I first heard about Jen, Dave and their dog Sora through Dakota Gale that I interviewed and featured a few weeks ago (click here to read the article). As soon as I heard that they were travelling the world with their dog, I jumped onto their instagram account and was hooked! How amazing to be able to travel the world with your 4-legged best friend. As someone who has rescued a dog from overseas, this immediately touched by heart and I contacted Jen asking if they would like to be featured. I hope you enjoy reading about this inspirational family.
How long have you been vegan?
We became vegan in June 2015, after nine years of vegetarianism for Jen and seven for Dave.
What made you decide to become vegan?
Jen had been considering becoming vegan for a while, and had gone vegan off and on for several months, eating vegetarian when we would go out to eat or when we visited friends in their home, because it was easier. At home, she cooked vegan 98% of the time.
When we left for our bicycle tour in April 2015, we assumed vegan travel would be too difficult on the road, until our friends, (Chelsea and Dakota – see above link for interview with them) met us in Europe to tour together for three weeks. They showed us how to find vegan restaurants, informed us of the vegan passport, and demonstrated that eating vegan on the road is quite simple. So we gave it a shot and never went back.
We are both huge animal lovers and every time we ride past a factory farm, flock of sheep, or see chickens smashed together in a semi on the road, we validate our decision to follow a vegan diet.
What differences have you noticed with your training or lifestyle?
When Jen first became vegetarian, she was in the middle of training for a half marathon. Pounds dropped without her intending to lose weight and her training times decreased drastically. She had incredible energy and recovery times were quicker.
Dave realized that he was lactose intolerant and has noticed fewer digestive issues. We also found that we were eating a lot of cheese and pastries, especially while traveling. Now that we don’t eat cheese and most pastries are not vegan, we’re eating even healthier than before and when we do find vegan desserts, it tastes even better!
Tell us about your chosen sport and training. What does it involve?
Our dog, Sora convinced us to take her on a world cycle tour. She saw that we were unhappy in our jobs and how little time remained for play when we were at home.
So we saved money for a year, quit our jobs, and set off for Europe in April 2015, where we cycle toured from Oslo, Norway to Athens, Greece, via the Balkans and Turkey. From there, we headed to South America to begin our Patagonia to Portland, Oregon tour.
Each day, we cycle anywhere from 50-80kms, which equates to about 6-8 hours on our bikes. We pedal on back roads if we can, or along major highways, like the Pan American (which we don’t love!) We ride through small towns and interact often with the local people. It can be incredibly exhausting – we end each day feeling great from a full day of physical activity, ready to hit the sack as soon as we stop!
How often do you train?
Every day! We take days off regularly to rest and recover. Cycle touring is great because it’s such a low-impact sport, it doesn’t wear on your body the same way as other activities, so we can go for long hours each day without sacrificing our bodies.
Tell us about some of your achievements to date?
From April to December 2015, we cycled some 6,500km from Oslo to Istanbul.
In January 2016, we set off from Ushuaia, Argentina, known as El Fin del Mundo (the end of the world) to pedal back home to Portland, Oregon.
How do family and friends react to your vegan lifestyle?
They’ve been quite understanding and accommodating. Portland is a city where it seems that everyone has some kind of dietary restriction, so it’s never been a problem at home. Jen will often offer to make a dish or a dessert when we are with our families to show them how delicious vegan eating can be, and prove that you don’t have to miss out on nutrition or taste.
How do you promote your vegan lifestyle?
Many parts of the world where we’ve traveled, there’s not even a word for vegan. We have to describe ourselves as vegetarians who don’t eat eggs or dairy. Since it’s such a foreign concept in some places, it allows us the opportunity to explain what the diet is and why we choose to eat in this way.
As mentioned above, Jen will often make a vegan dish. Recently, while staying with family friends in the Lakes Region in Chile for a few weeks, Jen wowed them with vegan nachos, chocolate tortes, and prepared an entirely vegan meal one evening. They wouldn’t allow us to leave before writing down all the recipes!
Further, Jen creates vegan camp recipes on our blog. Prior to leaving, she scoured the internet for sources of vegan camp food and was disappointed with the results, so she decided to become the go-to place for vegan camp recipes.
What do you eat in a typical day?
Breakfast generally consists of overnight oats, though after a year of them straight, we’re getting a bit sick of them! We like to leave quickly in the morning, and they’re ready when we wake up. We also eat a ton of fruit with muesli sprinkled on top.
Lunch depends on what part of the world we’re in. Right now, we’re eating a lot of avocado and tomato sandwiches. In Greece and Turkey, it was dolmas and olive paste and in the Balkans, we consumed a ton of ajvar, a red pepper paste.
Dinners vary from soups – lots of chilis and curries, to salads in the summer months when it’s hot, to rice bowls with steamed veggies on top.
Dessert is usually dark chocolate!
What is your favourite food or recipe?
We love smoothies and eat them every day for breakfast at home. We’ve also realised how much we miss Mexican food since traveling. We’re so spoiled in the US with the abundance of international cuisine.
Right now, Jen is obsessed with Golden Milk , a turmeric drink with all sorts of anti-inflammatory properties and super spices and Dave is keen on a vegan chili recipe we inherited from some fellow vegan German cyclists we met in Patagonia.
Do you take any supplements?
We take B12, turmeric pills, calcium and magnesium.
What advice would you give to people thinking of going vegan?
Ease into it. Giving everything up at once can be daunting and lead to displeasure. Try it for a month to see how it goes, or slowly begin omitting particular foods. Do research beforehand to find good recipes, otherwise you’ll be miserable and think that all you can eat is pasta or salad. There are are fantastic vegan food blogs out there with delicious and creative dishes that won’t have you missing animal products.
What events or other exciting things do you have planned in the next 12 months?
Bicycling back to the US will likely take us another year or more, so that pretty much plans our year!
What do you do outside of your sport/training for fun?
At home, we’re runners. Jen has run several marathons and a 50k, and got Dave into the sport when we began dating. We love hiking and exploring Oregon, drinking beer at many of Portland’s craft breweries, and of course whipping up delicious vegan meals in the kitchen.
We’re looking for animal shelters to volunteer while we’re on the road. There are so many stray animals and we want to help them as much as we can.
Who are your biggest motivators in life?
Alastair Humphries for Dave because he is someone has chosen travel and adventure over the traditional career path.
Jen is motivated by vegan food bloggers like Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows and Dana Schultz of the Minimalist Baker who prove that vegan food can be just as delicious without animal products.
Would you like to find out more about Jen, Dave and their travels with Sora? If so, head on over to their links below:
Thank you so much Jen, Dave and Sora! Keep an eye out on the blog every Fitness Friday for more vegan athletes.