Darlene's Vegan Health Story: Total Vegan Fitness Bad-Assery

I met Darlene, a 33-year-old nutrition and fitness coach and fitness competitor from Long Beach, California during my training to become a Vegan Lifestyle Coach & Educator at the Mainstreet Vegan Academy in New York City. The more I get to know about her life and her health philosophy, the more I realize she is a total vegan bad-ass in the best possible way: Mentally, physically and spiritually.

Darlene had digestive issues most of her life

Darlene never liked the usual kid meat foods such as hot dogs and pepperoni but as she grew up, forced herself to eat them anyway. During college, while constantly bingeing on cheese pizza, grilled cheese, Philly cheese steak and bacon she had chronic digestive issues and found out that she also had high cholesterol even though she was an athlete on the college track team.

Little by little as the years passed and her interest in fitness competing grew, she removed more and more of the foods that made her feel sick, starting with chicken and dairy.

"I started doing Bikini Competitions in 2012 and ate a lot eggs, fish and some turkey. At first I felt amazing once removed the dairy from my diet. Whenever I did try to have dairy I felt immediately sick and I realized I did not need dairy in my life," said Darlene. "Even still, doing shows back-to-back, my digestion was getting worse and I didn't know why."

The wedding that changed her life

In September 2013, Darlene went to an all vegan wedding and was amazed with the food.

"It really opened up my eyes to how amazing vegan food tasted," said Darlene. "But I was still skeptical because my perception of vegans were either they looked malnourished or they were obese. I thought there was no such thing as strong lean vegans."

More bad-ass strong, lean vegans

When Darlene met Torre Washington, the vegan bodybuilder, she knew it was possible to fulfill her fitness goals on a vegan diet.

Torre Washington