Name: Emile Kuijvenhoven
Birthplace: Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
Current Residence: Madrid (Spain)
Sports: Athletics (middle) distance runner.
Vegan since 1997
Why did you become vegan?
In order not to contribute to the suffering of animals in our society.
After being vegetarian for 6 months I made the switch. Vegetarian was a small step I took when I was not yet familiar with veganism. Unfamiliar with the fact that you can be perfectly healthy being a vegan is one of the reasons why it took me so long.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
From what I remember I always liked sports. As a kid I liked the gymnastic classes and the trainings I did with my local track and field team. After 5 years Athletics, followed by two years football (soccer for US), two years rowing, half a year taekwondo (yellow belt) I finally got back to my favorite sports; Athletics. Since 2000 I run again only stopped by one mayor injury in 2007 and expect to keep running for years to come.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
As food is concerned I eat pretty basic (no nonsense). Get loads of carbohydrates essential for endurance athletes (mainly in the form of bread or pasta). Most of my proteins come from (soy)beans. Have my soy yogurts every day. Best is to eat loads of fresh fruits and veggies. There is always room for improvement. Next to the food I eat I think it’s important when we eat. Good breakfast decent lunch and moderate dinner and some healthy snacks.
How would you describe your training program?
My training plan at the moment is a 5/6 day routine.
I run approximately 70k a week. Depending on the season I run 30-60min (summer), or 40-70 winter, further I do speed sessions on the track, hill sprints, running exercises, stretching 15min a day, abbs and back 3x50 reps. And 1 to 3 gym sessions.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
b12 essential for all vegans and some others.
BCAA to replace lost amino acids during long runs. Don’t use it really often, but think it’s a nice one. (there are plenty of vegan BCAA’s available)
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
There are many misconceptions, most frequent are that we are all unhealthy and that there is no tasty plant based food. The first one is easy to tackle, just look at the many examples. The second one can only be broken by people who are willing to taste different colors and flavors.
What do you think the most important aspect of fitness is?
Think it’s key to be fit. It makes you literally feel better, helps to use your brain more optimal and improves mental health.
What do you like best about being vegan?
Personally what I like most is the idea that you can enjoy your meals with a clear mind.
What do you like best about being fit?
I love to have loads of energy to be able to do more things and to do things better.
What are your strengths as an athlete?
My strength is that I’m consisted. This means that even when I don’t feel like it I still go training. Afterwards this pay’s out the form of mental and physical improvement.
What advice do you have for vegan athletes who are just starting out?
Choose a sport or discipline you like and if possible look for a coach a team that make you feel comfortable. Ask for feedback. As it’s difficult to see yourself, the extra eyes alone can be a huge benefit for your training. Build things up slowly, but try to stick with it.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Try to think in nutritional values (protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals…), rather than at food as apples, meat, soy etc, this will help you to get all ingredients you need and can directly benefit your health.
What motivates you to continue to be a successful vegan athlete?
Successful is relative, but what motivates me is self improvement and feeling good.
How has the website www.veganbodybuilding.com helped or inspired you?
VBB inspired me as a place with loads of people from all over the world who want to be healthy in a compassionate way.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your vegan fitness lifestyle?
Please don’t hesitate to ask questions. There are many of us who had similar obstacles or doubts when becoming vegan or while entering a new sports or training program.