Toronto Furies forward Shiann Darkangelo has a lot on her plate. In addition to being a pro hockey player, she’s also a business owner, entrepreneur, and whole food plant-based lifestyle coach.
The Ice Garden caught up with her to learn more about her company Plant-Based Performance, her goals, and some common misconceptions around athlete nutrition.
When did you transition to a plant-based diet? What inspired the change?
I transitioned to a plant-based diet my freshman year of college, I was having some stomach problems and a friend of my mom who was plant-based suggested I cut out meat, I tried it and it made a difference so I stuck with it after that. Over the years I have become more strict and got away from eating fish and dairy also, trying to eat whole foods.
There’s a belief that it’s hard to be an athlete and get proper nutrition while living a plant-based lifestyle. What are some essentials in your diet that keep you feeling your best?
I think that belief is getting smaller as we speak, many more athletes are switching to a plant-based diet and I think you will continue to see more of that, especially with the new dietary guide that Canada just released for 2019.
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Being an athlete you definitely need to fuel up pre- and post workouts to be at your best. I eat a lot of bananas when training and in season. Love them between periods during a game.
How did you decide to start Plant-Based Performance? What are your goals for the company?
I just thought it was catchy and it was something I discussed with family members and friends. I didn’t want it to be specifically geared toward athletes because I’d like to help anyone looking to improve their lifestyle! And my goal for the company is to educate people on plant-based whole foods and how simple it should be to live a balanced lifestyle.
One of the services you offer is a personalized meal plan. How do you work with a client to design one?
Well, I don’t fully believe in having a strict meal plan, because when you are eating a plant-based diet centered around whole foods, then portion control is not a factor. So it would depend on where the client is on their journey toward a plant-based diet, and discuss their goals, and then present them with options on how we can reach those goals, whether that be cutting out certain foods or finding substitutes to help them adjust to their new lifestyle. Because at the end of the day I believe it is not a diet, it is a lifestyle!
I notice there’s more use of the term ‘plant-based’ as opposed to ‘vegan’ on your website. Was that a conscious choice? Are there differences in what those terms mean?
Yes, I did choose plant-based because my focus is on whole foods, so as good as it is to be vegan, you can still eat junk food and lots of processed foods if you choose. So my focus is on whole foods coming from plants. If you can choose more foods without labels then you are off to a better start!
What’s your favorite meal?
My favorite meal, that’s a tough one, so many good foods out there, I don’t think I am very picky. Right now my favorite snack/lunch food would have to be spring rolls which I generally fill with rice, avocado, cucumber, green onion, and sweet potato!