KL: Tell us a little about yourself - where you are from, what is your occupation etc
BC: My name is Beth Castell and I work as a wills, deceased estates and litigation lawyer in Adelaide, South Australia. I'm 31 years old, mega animal lover, big fan of cooking (and eating!) and working on my vegains!
KL: How long have you been vegan?
BC: I have been vegan for about five and a half years, but was vegetarian for a couple of years before that.
KL: Why did you decide to become Vegan and did you find the transition difficult or easy?
BC: I became vegan after studying Animal Law at university. I started learning about what really goes on at farms and slaughterhouses, and how the law views animals merely as property, just like a book or a chair, and it didn't feel right to me. At the beginning of my studies of Animal Law I was going home from university and eating meat. I felt like a hypocrite. I soon decided I had to follow through with my beliefs, and leave animals off of my plate. So I became vegetarian. A year or two later, I deliberately researched the egg and dairy industry. I didn't want to know the truth until then. But when I discovered the truth, again I had to follow through with my beliefs. From then on, I did not want to use animals or animal-derived ingredients or products at all.
KL: How long have you been training for & have you been vegan that whole time?
BC: I have been training for about four years now, and have been vegan that whole time. I am so glad that I was vegan when I properly got into fitness, as I never had to endure meal prepping with the typical chicken or white fish meals or downing raw eggs or whey powder!
KL: What are some of the physical differences you felt in your training since turning vegan?
BC: I can't really compare training (in terms of bodybuilding) as a vegan with not being vegan, as I became vegan prior to training. In fact, it was veganism that got me into bodybuilding! My main reason to train, and what compels me day in and day out, are the animals. My ultimate goal is to prove that we can be fit, strong and healthy without causing harm to animals. No animals need to suffer for my gains! As a vegan I feel "cleaner" and healthier than what I imagine I would feel if I wasn't vegan. I eat fresh vibrant foods that are filled with vitamins and minerals, rather than eating corpses or animal by-products! I feel my gut health would also be better than those who eat meats, which are slow to digest and can no doubt make you feel heavy and uncomfortable.
KL: Did you notice any mental differences since your transition?
BC: Initially, becoming vegan can be quite a wake up call, particularly if you learn about the treatment of animals. This can be tough to deal with, and I personally felt like I wanted to shout from the rooftops and almost shake people to wake up and realise what is going on. I felt like no one, if they really knew the truth, would feel right, morally, to eat meat anymore. But that is just one tiny aspect, and there are so many vegan people these days that you can talk to and ways to share your feelings and get support. Other than that, I have felt much more alive and in line with my values. It feels really good within yourself - in your mind, heart and soul - to do what is "right", to not support the slaughter or suffering of animals. I eat and live without that guilt, without the need to block my eyes and ears about the truth. Veganism also compelled me to become healthier and start bodybuilding, and that has had huge benefits to my mental health. Being vegan is just a wonderful feeling in general, and the only thing I regret is not becoming vegan sooner.
KL: What would a typical day’s diet look like for you?
BC: My main focus, particularly given my goal of building muscle, is to make sure I get enough protein, which I consider at least 30 grams per meal, about 4 or 5 times per day. As for protein, I rely a lot on high protein and low carb pasta and cereal (made by Herman Brot), purchased or homemade mock meats (I make my own seitan using gluten flour and eat that most days with mixed veggies for lunch), tofu, tempeh, and pea and rice protein powders. I love blueberries with my protein powder and protein cereal for breakfast, homemade seitan and mixed veggies or salad for lunch, a small sugar-free vegan chocolate for my afternoon snack (I'm a sweet tooth!), and then all sorts for dinner - for example, stir-fries, pasta, curry, or low carb wraps with vegan "chicken" and salad.
KL: Do you use supplements, if so which ones?
BC: I take and recommend creatine, DHA/EPA (omegas 3 and 6), magnesium, zinc and b12 - all vegan of course! Be careful when looking for DHA/EPA as most are animal-derived (usually from fish or krill!).
KL: What is your favourite vegan meal?
BC: Ooooh. I am a mad foodie. Seriously. I think if I could disregard calories completely I would go for a delicious vegan pizza overflowing with plant-based cheese and mock meats (and WITH pineapple!). I probably should say something healthy!! I love the salt and pepper tofu from my local Thai restaurant, Paya Thai!
KL: What bit of advice would you give someone looking to turn vegan?
BC: Get support - find a Facebook group for your local area, for example and ask lots of questions. Make sure you're eating enough calories, don't be afraid of new and different products or ingredients, eat all the colours of the rainbow and make sure you're supplementing with b12 or eating foods fortified with b12. And stick with it. You will not regret it. Ever.
KL: What does the future hold for you?
BC: As for the near future, I am planning to spend the next couple of years focusing on building muscle (rather than focusing on losing fat) with the hopes that I can enter a more muscular division in bodybuilding competitions. I hope to be on that stage and anywhere else I can promoting veganism through health and fitness.
KL: What is your favourite quote?
BC: "Be the change you wish to see in the world". I also love the story of the starfish thrower by Loren Eisley. It's only a few paragraphs, check it out!
KL: How can people get in touch or follow you on your journey?
BC: If people want to chat or ask me questions about veganism or fitness, please feel free to contact me! I want to help anyone and everyone with veganism and fitness!