I've always been fascinated with vegans and their uber commitment to their lifestyle.  They don't eat meat or anything that derives from meat including milk or dairy products. 

Even more fascinating is how vegans prepare for bodybuilding competitions especially when their food is carb based.
So I thought I'd catch up with Ally 'the vegan beast' Cohen who could provide a fascinating insight into the life of a vegan as she is preparing to compete in the BSN Athletic Model Contest at the NZ Fitness Expo.  Slowly but surely, Ally has dropped 8kg since November 2013 and is looking in great shape for the stage.  In this update I ask her how she did and she gives us an insight into her daily diet.

1. What actually is a vegan and what do you eat and don't eat. When did you become vegan and why.
I think I’d like to use two definitions, they essentially are the same but one is simple and one is a bit more complex:

“Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself”


"The word 'veganism' denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."

I became a vegan for political reasons. I abhor the treatment of animals and the farming practices used by corporations that lead to what I can only call environmental crimes. Moral, ethical, spiritual, political, environmental, and social justice depends on people rejecting animal abuse and use and becoming vegan. YES I am passionate, because I love this planet and I think it is a crime what is being done to it.
  2. Initially how did your body feel not eating meat. Did you get low energy, lethargic, hungry?

Initially I felt great! I no longer felt sad and guilty for eating the dead bodies of animals. I had been vegetarian for most of my life and the spell of being a carnist was making me emotionally unwell.

Vegans are never hungry because we eat constantly J That’s the best part, we graze all day long. And unless I’m shredding for a comp I eat whatever whenever because my food is healthy and delicious.


3. What's the main difference between your normal vegan diet to a pre contest one.

My normal vegan lifestyle includes constant grazing on nuts and seeds and nut butters and dark chocolates. But in pre-contest I have to say a very sad farewell to all these amazing calorie dense foods! I eat nearly 80% raw food anyway, because let’s be honest it’s easier to eat a raw meal than to cook one and eating raw is the healthiest way to eat anyway – so it’s a win-win.


4. When athletes go into pre contest diet, they usually decrease their carbs as part of an overall calorie deficit to lose weight.  How do you manage this considering most of your food is carb based.

Most of my foods are dark green vegetables, beans, legumes, tofu and tempeh. I eat some quinoa occasionally but stay away from rice and breads except as an occasional treat in vegan sushi. I do love my raw beetroot and carrot salad, but they have low GI as long as they are raw so I just cut back a little bit on them.
       So I usually up my greens, and reduce the servings of beans/tofu or whatever I eat with it. Add in an extra vegan proteins shake and do my best to make one big green apple last through the entire day. I am not a big fruit eater so I don’t have to worry about that. 


5. Can you give us an example of your daily diet.  How much volume of food do you have as we imagine you must have to eat all day to get in the calories.

Haha! Yes I DO eat all day long, but only because I love to graze. When not shredding I eat such calorie dense foods actually I have to be careful. Chia, sesame, pumpkin and other seeds are so dense as are almonds, coconut and peanuts and cashews. Turn those nuts into butter, give me a spoon and 25 serves are GONE in a flash! So no I don’t have any problem getting my calories or my protein!

So shredding diet looks like this

5am: wake up

5.30: drink my pre-workout- any one that is vegan will do J

6am: weight train – my PT gives me a new programme every 3-4 weeks

8: vegan protein shake, with chia seeds, barley powder, coconut cream, cacao (sometimes), and a long black


9. green tea

10: half a green apple, celery sticks, 5-10 almonds, another long black

12p: large green salad- kale, cabbage (green and/or purple), often some steamed silverbeet and other Chinese greens, raw broccoli, freshly ground turmeric and ginger, apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, celery, grated carrots and beetroots, and either a half a cup of beans or a serving of tofu or tempeh. If I’m not calorie counting I toss in sesame seeds, walnuts, avocado, other seeds and shredded coconut. I have a green tea after lunch.

2.30/3pm: the other half of the green apple, more celery, 5-20 more almonds, and a long black and a green tea after the coffee

4.30pm: before I head to the gym to do some more training (classes/cardio) I’ll have another protein shake

7.30pm: I usually snack on some edamane while I make another epic salad and I make it huge so I divide half and take for the following days lunch. Green tea after dinner

8.30: bedtime

6. What is your weight training and cardio regime. ie give us your training split for the week and when you do your cardio - if any. 

Well lucky for me I have a wonderful PT who gives me a new programme every few weeks. At the beginning of the year he sat down and planned out with me all the weights and cardio and classes I ought to be doing to get up to this comp looking better than last year J .

Mon, Tues, Thurs (expect when I run on Thurs am) I do my weights in the morning. Sometimes I am do mono training and sometimes I’m doing supersets, but Dan has a theory that I should be doing 300-500 reps each session of whatever exercises he’s got me doing, so that’s what I do. Wed mornings I like to take pump and CX with Nats Levi and if I’m not calorie deprived I stay on for Grit Cardio.

In the evenings, Mon and Wed I do the slow fat burning machine and watch shortland street on Demand (haha love that show).

Tue I do Grit and Balance.
Thurs so long as I’m not to exhausted I do Grit and Balance otherwise I do Jam and Balance.

Friday mornings I meet with my PT and he smashes me and Friday night I do CX and Balance.

Sat I do weights, more slow cardio, and Balance and Sunday possibly Pump if I’m up that early and then I always do Balance.

7. Athletes rely on supplements a lot when they start to cut down calories, some increase their intake of protein shakes. What do you do take in extra protein so you don't lose mass.

Some vegan athletes are really against supps. I personally don’t see anything wrong with them so long as they are vegan. I use pea proteins or other vegan protein powders. I use pre-workouts because 5am in the winter can be very early.


8. When did you start dieting and what weight/fat loss have you achieved during that time.

Well I’ll be honest; I have been slowly dieting and training for this comp since I finished the Auckland Marathon last year. Dan and I decided the healthiest option was to slowly shred the fat off and add muscle. So since I stopped running the marathon and focused on weight training, say end of November last year I have lost 8 kgs. And several dress sizes.

9. Are you happy with your progress and what are you looking to most when you've finally competed in the BSN Athletic Model Contest?

Yes I am very pleased with my progress. I set out to be better than my last year’s self and I have achieved that with high marks! Additionally being invited to tell my story to you has been a bonus!

I want to continue to become stronger and exemplify why being a vegan is not just for skinny people. Veganism is for all people, big and tall, small and short, young and old.

Veganism is a lifestyle that promotes peace and justice for all living beings and the Earth as well. I feel it is the message I was sent to spread and I hope to do so in the fitness industry by being an example.

Ally 2013                Ally 2014

Ally 'the Vegan Beast' Cohen
July 2014

Go on facebook!

Follow us on facebook
and keep up to date
with latest news
and activities

You are now being logged in using your Facebook credentials