Vegan fitness is often the subject of debate. Typically, those who consume an omnivorous diet feel that vegan diets do not provide all the necessary nutrient. This results in the vegan's health being less than optimal. To prove this belief is flawed, author and vegan fitness expert Jeff Sekerak recently completed a Death Valley walk to prove his superior fitness level even though he consumes a completely vegan diet.
Vegan Fitness: An Interview with Jeff Sekerak
Recently, LoveToKnow was able to speak with Jeff Sekerak about his diet and why vegan fitness offers him superior health. He also shared with us the details of his fitness walk in Death Valley. Check out his tips and see how you can improve your health just like he did.
About Jeff Sekerak
Explain why you are called the "Super Fit Vegetarian."
I became a vegan about 12 years ago and couldn't help but notice that there were many vegetarians and vegans at the time who didn't look to me to be in their top physical condition. I'd always been an athlete of some type--running, weightlifting, baseball, etcetera. I prided myself in always staying at my personal best, physically. And I've always tried to remain "super-fit" no matter what diet I've been on. Now I'm a raw vegan--really, almost a fruitarian--and in the best shape of my entire life due to my current exercise protocol. Hence, the "super-fit" vegan title.
What circumstances made you change your diet?
I decided to change my diet away from consuming animal product actually about 15 or 16 years ago, after reading Harvey and Marilyn Diamond's excellent Fit for Life. That book still stands up to this day in my opinion. The Diamonds did, I believe, an incredible service to humanity in outlining the reasons for, and the health benefits of, going with a primarily plant-based diet. After reading that one, I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of animal-based products I've consumed. The Diamonds make an excellent case for natural hygiene--or a plant-based diet--as the most beneficial and natural food for man. I'd been an English Major at Iowa State University and I really noticed their strong attention to detail in their work. Many say that just reading a book rarely causes someone to change, especially in the area of what they eat. But that just wasn't the case for me. I saw the benefits of eliminating animal products from my diet right away.
How difficult was it to make the change?
For me it was not difficult. I became a vegan immediately. It was a little tougher later on to eliminate cooked food from my diet.
Why a Vegan Diet
Why do you feel a vegan diet is superior?
Plant-based diets supply every nutrient the human body needs. I'll quote Dr. Doug Graham who I'm a big fan of: "No essential nutrient exists in meat, grains, legumes, or dairy that is not also available in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds--and in a form that is easier to digest." (The 80/10/10 Diet). Not only that, Dr. Graham, Dr. Lorraine Day, a "terminal" cancer survivor, Dr. Neal Barnard, head of the Physicians' Committee For Responsible Medicine--all of them, and too many more traditionally trained doctors to list here, have noticed that a plant-based diet supplies the human body with all the nutrients it requires for optimal health without having the side effects that animal-based products do. Animal products such as cooked meat lead directly to many forms of degenerative diseases including cancer, heart disease and constipation. Constipation is especially bad because cooked animal flesh tends to stall in the long, winding digestive tract of the human body. In that hot environment it rots, ferments, attracts parasites, and leads to many totally avoidable problems. Carnivores all have short, straight digestive tracts designed to move dead prey quickly through their systems. We, and other natural fruit and plant eaters, do not. We are not ideally equipped to catch, kill, chew, eat, or digest meat. And it shows with its side effects in our bodies.
Describe what your typical food is in a day?
I typically consume a large meal of fruit for breakfast. The same for lunch, followed immediately by a large salad with nuts, seeds, or avocados mixed in for needed fat. Then four to five hours later I'll eat another large meal of fruit. That's it. Nothing complicated. Most animals in nature, we should notice, eat only one or two foods. Our closest cousins in nature are chimpanzees. We share over 99 percent of our DNA with them. We have the same tooth structure, digestive systems, and nutrient requirements. Do you know what they eat and thrive on for a lifetime of superior health? Fruit, edible leaves, and a tiny percentage of nuts, seeds, bark, and insects. Very infrequently do they consume any animal products. We are designed to eat and thrive on a plant-based diet, in my opinion. Specifically fruit and green leaves. That's what I do daily so I'm not really into complex, time-consuming recipes
Making the Change
What tips can you offer to people who want to change diets but find it difficult to give up meats and junk food?
Find out exactly what happens in slaughter houses. I actually fished in Alaska for years so I've seen the destruction of life that occurs in these places. Many people are so disconnected from the foods in front of them that they do not even know what the ingredients are or how they came to be on their plate. For example, if you really crave junk food, take a Twinkie and read off the ingredients. Plenty of sugar, sure. But did you know there's also a good percentage of beef fat in those things? Most people are shocked to find out that many "foods" they've consumed for years are literally filled with life threatening toxins. So I'd say educate yourself a bit about what's actually going into your body with each meal. This will make you far less likely to eat meat or junk foods.
I'd also say educate yourself about what the human body is ideally suited by mother nature to consume. Start by reading Fit for Life. It gives a good overall picture of what we're designed for. Read Boutenko's Green for Life. Those two alone will put you above 90 percent of the U. S. population in terms of nutritional education and plain common sense.
Extreme Minimalist Fitness
Tell me about your fitness walk and why you did it?
I'd previously done a 10 day, 300 mile, 3000 push up excursion into Death Valley. I love Death Valley, California because it represents to me the toughest, most physically demanding terrain in the U.S. I wanted to return there to reinforce to myself and others just how much the body can accomplish on even a small amount of nutrient-rich plant food. I couldn't set aside 10 days this time of year. I'm just too swamped with commitments. So I decided to increase my mileage in a shorter time frame. My original goal was 5 days hiking 40 miles a day for a total of 200 miles, eating fruit only. Ultimately, myself and my photographer decided to go with the idea of a nice three-day weekend in Death Valley. I did 3 days, hiking 40 miles per day for a total of 120 miles in 3 days. I consumed only raw fruit.
What is "Extreme Minimalist Fitness?"
Extreme Minimalist Fitness is a method of body weight training--essentially a series of calisthenics done one after the other in a circuit-training style--designed to build strength, flexibility, and endurance without needing separate workouts for each. The program also includes the exact dietary regimen I used to transition from a cooked food diet to the raw vegan diet I consume now. It's called Extreme Minimalist Fitness because it requires so very little in terms of equipment (as in, you don't need any), time, or money. But it gets better results than any other health and fitness plan I've ever seen.
Is your program expensive or complicated?
The program is $50. It includes exact, clear photos of me performing every exercise in my circuit-training protocol. It also includes two videos of me performing the 15-minute weight-free workout outlined in my ebook. It actually takes you from square one, as if you know absolutely nothing about health or fitness, and leads you step-by-step from wherever you are now to your absolute peak physical condition--both internally, from the dietary changes you'll make and externally from the way you'll be challenging your body. It is not complex at all.
What are the basics of your program?
The basic idea of the program is to incorporate short bursts of growth-hormone releasing exercise into your life, daily. In 15 to 30 minute workouts at least once per day, initially. When people hear the term "growth-hormone" they often associate that with big, bulky, unattractive muscles. But that's absolutely not what we do here. With this program you'll shoot for the look of a lean, well-toned gymnast in his or her twenties. We'll combine these short workouts with the ideal food to supply your body with every nutrient it needs, while simultaneously cleansing it of possible years of built-up toxins.
So, body weight workouts and a raw, plant-based diet makes up the bulk of the program. I've also included my friend Wayne Green PhD's The Secret Guide To Health. This book reveals the power of raw foods along with what to avoid in terms of toxic substances, for example, genetically-altered produce, to achieve your absolute maximum level of health.
What else would you like readers to know?
You do not need overblown, complex diets or exercise machines to get into the best shape of your life. As a matter of fact, those things only tend to complicate us or bog us down in unneeded details and gadgets, not to mention wasted time. Everything you need to live a healthy, disease-free, and physically superb life is very simple and attainable for anyone. You can forget your gym membership. You can throw out gobs of unneeded supplements, pills, and drugs. It doesn't even take food preparation skills. Body weight training has been around producing incredible results in physical fitness for thousands of years. And humans are naturally designed for a diet of raw, plant-based foods. Combine those foods with sensible but challenging exercise and you'll be absolutely astounded at your results.
Good luck to all. But if you use good common sense and commitment, you won't need luck.
LoveToKnow would like to thank Jeff Sekerak for taking the time for this interview. For more information on vegan fitness, visit ExtremeMinimalistFitness.com.