: Sebastian Grubb
: 150 lbs
: Los Angeles, California
: San Francisco, California
: Professional Dance, Body-weight Strength Training
: 1200 Push-ups in 1 hour; 400 Chin-ups in 1 hour
: Outdoor Fitness Trainer; Nutrition Coach;
Why did you become vegan?
In 2003 I became vegan for health reasons; looking at the modern
scientific data and at the diets of healthy, traditional cultures,
it's clear that we should all eat more plants, especially unprocessed
vegetables and fruits. I decided to take this information further and
eat almost exclusively plants.
Eventually I learned about the environmental impacts of raising
animals for food and this reinforced my position on eating. After the
first year I realized I was holding myself back from connecting with
the issues of ethics and animal suffering, so I volunteered at an
animal sanctuary and it became an emotional issue as well.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I grew up running in the mountains, but in my teens let go of fitness
for a few years. One day I looked at the junk food I was eating and
had a very rude awakening; I couldn't believe what I was eating! I
started a daily strength-training and running routine right away. In
college I took weight-training classes and became interested in
bodybuilding. I also started experimenting with distance cycling,
acrobatics, and dance. At the end of college I had fallen in love with
dance as an athletic and artistic pursuit, and decided to try pursuing
it professionally. Now I work for two dance companies in San Francisco
and do freelance work for other artists.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
I base my diet on whole, unprocessed plant foods. I aim to make these
foods at least 90% of my diet, and leave the final 10% as 'wiggle
room', mostly taken up with thing like chocolate and processed foods
that feel like a special treat to me. I eat a huge amount of food,
especially for my size, and so I tend to eat 5-8 smaller meals per
day, with at least 2 of those based on raw salad or cooked vegetables.
My basic approach to eating is: If it's a plant, eat it. If it's a
vegetable or fruit, eat more of it.
How would you describe your training program?
I used to have a more typical, bodybuilder's weight-lifting program,
working out in the gym 3-5 days per week and running or biking on
alternate days. When I started seriously training as a dancer, I
couldn't keep up the same routine. Much of the dance training and
performance I do is athletically-demanding and acrobatic, so isolated
strength-training can interfere with that. Now I often rehearse 6 days
per week, up to 5 hours each day. Depending on the demands of the
choreography, I will still maintain two upper-body, strength-training
sessions per week: one that trains 'pushing', and one that trains
'pulling'. These sessions are based on exercises that use mainly my
own body-weight for resistance, so that the strength, agility and
coordination I develop end up supporting my work as a dancer.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
The general consensus from the scientific community is that vegans
ought to be concerned about two primary nutrients that may be harder
to get in plant foods alone: Vitamin B-12 and Omega-3 fatty acids. I
take B-complex vitamins either in fortified foods (e.g. food bars,
cereals, nondairy milks) or in nutritional yeast. I get my Omega-3s
from ground flaxseed, walnuts, and high-quality algae oil.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
There are some really common ones, like about having to supplement to
get enough protein, having to perform difficult calculations to figure
out what to eat, having to mix certain foods, getting sick more often,
being unable to be an athlete. None of these has been true for me.
Another big one is that vegans are closed-minded to non-vegans, that
we believe ourselves to be morally superior. I used to think like
that; now I focus my interactions with other people around compassion
and understanding, not around trying to change them.
What do you think the most important aspect of fitness is?
Fitness is the greatest compromise: the fittest person is not the
strongest, fastest, most enduring, or most flexible. The fittest
person has worked to maximize all of these elements in balance with
each other, so that they are the most capable in the most situations
where something physical is demanded.
What do you like best about being vegan?
When I became vegan, I learned how to cook. And I started eating a
much wider variety of foods than before. But what I appreciate most is
feeling good about my food choices and knowing that these choices are
reducing the amount of suffering and environmental destruction in the
What do you like best about being fit?
Everything! Being fit is being able to interact with the physical
world in an exuberant way. I see my apartment, the streets, offices,
and studios as playgrounds. I move my body a lot, and the fitter I
get, the more I can do that and the more ways I can do that. I also
enjoy serving as an example for people striving to improve their
What are your strengths as an athlete?
As a dancer, I'm considered to be very strong and have great explosive
power and endurance. Most dancers do not have the history of
strength-training that I do, and this history allows me to perform
certain movements--or sequences of movements--that are otherwise
inaccessible. Outside of dance, my forte in strength-training has
become maximizing the number of push-ups and pull-ups/chin-ups I can
complete in certain lengths of time. I see this as being not only a
'numbers game' (like being a marathoner and fixating on running 26.2
miles), but also as being great endurance-training for dance work that
involves a lot of time on my hands, picking up other dancers, or
What advice do you have for vegan athletes who are just starting out?
Pay more attention to successful vegan athletes than to people who say
it can't be done. There is plenty of scientific evidence to support
what we are doing, and plenty of anti-vegan rhetoric to drag us down.
I'd also recommend treating non-vegans as allies, not enemies. We
should lead by example and be encouraging to others.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Do it! Or at least give it a real try. Take a month in which you wean
yourself off of animal foods. Then take a full month in which you
actually give vegan eating a fair try in your life. Regardless of
whether you eat animal foods or not, we can all improve our health by
eating more whole plant foods and fewer animal foods.
What motivates you to continue to be a successful vegan athlete?
The progress I have made as an athlete has been mostly while being
vegan. For me, there have been no limits to how fit I can get while
eating this way. I like to show people that they can be athletic and
reduce animal suffering by avoiding animal foods at the same time.