Jessica Sedlock: Vegan On the Go

Jessica Sedlock is a young local athlete with Olympic dreams of running for Canada and changing the way the world eats; she is a vegan on the go!  When most of us think of a vegan diet, we think of a somewhat suspect, spartan diet. Jessica, however, sees it as a pathway to strength, endurance, and a long and healthy life.

What is a vegan?  A vegan eats a plant-based diet of pure foods – no meat, eggs or dairy; a vegan eats nothing of animal origin.  Being a vegan is a lifestyle and philosophical choice, rather than just a diet.  One can become a vegan for ethical reasons, for environmental factors, or for better health.

Jessica Sedlock grew up in Sidney and graduated from Parkland Secondary School.  At age twelve, she was introduced to the biathlon, a sport that allowed her to test her ability both mentally and physically. In 2005, when the time came to try out for the National Biathlon Team, Jessica entered the race unheralded and unnoticed. On the first day of the trials she placed just behind one of the senior athletes and was immediately in the spotlight. Following another solid performance the next day, Jessica officially earned a spot on the National Team, and she never looked back.

Last year, Jessica retired from Biathlon and transitioned into competitive distance running with a goal of competing in the Olympics.  During her transition from biathlon to distance running, Jessica started listening to her body, reading nutritional literature and researching a vegan diet. Jessica considers herself a pioneer; one of the few athletes in the world whose diet is 100% plant based.  She claims this to be the golden secret not only to maximize athletic performance but also to be happy, healthy and sustain the beautiful environment around us.  “I have been in the running world for less than a year and I have heads turning like there is no tomorrow. People keep asking me what I eat!  I am always pleased to share with them that I am on a 100% organic, vegan, whole food diet, which seems to be increasing in popularity pretty quickly.  But for many of my meat-eating competitors this leaves them even more puzzled!”

Jessica knows that diet is key to performance.  The cells in our bodies are built from what we eat.  Jessica explains it very simply: “Would you rather be made from a bright, light and alive apple or from a slice of heavy, greasy pizza?  One thing I always ask myself is how am I going to feel after eating this?  Would I go for a run?  Is this food going to energize me, or is it going to make me want to sleep?”

Being an athlete, Jessica has always been very aware of what her body needs.  “In order to perform well, you must feel well.  If there is something that doesn’t feel good, it is your body telling you there is something wrong”.  To Jessica, it doesn’t matter what a book, or a doctor tells her, at the end of the day if her body asks for something, she listens.  Jessica noticed that at race time her body rejected meat, due to stress.  It took too long to digest and simply didn’t supply her with sufficient energy.  She realized that if a certain food wasn’t helping her in times of stress, then how was it helping her body at all.  The year Jessica decided to go vegan, she went against strong recommendations from both of her coaches and is happy she did.  The coaches were shocked at her results at the end of the season.  “Sometimes you have to go against the grain to get what you want”.

Athletes are always looking for the next big thing to give them an extra edge. Just flip through a fitness magazine and you’ll be bombarded with programs, products, and supplements that promise to revolutionize your athletic performance. Many highlight their active ingredients and the scientific research proving why their product is so good.  Choosing to be a vegan has many health benefits.  Vegetarians and vegans live an average 5-10 years longer than meat-eaters.  As adults, vegetarians usually weigh 15-20 pounds less than people that eat meat.  Vegetarians are 50% less likely to get heart disease than meat-eaters. Research has shown that even older people who switch to a vegetarian diet can prevent – and even reverse – many chronic ailments.

I asked Jessica what it means for her to be a vegan.  “To me, it’s not about being vegan, but about what a vegan diet can do for my performance and the world around me.  After becoming vegan for my body, I realized that the diet also supports every major cause that I am passionate about.  I do not think for a second that this happened just by chance and do believe that it’s been an evolution, shaping the person that I have become.  I may not be the girl that knows everything, but I certainly am the girl that tries everything”.

Although Jessica’s immediate goal is to participate in the Olympics, it is not her life goal, which is to train at her best and to have fun everyday.  To her, this is the real reward.

To try one of Jessica’s favourite energy boosters, check this week’s recipe box.

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