Vegan athlete: Simone Collins

Last time we got to know Jack Morrow and learn about why he went vegan and how he trains for powerlifting and bodybuilding.

Now it's time for the next vegan athlete!

This time I've talked to Simone Collins – a long time reader of Athlegan. She's a CrossFitter, figure competitor, obstacle racer, and budding Strongwoman. A pretty damn awesome vegan in other words.

Hey Simi! How's your training coming on?

Great thanks! Since my last figure comp I've been dabbling in CrossFit, which is HEAPS of fun! It's also allowed me to develop a more functional skill set, compared to my bodybuilding training, which simply focused on building muscle and included a lot of isolation and training with machines.

Simon Collins in the gym

One thing I started to notice was that my overall maximum strength was actually quite lacking. To improve on this I've started training with a personal program from my CrossFit coach Ben Lustig, focusing on strength building and mostly based on the core lifts (squat, deadlift, overhead presses, and bench) with accessory work.

It's quite different to how I'm used to training, especially as there are only 4 days of lifting. But it's very heavy and intense work, and I'm finding the recovery time just as important. So far it's been amazing seeing my numbers finally going up!

In between weight lifting sessions, I like to ride my bike if my legs aren't too sore!

You seem to be quite active, with obstacle races, figure competitions, and CrossFit. What's your favorite activity and why?

That's such a hard question!

I do love CrossFit, as it's always varied and exciting, and helps you improve on so many different areas of fitness! It's a training system that can really prepare you for anything, and since starting, I've been more inspired to try new things (like obstacle races) because I feel like there's so much more I can do with my body now!

Simone Collins throwing a spear

What goals are you gunning for at the moment and how are you structuring your training to reach those?

At the moment, I'm taking a little time off figure comps. This is because I would like to gain a little more muscle to be more competitive in my division, and also because I want to build my strength up.

Doing comp after comp, I could feel my strength development was at a stand still - I would gain strength in between comps but lose it again when I dieted down for stage. I also felt like my body, mind, and metabolism needed a break from strict dieting.

It's a nice change to focus on fitness activities that aren't based solely on how I look and explore what my body can actually DO!

My goals this year are to improve my CrossFit skills, do some more obstacle races, and maybe even try Strongman or powerlifting... we'll see!

I'm joining PlantBuilt again in Texas 2017 for the Naturally Fit Games, but haven't decided yet if I will compete in Figure or maybe CrossFit or Strongman... I'll have to see what I've improved the most closer to the date.

When and why did you become vegan?

It was around 2010, not long after I started my journey into health and fitness.

I had been a vegetarian for a decade before that, but never really knew that much about the animal agriculture industry. I simply loved animals and didn't want to eat them. I assumed, like most people, that animals were all treated really well and if they didn't die they didn't suffer at all.

When social media (like Facebook) really started to take off, so did animal rights groups and activists - it improved their ability to spread a message very effectively to a bigger audience, at least from my perspective, as this is how I first discovered the truth about the horrible things that happen in farming.

At first, it was the Bobby Cow campaign run by Animals Australia and Animal Liberation Victoria that made me aware of the harsh realities of the dairy industry. It made me so much more aware of where my food came from.

After researching, I realised that it was literally impossible to get eggs that did not cause unnecessary suffering, as even free-range farms source their hens from hatcheries that cull male chicks en-mass.

My perspective towards animals also changed - as animal activist James Aspey says: "Animals are not property, objects, slaves or machines".

Every living creature deserves the right to live a life free of suffering and slavery.

What's you favorite vegan dishes?

Simone Collins doing dumbbell rows

I'm really not much of a foodie to be honest! I'm not a great cook and most of what I make is very basic (but healthy!)

I love Asian food, especially Japanese Nori rolls, and I have a huge sweet tooth so I'm a fan of fruit... and vegan chocolate. ;)

What, if anything, surprised you about being vegan?

How easy it is to build strength and muscle!

When I first went vegan, I hadn't been training very long, I thought it would be a lot harder for me to achieve my goals without meat. But so far I have made amazing progress that I am really proud of!

I have always been a natural athlete as well, so I honestly don't think eating animal protein would have given me any better results. If anything I am also healthier for avoiding animal based products, I stay lean easily and always have plenty of energy.

What would you tell someone considering becoming a vegan athlete?

Don't doubt yourself! Trust that a vegan lifestyle WILL work. Despite what many people think, being vegan is NOT going to disadvantage you in your sport and if anything, it will help you improve!

There are tons of successful vegan athletes, and no reason you can't become one as well :)

Simon Collins on stage

Over to you

Would you like to appear here on Athlegan.com and tell us your story? I'd love to hear it!

Send me an email ([email protected]) and let's chat.