Pui-Shan is a vegan marathon woman who has travelled to Sydney and the Gold Coast to compete. She plans to do the London marathon as well as the Vegan Triathlon in Christchurch. Her last 50km race she completed in 5 hrs 52 mins. Pui-Shan finished 8th in the women's category and 28th out of 544 overall.
Q: How long have you been a vegan and why?
Pui-Shan: I had dabbled in vegetarianism when I was at Uni (about 16 year ago). I had no idea why. My transition to veganism began about 18 months ago and I was vegetarian for 5 years before that. I never had an epiphany or anything like that. As I became more involved in my health and fitness, my research pointed toward a vegan diet being the most healthy and efficient. It makes me feel good physically and mentally, and perform better.
Q: Have you always been a health and fitness conscious person?
Pui-Shan: I was never a healthy or fit person. I taught myself to swim when I was 18 years old. I enjoyed sport at school although I was never very good at it! In fact it was only about 3 years ago I weighed 20kg more than I do now. I used to run a little bit and about 5 years ago I decided to take it up again. I started with a few 5km fun runs, the 10km fun runs. One day I decided I wanted to run a half marathon. After doing another I decided it wasn't enough and started training for a marathon. Now I've done 6 marathons, my last one being slightly longer (50kms).
Q: When you are training for a marathon what do you eat that gives you energy and stamina?
Pui-Shan: When I am training, I eat a lot of carbs to fuel up the glycogen stores in my muscles. Lots of rice, noodles, quinoa, cous cous and pasta. I love pizza. I make my own (because some places add milk to their bases) and put lots of vegies on it. I also like going to Plush Pizza or having the pizzas at the Vegie Bar. When I run a marathon I will usually have a couple of sports gels (the ones made with pectin), a Leda fruit bar, a chilli tofu or jam roll and a packet of vegan jelly lollies. I love Cheery Bears! I don't consume any of the commercial sports drinks or protein bars as most have dairy (whey) in them.
Q: What is your typical breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Pui-Shan: My general diet is...
Breakfast - scrambled tofu with mushrooms, chilli, coriander, cumin and turmeric (for anti-inflammatory benefits) and/or toast with peanut butter
Morning tea - dates, raisins and raw nuts
Lunch - Chilli tofu sandwich or peanut butter sandwich + Spinach, beetroot and lentil salad + orange
Afternoon tea - banana
Dinner - Pizza with lots of veggies, rice or noodles with veg, lentil and chickpea curry
Extras - anything that anyone offers me that is vegan.
I take a B12 supplement at the moment. I try not to take vitamins or supplements if I can help it. I think everything works more efficiently if you consume it via proper food sources from the earth.
I love to cook and use as many organic and fresh ingredients as possible. I also buy my own grains to grind into flour so I can make my own bread. Bread is so good for you but the commercial bread industry with their "plastic-bread and the Atkins diet thing have really given it a beating.
Q: What motivates you to help animals?
Pui-Shan: Even though my original motivation for becoming vegan was for health reasons I've educated myself about the animal perspective. I grew up in the city/suburbia so I never had any contact with animals, it wasn't until I went to Edgar's Mission that I realised there is a stronger motivation for my veganism than my own personal benefit. The knowledge of what really goes on in slaughter houses and puppy farms is quite distressing and upsetting. You get angry because you want to change the world and make people see what you see. Running helps me sort through those thoughts, and allows me to think.
Q: Are there any humans/animals in your life who inspire you?
Pui-Shan: Edgar Alan from Edgar's Mission inspires me. It's funny, I never thought he would make such a difference to my life. I had only met him once. I cried when he passed on. I usually don't cry much so I was quite surprised. Scott Jurek inspires me too. He is an American ultramarathoner who is vegan. He eats a great diet when running, such as a pita bread pockets stuffed with hummus and olives. I aspire to be more "vegan-gourmet" on my runs!
Q: Are many of your friends/family vegan? What do they think of your compassionate diet?
Pui-Shan: I have two friends that are vegan. One is a high school friend who I relied heavily on for advice during my transition period and another who I met on a volunteer day at Edgar's Mission. None of my family or other friends are vegan. I had one tell me it was a "pain in the [at]rse". I will never go over there for dinner again! I find it difficult going over for dinner to non-vegan households as even though they try, they are usually not aware of the animal products or by-products in ingredients. It's my job to educate them. We will get there! If I lose friends because I am vegan then that is the way it is going to be. A true friend would take the time to listen and understand my point of view. My parents don't know I'm vegan, they don't understand, they don't understand the running thing either. Gee, it all sounds full of woe!
Q: What are your favourite foods?
Pui-Shan: I love food, there is so much out there to consume without harming animals. I think it really is a case of "when one door closes, another door opens" in regards to food as so many people ask, "What is there left to eat?" If the world did not consume animals they would discover a plethora of wonderful food.
Q: What do you do to relax and unwind? How long does it take you to get back training after a marathon?
Pui-Shan: I read. I'm in the middle of reading the China Study and the London Marathon at the moment. I'm also in the process of reading my Vegan Voice and Women's Health magazine. I read it and then I digest it during my runs. It gives me time to sort out the cr[at]p from the facts. After a marathon I go for a short "recovery" run to blow away any lactic acid left in the muscles. Then I generally get back into it when my body feels ready, which is usually within a week. Everyone is different so you should listen to your body.