Mya is a passionate vegan who is currently cycling across 10 states in the US. She is also a chef and makes fantastic food; check out her simple brownie recipe below. Mya has more exciting cycle events planned over the next few months and I’m really looking forward to following the rest of her journey across the USA. She is a wonderful example of a fit, healthy vegan with a ‘can-do’ attitude; love it!
How long have you been vegan?
I became vegan in 2013.
What made you decide to become vegan?
I was working as a chef in many different restaurants on the East Coast of the United States for over a decade. I ate what was easily available in the kitchens of these restaurants. I weighed 145 pounds. I was unhappy and depressed. I lost 30 pounds in three months just by eliminating meat and dairy from my diet and drinking organic raw juices and eating the way I used to eat prior to working in restaurants.
What differences have you noticed with your training or lifestyle?
I’m a happier person who strives to achieve more.
Tell us about your chosen sport and training. What does it involve?
I’m currently bikepacking along the TransAmerica Bicycle Route that runs 4262 miles total and across 10 states: Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Oregon
I started riding on July 5th and I hope to finish before the end of September. It involves eating nutritionally-balanced meals, determination and endurance to climb hills, ride into the head winds and in the rain.
How often do you train?
I ride 6 days a week on a loaded touring bicycle. My average distance per day is 70 miles. I have ridden 114 miles on my best day so far. I get up at 5:30 am. After eating breakfast, I ride for about 4-5 hours. After taking 30-45 minutes for lunch break, I then ride again until late afternoon or sometimes early evening, depending on the difficulty of climbs and speed of the wind blowing against the direction I’m riding.
Tell us about some of your achievements to date?
I am currently in Oregon and have ridden about 3,900 miles on TransAm Bicycle Route.
I’m working on a cookbook: Eat Slowly, Move Fast: Plant-Perfect Recipes by a Holistic Chef & Cross Country Cyclist.
How do family and friends react to your vegan lifestyle?
Most of them admire my vegan lifestyle.
How do you promote your vegan lifestyle?
I blog about my vegan lifestyle as part of my online journal on cross-country cycling.
What do you eat in a typical day?
Oatmeal with bananas, apples, peaches or berries
Brown rice and wild rice pilaf or plain baked potatoes
Lots of raw and cooked vegetables: cucumbers, celery, baby greens, tomatoes, avocados, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, kale, sprouts
Bean or lentil stew
Pistachios, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
Lots of fruits: cantaloupe, apples, oranges, plums, peaches, berries
What is your favourite food or recipe?
I’m a chef by trade. I have many favorite recipes that are my own. Here is one that was recently published in the city I had called home for the past five years: Brilliant Brownies.
Do you take any supplements?
I don’t. All the nutrients my body needs come from a variety of health food I consciously eat.
What advice would you give to people thinking of going vegan?
Take baby steps. I eliminated meat, poultry and dairy from my diet first and then quit seafood and eggs later, instead of quitting everything all at once. Potato chips, peanut butter, white bread and Oreo cookies are vegan but these won’t sustain one nutritionally nor will the processed fake meats. Eating lots of whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables is the best way to go vegan and remain vegan.
What events or other exciting things do you have planned in the next 12 months?
In November, I will be attempting the Dirty Dozen Bike Race in Pittsburgh, climbing the world’s steepest hill with 37% grade. (More info about the history of the race http://www.dannychew.com/dd.html)
Next summer, I will be hiking the Appalachian Trail. I will try to finish in about 3 months with an average of 20 miles a day.
What do you do outside of your sport/training for fun?
I’m an avid reader. I also blog about my bicycle travel.
Who are your biggest motivators in life?
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Some of the most successful people have failed at least once.
One of the few chefs I admire and look up to is Jose Andres, Spanish-born chef who came to America with hardly any money in his pocket when I was a young man. He now owns several restaurants in Washington, DC and Chicago and is a James Beard Award winning chef. When a chef who does cook and eat meat told Anderson Cooper on the 60-Minute show that, “Vegetables are sexy,” that is something. He then said meat tastes good for a minute before it starts to get chewy.
To my knowledge, no vegan/ vegetarian chef has won a James Beard Award in America. Perhaps that day will come soon.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Note that I do not make a habit of eating “enriched” wheat, soy-based products and corn. Living in the United States and knowing that ingredients that are banned in other Western countries are still legal here, I feel that it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to these food items. Unless these are certified organic or certified GMO-free, I assume they are not and avoid them. I also avoid refined sugar as I’m getting natural fructose from fruits.
If you’d like to follow Mya’s cycling journey and find out when her book is coming out, head on over to her social media accounts:
Thank you so much Mya. Keep an eye out on the blog every Fitness Friday for more vegan athletes.