Name: James Dean
Year of Birth: 1986
Height: 5’ 11
Birthplace: Chatham, Kent, England
Sports: Strength & endurance
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have
Whilst studying to obtain my BA degree in English I followed my interest in films which led me to become a film and TV extra from 2006 to present. I have been in numerous productions ranging from movies like Harry Potter to many TV productions.
I continued my education and obtained a Master’s degree in American and English Literature, and became qualified in journalism. However, my love of fitness has taken my in a different direction and I have now become a qualified Fitness Instructor.
I got into travelling relatively late in life. I have always had a large admiration for America (part of the reason I wanted to specialize in American Literature). It was always my goal to visit the U.S. above any other country but I visited some of Europe first. However, when I finally did get the opportunity to travel to America for the first time I can honestly say that it exceeded my expectations. From the country, to the people and it’s unique sights (I am big fan of theme parks, especially Disney World, Disneyland and the Universal Studios Parks) it is by far my favourite location in the world and I am always looking for my next opportunity to visit again.
I’m a big music fan and a huge gamer but these are topics too large to list here!
Why did you become vegan?
I have always been lucky to grow up with a large variety of animals who were never pets, but family members. I initially became a vegetarian in April 1993 after staying up one night with my cat who died of old age. Needless to say this had a profound effect on me. After my cat died I saw that this family member was no different to meat to some people. The idea of this disgusted me and I instantly stopped eating meat.
Many times I have been told that humans evolved on eating meat and should carry on. To me this falsity is the complete opposite of the truth. When humans evolved they were more base creatures. Now we have the alternatives to meat readily available and the freedom of choice as well as plenty of evidence to prove that not only do we not need to eat meat but our health will benefit as a result. This is why I ‘evolved’ from vegetarian to vegan in early 2012.
To me there are 2 basic facts of a meat free diet:
- Animal welfare must come above all else. People worry about human rights but animals do not get a look in for most people. Animals are much more natural and purer creatures than humans. Human require a negative ego – shown through materialism, animals do not. If humans lost the ego, they would lose much of the evil in the world. Therefore why would I eat something better than my race?
- A plant based diet is a progressive diet. As soon as an animal (or human dies) their rate of deterioration is much faster than plants. If you eat meat you eat rotting flesh, if you eat a seed, you eat the potential for growth i.e. a seed can turn into a tree, dead meat will just rot.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
My interest in fitness is probably a result of my childhood. I was always influenced by physique characters, whether fictional or real. Some of these early influences were; WWF (in particular Ultimate Warrior and Rick Rude), films (e.g. the Rambo and Conan), as well as many comic book characters like Batman, Spider-Man and the Hulk. My dad, a former wrestler in his 20s, was always interested in the strength side of training and had his own gym equipment in the garage that he would use 4 times a week.
As I have gotten older I have seen the health benefits of fitness and believe that without fitness you can never lead a full life. While at university I put on a lot of unhealthy weight. Upon realising this I immediately set out to correct this. In 5 months I went from 207lbs down to 147lbs using a strict diet and an exercise bike at home. As a result, I wanted to get into the fitness industry to help others reach their physical potential too.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
My nutrition is based around legumes, lentils, soya milk and seeds. These foods alone give me an extremely high protein content which is fortunate as in the U.K. there is a lack of vegan protein drinks and the ones that are available are expensive. Although since turning vegan this was an inconvenience at first it became an advantage as it has forced me to find more natural, whole food alternatives to supplements.
Since being a vegetarian from the age of 5 and therefore being meat free throughout my formative years I can confidently say that meat is not needed to build muscle and strength. However, since becoming vegan I have found getting leaner a lot easier as I have not had the temptations of many of the foods that put bad weight on. Another advantage of my vegan diet is the increase in fibre. I now see that even as a vegetarian my fibre content was not as high as I would have liked but my transition into a vegan diet has corrected this.
Even now I am still learning new ways to improve my diet which gives me a good sense of progression and helps me get the results I want.
How would you describe your training program?
I generally stick to a regime of at least 6 days of weights a week, spending a day on chest, arms, back and legs. My workouts are always high volume and I try to stick to doing as much weight with as good form as possible. Minimal resting is a must. For cardio I like to use the cross trainer or bike, using a strict HIIT method. My current goal, as always, is to try to put on more good mass and reducing fat.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
A multivitamin but generally vegan supplements are too expensive in the UK!
How do people react when they find out you are vegan?
People are always shocked and either ignore it or begin telling me how unhealthy it is. This is particularly amusing for me at the gym!
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
There are far too many of these to go through. The obvious being the protein deficiency but this matter has already been disproved so many times by science, this site and all the healthy meat-
free people walking around today.
The aspect of meat eaters who oppose plant based eaters that I find the most ridiculous is the fact they think they are right without any facts. The evolution argument is completely void. I was once told that humans are meant to eat meat because that’s what their teeth are designed for. Last time I looked our teeth are closer to an herbivore like a horse than a carnivorous tiger.
It’s funny to me that these dietary experts base their knowledge on the meat industries propaganda. This site alone is proof enough to dispel the myth of non-meat eaters being weak or that plant protein isn’t as effective as animal protein. What they do choose to overlook is the lack of saturated fat (leading to coronary heart disease and high cholesterol levels) a meat diet contains that a plant based diet lacks.
Another misconception is that all vegans/vegetarians are weak, passive, hippies. Firstly, I find it ignorant that people use these things as a negative slur but it is completely untrue. I have known people who do not let people know they do not eat meat because they do not want to be seen in this way. Being meat free is something that everyone is capable of being and should not be something that continues to be viewed negatively as it is by a worryingly large amount of people.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
Staying consistent and never taking short cuts.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training?
1- If you are switching to a vegan diet, make sure you replace the calories you lose by taking animal products out.
2- Master different aspects such as form before jumping to advanced techniques. Don’t try to do everything at once.
3- Research everything and take advice from people who have had results.
4- Don’t let peer pressure affect your workouts. Do your research, so you do what you know
is right, not what the current fad is or what other misinformed people try to tell you to do, particularly regarding your diet.
5- Keep a progress journal. Results are the greatest motivation.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Make sure you replace the food you take out and you will reap the rewards of the change, from the physical benefits to your improved spiritual wellbeing.
What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you?
It is a great site! There is a wealth of knowledge on here from people who have actually done it themselves. I have a great respect for Robert Cheeke in particular, for starting the site and being a vegan for purely ethical reasons.