Name: Amir Daniel Kaufman
Year of Birth: 1987
Height: 1.7 m
Weight: 69 kg
Birthplace: Tel-Aviv, Israel
Current Residence: Tel-Aviv
Sports: Body building, Running, Cycling, Climbing, Rowing.
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have
Diversity is the name of the game for me.
Salsa dancer for the last 6 years, instructor for the last 4. I love the way it feels to become one with the rhythm of the music and with your dance partner. I participated in several shows with several other people and now looking forward to build a one couple show with my partner.
I have a degree in accounting and sociology-anthropology and used to work in an accounting firm as an intern. Recently I did a meaningful step in the way of doing what I love and started to work full time job as a personal trainer. I'm very passionate about sports and mainly about nutrition as I invest a portion of my time to learn about the subject.
Without a doubt my biggest passion is to demonstrate and be an example for – vegan is strong– you can be healthy and run an energetic-vibrant lifestyle while treating your body with a balanced, plant based diet.
Why did you become vegan?
I believe that thanks to my beloved Labrador friend, Rooky, my love for animals has thrived. I consumed animal product without really thinking about it, though I do remember some kind of a conflict between loving animals to eating them. It wasn't until I read the great book Eating animal by Jonathan Safran Foer that I knew about veganism. I discovered the book by a complete coincidence and immediately picked it up and review it with a cynical-doubtful attitude. After few seconds, a page turned into a chapter and by the time I finish reading, being vegan seems to be the most logical thing to do. It took me a few weeks and another great book called eat to live by Joel Fuhrman (M.D) until I became fully vegan.
It was probably one of the best things I did in my life.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
Funny to say, but since I can remember myself, I wanted big, beautiful Abs. Up until the age of 18 I was as far away from fitness and sports, used to hate gymnastic class at high school. That changed when I got recruited into the army, besides my usual training I've started to do night runs by myself and really enjoyed it. Something has changed in my perspective and sports had made me feel good with myself, not only because I could achieve a nicer appearance, but because it makes me balanced, kept me calm. Since then I've been constantly exercising as a way of living – running, lifting weights, cycling, swimming and so on.
After I became vegan, the whole concept of fitness and wellness took a whole new level, I realized that by showing a fit - energetic body I can make people think again about vegan lifestyle. It wasn’t too long until I've decided to compete in a body building competition and be the first vegan to do so in Israel. My passion was to show as many people as I can, that vegan body is strong and healthy.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
My diet is based mainly on natural unprocessed foods, veggies, legumes, fruits and whole grains.
I eat approximately every 3 hours, so it means 5 meals a day. I'm avoiding oils (not fats), sweet drinks, coffee, I rarely add salt or sugar and I don’t fry my food.
I usually start my day with home-made Granule and soy drink/whole grain-banana pancakes/ big plate of fruits and nuts.
Big salad, plate of legumes and a slice of whole bread with peanut butter/homemade tahini.
Cocked dish of legumes and whole grain.
Bowl of broccoli and some other vegetables with tehini.
Big salad, plate of legumes and 1-2 slices of whole bread with humus.
I share recipes at my facebook page and devoting an entire section at my web site for nutrition.
*When shown like that, my menu seems very strict, I sometimes snap some dates between meals or make my own ice-cream (just throw frozen bananas with any other fruits you like in the blender and you got yourself a quality ice-cream).
How would you describe your training program?
(What do you typically do to work out, how many days, what exercises/movements, what kind of reps and sets do you do, and anything else unique to you)
Since I moved to an advance stage of preparation for the competition, I had trained 5-6 times a week, every time for a different muscle group – Legs/Back/Chest/Shoulders/hands and did a long aerobic session afterwards.
As I study more in the field of sports I realize that lifting weights is an important feature but only one part of the equation. Nowadays I’m starting to change my training program and combine more functional training principles like balance, stability, flexibility and proprioception. This will make me to change a portion of my gym time and to go outside, to the river, to the climbing wall, to the park and so on.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
When competed, I used to drink 2 protein shake per day. Because it was my first competition, I wanted to be on the 'safe side' and was willing to drink protein shakes. People make a big deal out of protein and there's an ongoing debate about the right intake. I think protein powders have justification for some people (mainly those who have no time for meal prep). Since the competition ended, I took out protein powders from my menu completely. I want to try and see how my body is reacting to a balanced natural diet that doesn’t contain supplements. So far I’m feeling great and successfully maintained my muscle mass. I'll share my results and conclusions when I'll feel enough time passed.
How do people react when they find out you are vegan?
Most of the time I get positive reactions. I believe in energy on the spiritual level – what you give is what you get. Because of that, I’m avoiding from preaching to people and trying to be a good example instead. That way, people can connect to me and to my way as they see a healthy strong vegan – it breaks their concept about the ‘skinny-sick vegan’ point of view.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
One misconception is what I mentioned above – people think that vegans are weak and are short in nutrients. Plus, there is an obsession for protein, among vegans as well, and I use to hear the question where do you get your protein all the time. Plants have protein you know.
Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it?
Almost every time I get into a new place, people ask me questions and are interested in veganism and my way of life.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
Love what you do and accept your body the way it is (for now, of course you want to shape it). That’s the only way to achieve your goals.
What do you like best about being vegan?
It just feels exactly right and suit in perfectly to my point of view about life. It feels great to actually think about what you do and do it in a deliberate way.
What do you like best about being fit?
I love the feeling of being capable. I love it that my body in a well-oiled machine.
And of course I love the way it looks too
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training?
Do what you love! If you don’t like running, swim. If you don’t like swimming, cycle.
Go to the gym and start working on exercises you feel good about. Take a walk at the park and enjoy the clean air and beautiful landscape. If the concept of training for you is a way of life and not just another fading fashion, enjoying what you do is all the difference.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Everything is possible, the only thing that’s tough is the change itself. After more than four years, veganism is natural for me, food is not an effort and I don’t even count my protein intake.
Read some books, explorer the internet and consult with professionals to do the swift in a balanced, responsible way.
What motivates you in life?
I love the vibrant, dynamic, fast rhythm of life and I’m passionate about what I do. I get motivate by watching other people success too and I’m happy to pass that motivation forward by setting an example for others to what I called – deliberate creating – as we are responsible for our own experience here on earth.
What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you?
I think it’s a great demonstration for will power and setting an example to others. It helped me connecting with great people and inspired me to spread the massage in my country as well.
Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share?
After doing some spiritual work, I realized that there is abundance for everyone on this planet. I now know that there is no such thing as a more prosperous field or a job. The chances for an individual to be successful in what he does are getting greater as long as he doing what he’s passionate about. That way he’s willing to try new things, his imagination will work extra hours and he won’t start his workday by thinking about how much time he got left until his shift is over.
Don’t give up on your dreams and passions and get away from people who do, they will often influence you the same way.
Vegan is STRONG!