I thought cows were not being harmed, but I later found out that it is almost worse to be a dairy cow (you are tortured your whole life, have your babies stolen from you, and you are slaughtered when you are considered worthless). Being an athlete, I had to make sure that I was going to be healthy eating vegan, therefore, I researched it and found that eating a vegan diet is even more healthy!
6. As an athlete have you noticed any profound changes since going fully vegan?
TB: Cutting out dairy was huge for me! I slimmed out, gained muscle, had more energy, and had better recovery levels after my workouts.
7. What does a typical day look like in terms of what you eat?
TB: In the morning eat raw foods and eat as much fruit as possible; I’ve found that eating fruit in the morning is the best way for me to really rehydrate and wake my body up. For lunch and dinner it is different everyday. I eat plenty of quinoa, rice, pasta, beans, seeds, nuts, legumes, and vegetables.
8. What’s your favorite vegan meal?
TB: Dang…that is a hard one! I am just going to have to say my last meal because there are too many amazing dishes to choose from! Today I had a falafel pita wrap with veggies and tahini… SO GOOD!
9. People often think that eating vegan is hard. Do you have any suggestions for those interested in wanting to go vegan or leaning towards a more plant based diet?
TB: I absolutely disagree with this! Eating vegan is NOT hard, the idea of CHANGE is hard. People get really set in their ways and are resistant to change even though they know change could be a positive thing for them. I have traveled to over 20 countries and have made a vegan diet work in all of them! After I educated myself on the benefits of a vegan diet for my health, the animals, and the environment, I found a way to make my diet work. If you really want something in life, you can make it happen.
10. When you’re not busy doing a modeling shoot or trying to catch the next big wave, where would we most likely find you? What do you enjoy doing during your downtime?
TB: I love cooking, painting and yoga. My first priority is surfing, but when the waves are not the best I love to enjoy my other hobbies.