Name: Luke Tan, Emilie Tan
Height: Luke: 5’11, Emilie: 5’3
Weight: Luke: 82kg, Emilie: 56kg
Birthplace: Luke: Singapore, Emilie: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Current Residence: Melbourne, Australia
Luke: Strength/ strongman/ bodybuilding training, crossfit,
Emilie: Strength training/strongman training, long distance running, bikram yoga and formerly short track speed skating
Luke: ‘Luke T Evolvedstrength’, ‘Evol’ved Generation’, Instagram: @luketevolvedstrength, @evolvedgeneration
Emilie: Facebook: ‘Emilie T Evolvedstrength’, ‘Evol’ved Generation’, Instagram: @emilietevolvedstrength, @evolvedgeneration
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have
Born in Singapore, currently residing in Melbourne (Australia), I am a plant based strength and conditioning/ Master NLP mindset coach for Australian Strength Performance. In October 2013, I competed in the 2013 Australian Natural Bodybuilding Victorian championships and placed 2nd for my category (Fitness model, over 30s).
My wife and I formed Evol’ved Generation, a website aimed to spread positive change in the world. Our team comprises of top-level physique/ bikini competitors winning competitions in Australia and the world. As a coach, I am passionate about empowering and inspiring individuals to be the best they can be in all that they do, and to bring each person to a place of physical & emotional strength. I believe that for positive changes to happen to the world, it must first start from within.
I am born and raised in Montreal, Canada but moved 6 years ago to Melbourne, Australia.
I have been working as a travel agent for the past year and a half, but my true passion lies in health, fitness and animal rights and I am slowly but surely working on making it my full time job. I like to practice all kinds of activities, ranging from heavy lifting, to circuit style training, long distance running, bikram yoga and triathlons in the near future.
I like to experiment with mostly easy raw vegan cooking and share it on social media outlets to show others that fruits and vegetables alone can be delicious, healthy, full of life and colour.
My husband Luke and I founded Evol’ved Generation, a website/team formed of like minded plant based athletes with a goal to inspire people to make positive changes in their life and, to live a life compassion.
Why did you become vegan?
My wife (Emilie) was first a vegan and she introduced me to the book ‘The Food Revolution’ by John Robbins. The book was filled with facts and offered a brilliant insight into the ‘politics’ of food consumption, production. It covered aspects such as GMO foods, the effects & dangers of the factory farming system and how a plant-based diet is better for the environment. Shortly after, I was introduced to ‘Earthlings’. The film exposed me to the atrocities of animal exploitation. These practices continue to exist to feed the ever-growing demand of meat and their by-products. It was an instantaneous decision for me to make the switch.
I read the book written by Robert Cheeke 'Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness ' and realised that it was actually possible to be a vegan and build muscle. There were many athletes all across the globe thriving on a vegan diet. Through the book the message was clear. The best way to increase awareness is to spread a positive message and lead by example.†
I further researched the works of doctors, Dean Ornish, Neal Barnard, Caldwell Esselstyn, Colin Campbell & John McDougall and found that a plant based diet has also been proven to halt/ reverse chronic degenerative diseases (diabetes, cancer, heart disease). To me the choice was clear.
Since a young age, I had been interested in vegetarianism as I never really liked the taste of meat. I was always cooking tofu or lentil based dishes for my family and knew I would one day forgo meat completely. I tried a “pescatarian” diet around the age of 22-23 but failed as I was also following a very unhealthy lifestyle (binge drinking, social smoking, etc) and replaced meat with lots of eggs and cheese.
I had been suffering from pre-menstrual syndrome and digestive problems since my teen years and just could not get to the bottom of it. Even after taking gluten out of my diet, things had not really improved and got even worse when following a low carbohydrate “paleo” style diet. I clearly had enough and started looking for answers.
As time progressed, I started getting interested in a few facebook posts a friend made on veganism. I had a gut feeling that this might be the answer. I started watching videos from Freelee and the Durianrider from 30 bananas a day, bought John Robbins “The Food Revolution” and got convinced pretty quickly. I started by eliminating dairy, red meat and poultry, then fish and seafood and finally, I gave up eggs, honey and other animal by products for good. I also pledged to never buy leather, wool, fur or silk garments again.
When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I remember my childhood days when my dad had his own gym set and was doing bicep curls, bench press and sit ups (he used to pride himself at doing 1000 at one go!). I suffered from various chronic illnesses (asthma, epilepsy, kidney issues) in my younger years. The medication left me borderline obese up until the age of around 14. When I was fully cured, I followed in my dad’s footsteps and started weight training. Fast forward to where I am now, as a strength coach, I have trained athletes for competition and competed in events myself:
2010 INBA Australian Victorian Championships, 2nd Place (Novice category), Winning ‘Best routine & poser’ as well (the video for my winning routine)
2013 ANB Victorian Championships, 2nd Place (Fitness Model, Over 30s)
2013 IFBB Victorian Championships competitor
At present, I am getting into calisthenics/ crossfit and am looking to compete in a Crossfit event in the near future. Fitness has given me a purpose in life, through my own journey, through helping others achieve their physical and emotional goals, I have been on a never-ending path of self-discovery. Being in a position where I actively contribute positively to someone’s life, I feel really privileged.
As far away as I remember, I was always an active child. My parents put me in all kinds of classes and sports, ranging from swimming, gymnastic to basketball and other team sports. At the age of 9, I found my passion when I started short track speed skating. I would practice the sport for a total of 12 years of my life, which took me to international level competitions around the world. You can find an article I wrote about my skating journey here.
Speed skating being such a complete and competitive sport, it taught me principles that I will carry with me forever: health and fitness, discipline, tenacity, determination and passion amongst plenty others. For that, I will always be grateful.
While competing in speed skating in my teen years, I also took part in provincial level track competitions. I have always been a natural runner, but never took it further as my winter sport took most of my time and energy.
Last year, after very little training due the long hours required to settle into my new job, I managed to run a half marathon here in Melbourne in a time of 1:41 which made me very proud and pumped. Since I am still young for a runner, I know that with proper training coupled with high performance nutrition, I will be able to take my running to another level. I would like to complete a half marathon in less than 1h30min, a full marathon under the 3:30 mark and finally, complete the Kona (Hawaii) half Ironman triathlon.
On a different plan, I also realized a goal of mine last October by standing on stage for the first time for a bikini competition. I competed at the IFBB Victorian titles in the Bikini first timer category. I was quite nervous on stage and did not “bring it” like I should have, but I was very happy with the journey that got me there and would love to compete in the near future as a figure competitor.
Finally, I have also been practicing Bikram yoga on and off for the past 7 years. Along with running, it has been a very healing practice for me and got me through the worst period of my life. I plan on soon taking my practice more seriously and do the gruelling teacher training as I dream of teaching it.
How would you describe your nutrition program?
I follow predominantly soy and gluten free approach to my nutrition. Most of my calories come from nuts, seeds, starches and fruits. Always keeping my diet clean, whole and organic here’s what a typical day for me looks like:
Meal 1: Green juice (Variety of greens, supergreen powders, blended with alkaline water)
Meal 2: Protein smoothie (flax meal, chia seeds, almond butter, pumpkin seeds, berries, plant based protein powder, blended with almond milk)
Meal 3: Large salad with chickpeas sprinkled with savory yeast flakes (love this!)
Meal 4: 1 Apple/ orange
Meal 5: Protein drink (post workout)
Meal 6: Bean stirfry with vegetables
I allow myself a cheat meal every Saturday night and it’s no holds barred for the occasion. One of my favorite deserts is the Chocolate Royale (vegan/ gluten free) at the veggie bar. Warm, moist, molten chocolate cake with a side of creamy soy vanilla ice cream!
After years of trial and errors of all the different lifestyle and combinations, I have finally found what works for me. I associate with the high carb, low fat, high fruit raw vegan lifestyle as promoted by Doug Graham (80-10-10).
I am a big fan of Freelee the Banana girl and Harley “Durianrider” Johnstone. They were my main motivators for my transition to veganism and the high fruit lifestyle. I love their easy going and realistic approach to this lifestyle which includes high carb/low fat/low salt cooked food like rice, potatoes and gluten free pasta as a “back up plan” when fruits are not abundant and too expensive. I do believe they have started a movement that will change the world in a better way.
My diet is very simple and goes as follows:
Breakfast: 6-8 bananas, blended as a smoothie or frozen as “ice cream”. I like to add a few dates or berries to the mix.
Lunch: 4 bananas cut in pieces and mixed with a few handfuls of baby spinach drenched in a sauce made of 10 dates, 1 passionfruit, mixed berries and carob powder.
Pre-workout: 2 bananas
A big salad made of a few spiralized zucchinis and beetroot, mixed with capsicum, celery, tomato, sprouts or any other vegetable or herbs I feel like. My favorite dressing is made of lemon juice, a tiny bit of tahini and different herbs and spices.
I then follow a bit later by a “ice cream” made of frozen berries and a banana.
High carb - low fat -low salt back up plan:
Either steamed potatoes/rice or gluten free pasta with steamed vegetables/fat free raw salad.
I’ve found that I do not digest soy and gluten well so I go soy & gluten free. I only buy organic produce mainly because they are exempt of all the “nasties” like pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals. I believe they are more nutrient dense and often taste better.
How would you describe your training program?
I workout 5 times a week. I periodise my training and stick to my program for 2-3 weeks before I change my routine. I am into crossfit and I try to expose myself to different modalities of training. Currently I am working at improving technical aspects of the Olympic lifts (Snatch, clean press, clean jerk), breaking down each movement and improving my technique/ strength for each lift (eg: deadlift variations, squat variations, cleans, presses). I also incorporate traditional bodybuilding movements (compound and isolation)/ strongman training with the intention of hypertrophying, strengthening the muscle groups needed to improve maximal output for the big lifts.
I undulate my rep ranges/ tempo/ rest brakes with each phase (hypertrophy, muscular enduarance/ strength), ensuring that my muscular/ nervous system is always challenged. Incorporating different crossfit ‘WODs’, alternating between long runs and sprints, my aim is to have optimal level of performance across all energy systems. Next goals are taking up calisthenics and competing in a crossfit event.
I exercise 3 to 6 days a week, depending on my day job work load. On a typical week, I will strength train 2 times with Luke (husband and coach), I will go for 1 or 2 long runs, maybe also do some sprints of some kind (I love hill sprints), do a Bikram Yoga session and participate to a strongman session.
I do love to mix things up as I have a short attention span and get bored very quickly. Apart from running which I can do for hours with good music on my ears. Luke takes care of designing my strength program and does change it around quite often. I like when he keeps it intense and fairly quick (30-45 min per session).
I do feel better when I train more as it is my outlet from a stressful job and my way of meditating, however, I do not feel obligated and pressured or guilty if I skip a day.
What kind of supplements do you use if any, and why?
1. Branched Chain Amino Acids – Taken pre/intra/ post workout to facilitate muscle protein synthesis, growth, repair and recovery.
2. Vitamin B12 – Deficiency has been linked to cognitive disorders, auto-immune diseases
3. Glutamine – Taken post workout to aid with muscle growth/ repair/ reduction in cortisol, improved immune function.
4. Plant based protein powders – Quick and convenient way for me to hit my protein goals, increase muscle growth.
5. Magnesium – Taken just before bed. Magnesium has been researched to boost testosterone, increase insulin sensitivity. It also helps me get a good rested sleep.
I previously in my life took a high amount of supplements as I was instructed by a coach (when I was skating) to swallow up to 10-15 pills before each meal. It would stress me out as I would often choke on the capsules. I developed an aversion to them and promised myself that I would find a lifestyle which allows me to keep supplement intake to a minimum. I did indeed with the organic high fruit/vegetable diet.
I supplement with B12 on a daily basis as deficiencies may develop due to our overly sanitized foods these days.
While preparing for a show, I supplemented with branch chain amino acids to facilitate recovery and muscle building purposes. In the lead up to the competition, I also used vegan protein powders (hemp, rice and pea) to help boost my protein intake.
How do people react when they find out you are vegan?
They are surprised, impressed and often ask that eternal question, ‘where do you get your protein?’.
The reaction goes from “Wow I have so much respect with what you do” to “I could never do it”, “poor you” and “do you eat fish?”.
People are either really interested in the lifestyle and ask a lot of question or feel uneasy as it does expose their own insecurities.
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?
Vegans are weak, sickly and malnourished – The game has changed and vegans these days are definitely showing otherwise. To me, a plant-based diet is not only functional, sustainable but also optimal for health and performance.
Vegans are all tree-hugging hippies – More and more actors, public personalities, athletes, professionals are embracing the lifestyle. The movement is growing and its great to see that more and more people transitioning to veganism, depending less on animal products/ byproducts.
It’s hard to be a vegan – More and more restaurants/ grocery outlets are offering more vegan options. Speaking to a restaurateur a while back, he is planning to open another restaurant (a vegan one) as this is a growing market to him. Whatever recipe/ dish you love to eat, there is always a ‘veganised’ option. Google it!
Apart from the usual “vegans are skinny, sickly hippies” what I hear most is “I would love to be a vegan, but it’s too difficult, you must always be eating the same thing and preparing your meals must take so long…”
To that I respond that being a vegan is actually so much easier than being an omnivore! My breakfast is basically 6-8 bananas zapped in a high speed blender! A lot quicker than cooking eggs and bacon, isn’t it? Fruit and vegetables are mother nature’s fast food. They come right from nature in their own packaging.
I also feel like my diet has a lot more variety than back in my meat eating days. I love playing with the colors and trying new fruits.
Fashion wise, I find it also very easy to not consume any leather/silk and wool products. I have stopped being a fashion victim and just simplified everything.
Have you had success in promoting veganism / vegetarianism to others? If so, how did you go about it?
I believe the best way to promote veganism/ vegetarianism is to lead by example. I openly share my journey, achievements and through that I believe I have inspired colleagues, friends and clients to be more open towards the movement. I have noticed that peers are opting to use plant-based proteins and asking me how to depend less on animal products. Our gym (the ASP Centre) now also stocks a line of vegan proteins at our ‘Fuel’ shake bar.
Depending on the client’s goal (muscle building/ fatloss/ health). I coach clients to follow a plant based approach and they have experienced success in improving their body composition, health, digestion and overall vitality and energy levels.
The best form of activism is to be a shining example of what veganism is about. Be healthy, fit, positive, non judgmental, compassionate.
I believe in preaching by example. I am a pretty fiery person and I can get heated up and passionate during debates, however, I know that words do not work for everyone.
At work, people first get curious and surprised when then see how much fruit I eat. They then got curious and interested as I am in great shape and never sick. I have not “converted” any of my colleagues yet, but I sure have planted a seed in their head.
I know of people around me who I have inspired to adopt a plant based lifestyle or to at least cut down on their animal product intake. My husband Luke was the first one and I’m quite proud of it and happy to be sharing such an important part of my life with him.
What do you think the most important aspect of training is?
It really depends on what your goals are. Whether you are a powerlifter, crossfitter, bodybuilder/ physique/ bikini competitor, basketballer, endurance runner, the main thing is to be consistent in your training and always set new goals for yourself. It could be a competition of some sort, a fun run, an event or even achieving a pb (personal best time/ weight). This goal will keep you motivated throughout your pursuits (the all important ‘why’).
I think having a goal is so important. It really gives you a reason to wake up early to fit that workout in or go to the gym when you feel like watching television. There are so many ways to set personal goals: bodybuilding competition, half/full marathons, shorter fun runs, cross fit competition, strong man contests, etc
A great achievement like trekking the Inca Trail or climbing Killimanjaro (two items on my bucket list) can provide that motivation to get fit and healthy.
What do you like best about being vegan?
The sense of community and the purpose it has given me. I have connected with so many different people within Australia and the world. Since we share the same ideals/ value systems for a better world, conversations and interactions are always so enriching.
Since becoming vegan, countless opportunities have arisen. I have done several other interviews and made public appearances at different events. Through veganism, I have found purpose in my life. Coaching and inspiring others to make positive changes in their lives, I am feeding into my ‘why’ I believe I exist in this life, which is to add value to the world.
Apart from all the health benefits I’ve experienced so far, the best part about the lifestyle is the people! I love the vegan community! It is so tight knit, like a big extended family! Since going vegan, I have connected with so many different like-minded individuals from all over the world. What we have in common is kindness and compassion, two qualities that have the capacity to stop wars, clean our air and water and gradually make this world a better place.
I love that each of my meal is just positive energy, that I am not absorbing any cruelty and suffering. Energy does not disappear, it only transforms. In other words, eating meat is eating the pain and agony of these poor animals. I enjoy living in accordance with my heart as I am a sensitive person and love animals more than anything else on this planet!
What do you like best about being fit?
Clarity of thought and the confidence to take on any one of life’s given physical/ mental challenges.
I am always ready for a new adventure, ready to go. I know I can take on any physical challenge that is thrown to me. I find it also helps me in my job which is often mentally challenging. As I know what it is like to push myself beyond my physical limits, I know I can do the same mentally.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with training?
Aim big, take small steps, set your own achievable benchmarks and ask for help/ research if you aren’t sure. If you want to excel in an activity/ sport, model your behavior and perspective to an idol of yours (what would he/she do?, how would he/she train?).
‘Success always leaves clues’, Coach Scott Abel
If you want to weight train, look around for a good personal trainer. He/she will give you direction, motivate you and help you push your limits. He/she will also keep you accountable. I really believe it is a great investment.
For any other sport, join a team. Group training is so much more enjoyable and motivating. You will also meet like minded people. A lot of people around me including myself have met their partner at the gym.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of becoming vegan?
Make small changes even if it’s having one meatless meal/ day, depending less on animal products, every little bit counts. Learn to reach out if you are stuck because there is a whole community ready and willing to help (not to mention the resources). When you start being open to veganism, start researching on the movement and why it’s beneficial for you, the animals and the planet.
In my experience, the more I researched, the more the perspective made sense. Veganism is not just a diet, it is a value and belief system, a lifestyle. It promotes health, sustainability, compassion and peace. It terms of connectedness, we all share the same existence this lifetime (and the many more to come) as ‘Earthlings’.
I think everyone is different when it comes to converting to veganism. For me what worked was to let go gradually of animal products as my husband went pretty much overnight.
Do what you feel is best for you. If for the moment you are not comfortable with giving up eggs or dairy or fish. It is ok. By giving up everything else, you are already making a huge difference. One day, you will see, you will be able to let go of this last bit. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself, it is not a contest or a race. Just always keep informed, know what is really happening in the different animal product industry. Ignorance is worst than anything. As Sir Paul McCartney said "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian”.
When completely making the transition, do it well. Make sure that you eat mostly organic, healthy, whole food: mostly fruits and veggies, beans, lentils, gluten free grains, unprocessed soy products (if not intolerant). Mock meat can be a good way to transition, but it is often highly processed and should only be eaten once in a while. Instead, learn to use mushrooms and tempeh to imitate the texture of meat.
Make sure you eat enough! It is the main reason why some people fail on a vegan diet and go back to eating meat. It is very easy to eat too little calories on a vegan diet especially when keeping your fat intake low. The first few weeks, keep a rough account of your calories. Vegan food being less calorie dense than meat, you will need more calories compared to a meat eater. Depending on your sex, age or level of activity, your needs might range from around 1500 calories (depending on weight) to sometimes 5000-6000 for very active males. Do not be surprised if you eat incredible volumes of food. Remember that fruits and vegetables are not as calorie dense.
Surround yourself with other vegans. If that’s not possible, connect with them via the Internet. You will need the support system, especially if you are going through the journey by yourself. Don’t be an angry vegan. Positivity breeds positivity. Walk around with a big smile on your face, be kind, be active. You will see how quickly people will ask you advice and help to make the switch themselves!
What motivates you in life?
These three beliefs:
Anything and everything is possible
Helping others is helping myself
We share more similarities then we do differences
My dreams and my goals are the fuel of my life. Connecting with other individuals is also very important as well as knowing that I am making a difference.
What do you think of veganbodybuilding.com? Has it helped or inspired you?
Vegan bodybuilding has definitely inspired me to do what I do. The book made me believe that if you are passionate about something, strive for it and learn to follow your heart.
It was one of the first resources that I explored when I was thinking of taking the plant based approach. It really helped given a new perspective and inspired me to be a professional vegan athlete one day (like the ones featured on the vegan bodybuilding & fitness website).
Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share?
A piece I wrote a while back on connecting, following your heart and finding purpose:
Make your own way