An inspirational figure, Lisa Gawthorne is an athlete, author and co-founder of a vegan food company…
When she decided to stop eating meat at a young age, Lisa’s parents worried that she wouldn’t get enough nutrients. Now 39 and vegan for 18 years, Liverpool-born Lisa is ranked ninth in the world for sprint duathlon.
When did you go vegan and why?
I was vegetarian from the age of six after making the connection between meat and animals from a PETA leaflet, and it was always my aim to go vegan.
I was virtually there, I just needed to cut out eggs — which I did in 2003, to go fully vegan. I am very vocal about being vegan for the animals as I strongly believe they are not here to be used by humans for clothing or food.
The fact it has positive benefits on my health is of course an added bonus.
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Are your family and friends vegan?
My boyfriend is plant-based, my sister is vegetarian and my mum and dad are flexitarians (almost vegetarian).
I have more friends in my life now that are vegan than ever before and it’s great, I love helping people make the transition.
Have you ever found it difficult being vegan?
I have never found my food choices difficult as I am motivated by morals that put animals first but the one thing I do find difficult is when people are rude or inappropriately negative about veganism, refusing to accept all the evidence supporting it.
More often than not, when people actually take time to digest the info and then try the foods and get into a routine with it, they realise how easy it is. The difficult part is breaking down those barriers.
When did you get into athletics?
I started working out in college to help with stress levels and for many years I was a classic ‘gym bunny’ — always on the treadmill and doing various classes.
I really loved running and after entering a few races in 2007 I was asked to join a running club. That was my first taste of athletics and I have loved every moment of it since.
I have run in cross country competitions for the county, I have run for England in my age group on the road and in cross country and for the last four years I have been on Team GB for my age group in the discipline of Duathlon (run-bike-run).
Do you feel that a plant-based diet helps your performance?
Unquestionably so, yes. The direct correlations I have witnessed between living a vegan lifestyle and feeling more energetic, having better sleep and enjoying faster recovery times in between sessions have been very obvious.
I am running faster than I have before (5K PB 18.39, 10K PB 38.40), my cycling is the best it’s ever been and I am the strongest I have ever been in the gym lifting weights.
In addition to the performance gains in sport, my skin health has also improved, my mindset is a lot clearer and my soul generally feels a lot happier for the change.
What kind of foods do you eat on a daily basis to support your training?
For breakfast, I like to make home-made muesli which involves spelt flakes, barley flakes, oat flakes, pumpkin seeds, linseeds, lucuma powder and blueberries with almond milk. As a mid-morning snack,
I will often go for rice cakes and Peanut Hottie de-fatted peanut butter. Lunch will be something like rice with tofu and green beans.
My mid-afternoon snack tends to be either a Graze protein bar or a Sunwarrior vanilla protein shake. One of my regular dinner options is mixed green veg and vegan sausages or tofu.
I normally finish the day with a mid-evening snack of Alpro protein yoghurt with apple.
I track my macros daily on Myfitnesspal and I try to stick to it as much as possible, relaxing it a little at the weekend.
When did you set up Bravura Foods?
In 2011, with my business partner Karl Morris. We had a very strong vision to make, sell and represent great tasting cruelty-free, vegan products.
Is it important that your job aligns with your ethics?
Very much so yes, I have turned down a lot of good job offers in the past on the basis of what those companies either produce, or what they have been involved in or what they don’t produce.
It’s imperative for someone like me to have full passion and belief for products we sell and for me that has to be vegan.
Tell us about your book, Gone in 60 Minutes…
I wrote Gone in 60 Minutes back in 2012 because, for years, so many people used to ask me about health and fitness I realised to them it was a minefield and to me it was quite a simple formula.
It focuses on delivering maximum results with regards to fat loss and fitness building.
I have had so many readers contact me on social media that have seen great benefits — it’s great to be able to help people stuck in a rut with their workouts or weight loss efforts.
I strongly believe animals are not here to be used by humans for clothing or food.
What’s your top tip for someone new to veganism?
Firstly, I would say enjoy the journey!
It‘s never been so easy to go vegan but more importantly I would say get to grips with the cleanest, nutritionally beneficial foods as there are a lot of businesses out there launching vegan foods — just because they are vegan doesn’t mean they are healthy.
Use Myfitnesspal to make sure you are making the right decision on food intake — this is especially important if you routinely eat a lot of the same meals. Vegan junk food tastes amazing, but as with most things — eat it in moderation as opposed to it being a daily experience.
We’re coming over for dinner, what do you cook for us?
I would start with a coconut and sweet potato soup, then for the main it would be a cashew nut, mixed veg and seitan curry served with quinoa.
For dessert, if I had the time, I would bake some vanilla choc chip muffins but if time was an issue I would serve the amazing Freaks of Nature Hot Cherry Bakewell cakes that are made with flaxseeds.
And finally, what would your ideal world look like?
It would be one that doesn’t cause any pain, cruelty, hurt or abuse to any living creature.
A world where animal slaughter simply doesn’t exist. Animal farmers turn to selling crops instead of livestock and opening up more farm sanctuaries.
Nobody wears animal skins or fur anymore as the alternatives that are already here now are mass market and all designers and brands use them.