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Name: Mike Parrish
Age: 20
Height: 5"11'
Weight: 165
Birthplace: Beach Park, Il
Current Residence: Chicago, Il
Sports: Bike racing/head banging

Why did you become vegan?

When i was in highschool I had a lot of friends into punk rock and hardcore music, and they were all vegetarian/vegan. After hanging out with them more and more and talking about the politics of it all, i decided that it would be a great idea to try out.

When and why did you become interested in fitness?

When i was younger, I was really out of shape and definitely obese. It took until about a year or so into highschool to start losing all the weight (going vegetarian, and eventually vegan) then I felt like i was getting too skinny so I and took weight training in highschool. At first I took it so I wouldn't have to run, but eventually I just figured that i loved lifting weights.

How would you describe your nutrition program?

Ha, Some days, totally disciplined. But sometimes every thing I know out the window. I guess thats how it goes when you're always busy. I try not eating past 10 or 11 at night and try to keep the sweets at a normal level; but sometimes my sweet tooth just takes over and next think i know i just devoured half a pint of cookie dough ice cream. At least i eat lots of greens!

How would you describe your training program?

Pretty intense i would say. There have been times where i feel like i need to throw up after a good work out, and i think thats how it should be sometimes. I figure if I eat what i want i better be able to train hard enough to work it off. I go to the gym about 4 or 5 times a week and since i ride my bike every day for a living, that takes care of my cardio.

What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?

I have tried a few and didn't really think anything works. Creatine is the best, but i've only tried it once and didn't think it did a whole lot. I think no matter what, there is no "miracle mix" or whatever, you just need to work hard.

What are some common misconceptions about veganism?

that everyone thinks veganism is an extreme diet. if anything it is more balanced then what we as americans are eating. i hit every food group multiple times per day, as opposed to a lot of people who just eat meat and cheese. another thing that gets to me is that everyone thinks all vegans are small, size wise; anyone who has that argument with me, i just tell them to visit this website.

What do you like best about being vegan?

the fact that i'm living a peaceful lifestyle, that i'm trying to reduce the most suffering as i can in my lifestyle and diet choices. not to mention the great community and fellowship that comes with being vegan; it's probably because we are a somewhat small group of people, but the way things are going, thats going to change!

What do you like best about being fit?

i feel great knowing i can walk up 3 flights of stairs to get to my apartment along with 4 full bags of groceries and my bike on my shoulder without getting winded. i also like the comments (both positive and negative) that people give me about how i look.

What are your strengths as an athlete?

Well, i know that when i have an injury while riding i come back a lot quicker because of weight training. lifting weights is the best way to prevent injury, by far.

What advice do you have for vegan athletes who are just starting out?

don't get boggled by all of the information on the internet about veganism and weightlifting. just know that if you eat healthy foods combined with an active lifestyle, you'll see a difference in no time.

What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?

do it how you feel is right, i first cut back on meat, then became vegetarian and after about a year, stopped drinking milk and then decided to become vegan. it was a process for me, but i have a lot of friends who just decided one day veganism would be the right path for them. do what feels right for you. and remember, just because it's vegan, doesn't mean it's healthy.

What motivates you to continue to be a successful vegan athlete?

the fact that i like looking like i am healthy and feel like my health is improving instead of going down. i feel like my body should reflect on the outside how i feel on the inside.

How has the website www.veganbodybuilding.com helped or inspired you?

robert's nutrition guides were a mega help at first when i was trying to figure out how to eat right. i remember printing them out and going to the grocery store and just getting everything on those meal idea lists. i also love the forum, when i feel like my routine is getting sloppy, i'll check out the forum for some tips and ideas to shake things up.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your vegan fitness lifestyle?

i've never smoked, done drugs, or drank. i feel like that is just as important to me as being vegan and being fit. it all comes full circle for me. not putting any toxins in your body is so important, i see many vegans who drink and smoke around chicago and it makes me wonder, how can you care for animals so much, but be killing yourself in the process? i hope more people make this connection sooner then later.