Name: Zach Emery
Year of Birth: 1990
Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA
Current Residence: Portland, OR
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have.
Currently, I am a PGA Assistant Golf Professional at two clubs (one in Portland, OR and one in Rancho Mirage, CA.) I have played golf less since beginning my career, but on a daily basis I interact with members, run golf tournaments and give golf lessons. I have given over 750 individual golf lessons and will be TPI Certified in October of 2014. As of January 2014 I am on the CobraPUMA Golf Staff Team.
My hobbies include playing basketball, hiking, archery, traveling and seeing new places. Spending time with my family is a major priority of mine. My fiancé, Marilyn, and I live with two dogs, Brewster and Lady, a hamster named Gum and also a kitty named Kitty. They accompany us on most of our trips and enjoy being outdoors.
Why did you become vegan?
I became vegan shortly after meeting Marilyn in the fall of 2011. She was vegan and I became extremely interested in why she was and what it was about. After many questions and discussions, I began to understand something that had been in front of me my entire life. Although I grew up eating meat at every meal, I had a love for animals that was deep rooted. I had clearly been disconnected from the animals that were being slaughtered for my food. After a few videos and one traumatic food experience, I went completely vegan and have not once considered eating meat since.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
Fitness has been a major part of my life since I was in high school. I played golf, but also threw javelin and I trained hard for both. I enjoyed feeling strong and testing my body to outperform its former self.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
My nutrition program includes almost entirely whole foods. Typically, I eat fruit and have a leafy green salad with homemade dressings everyday. I avoid processed foods, GMO’s and, for the most part, gluten. We make our breads using a dehydrator and make sure to include beans and lots of Tuscan Kale almost daily in our diets. Avocados are a staple food in our household.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
Spirulina (for protein and iron, foremost), Chlorella (Iron), Aloe Vera Juice (general healing properties), Nutritional Yeast (B12 supplement), Coconut Water (Hydration)
How do people react when they find out you are vegan?
Most people are surprised initially and I get some interesting responses. One that I hear most often is, “That must be why you’re in such good shape.”
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
Many people think vegans are pasty, weak, pretentious and just flat out weird. The major misconception I see is that people think it will be impossible to do it. Of course, many people think you are protein deficient and wonder how it’s possible that you are even standing in front of them if you haven’t been eating meat.
Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it?
I have absolutely had success promoting veganism to others. Generally, it comes up casually in conversation and then questions are asked. There seems to be defensiveness towards bringing up the philosophy and it can be a delicate conversation. I have felt people get uncomfortable and sometimes it seems they feel looked down upon. Since I have not been vegan my entire life, far from it, I always reference my past and how I used to eat meat without ever making the connection to a living animal. This strikes a chord with some people, once they are open to exploring, then I go a bit further. I would never want someone to feel like I was trying to convert them, because it is not a club. To me, it’s more of a reality that is there to be seen; I do my best to share that with others and hope that they may see it as a reality too.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
Diet is most important to me. What you put in your body determines how you will respond to the stress of a work out. It has to start with the diet. Secondly, it has to be fun and done for yourself. If you are self-motivated and having a good time, what could be better?
What do you like best about being vegan?
I enjoy feeling healthy and knowing that I am giving my body what it needs to feel great. I also enjoy seeing animals more than ever. When I see animals, especially animals that are typically eaten by people, I feel good knowing that I am fighting against their torture and murder.
What do you like best about being fit?
Feeling boundless is a big deal to me. If I want to be a part of an activity, my fitness is generally propelling me to be better at it, not holding me back. I enjoy feeling light and feeling like I am supporting a long, healthy life for myself with my diet and training.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training?
Start out slowly and get into a routine that is fun and manageable. It is best to work your way up to your maximum potential rather that exceed it immediately and get discouraged, injured or disinterested. Keep it simple and fun!
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
First, try it. It is not as hard as people make it seem. Frankly, it is not hard at all. Do your research and make sure you know what you will be eating and why. Feed off of other people's interest (whether their interest is negative or positive.) There is a good chance you will feel some resistance, but use that to motivate yourself and know that you are doing something for yourself and for every animal you would have eaten.
What motivates you in life?
My passion for adventure and my love for the outdoors. I do not want to be stagnant.
What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you?
Veganbodybuilding.com has shown me people from all over the world who are defying society’s perception of veganism. It is wonderful to have a place for athletes to share experiences with others who are vegan or hoping to become vegan. I also appreciate how it has now given me an avenue to share my story.