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vegan is life

How I became a raw vegan

How I became a raw vegan


Almost two years ago, I decided to become a vegetarian (lacto-ovo to be exact.) This decision was a long time coming for me… I had wanted to officially call myself a vegetarian for many years preceeding this diet change in the beginning of 2013. Since I was still growing and my parents did not know much about the vegetarian lifestyle, they thought it was best for me to wait until I was truly “done” growing so I could have what they considered to be “proper nutrition” (consisting of various animal products such as chicken breast, fish, seafood, and rarely red meat.)

After lots of research and watching various documentaries, I was done growing and ready to become a vegetarian—for health, ethical, and personal reasons. If you want to change anything in your life, you need to have support along the way. Once I decided to make this lifestyle change, my family and friends were extremely encouraging and that made the transition even more exciting for me. I was looking forward to beginning a new journey of achieving my optimum health and becoming my best ‘self.’


Now fast forward to about 6 months ago when I came upon the raw foods lifestyle.  I have always been extremely interested in nutrition, so I would naturally research the newest “fad diets” and I always wanted to be up to date with the health and wellness world. Given the endless resources on the internet, there is almost too much information for an individual to process if they are looking for a easy solution to get healthy. I do not believe in restriction, counting calories, or living to eat…

Food should be a source of nutrition, happiness, and it should create a healthy relationship within yourself and the people around you.

So there I was, searching the internet, when I found FullyRaw Kristina—an incredibly inspiring young woman who adopted the raw foods lifestyle 8 years ago. I have never felt more connected to my body and what I put in it than I do now…This raw vegan lifestyle has affected me in all aspects of my life. Not only has my perspective changed on how to nourish myself, but it has influenced the people around me and the relationships I share with them in ways I could have never imagined. That's how I became a raw vegan.

The power of food and the power of raw veganism is truly incredible.


Why am I here?…Well, I am here because I cannot keep this lifestyle to myself. It has affected me so positively that it would be a crime not to put it out there and continue to share it with the world. I know that I am not going to convert everyone into a raw vegan, but I want to share my experiences and my lifestyle with you—even if it means you just have one extra banana every day—it makes a difference.

Ashley Hampton (PumpUp: @rawincollege) is a college student looking to spread the power of the raw vegan lifestyle through her positive posts and vibrant photos. Check out her blog

This post was updated on July 10, 2015. 

Jennifer Z is a vegan, rock-climbing rockstar - PumpUp Spotlight

There’s a saying that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it. PumpUp member Jennifer Z is a rock-climbing rockstar who radiates inspiration. She’s also a model, a swim coach and is training for American Ninja warrior! Read about her creative ways to stay active, her smoothie secrets, her battle with an endocrine disorder called PCOS, and her vegan lifestyle down below!


Jennifer is a long-time and immensely loved PumpUp member. She’s been part of the community for almost a year, and joined the app to supplement her climbing and training regime. “I absolutely loved [PumpUp] and started using the app almost every day. I have been using it daily for the whole time that I’ve had it,” she insists. “I always tell people that it’s like the fitness version of Instagram, except that no one is a jerk,” she laughs. “I am really astounded by all of the support that everyone gives to each and every member. That’s what keeps me psyched on using it.”

Prior to PumpUp, Jennifer reveals that she lost a bit of enthusiasm for her climbing training and was dismayed that she wasn’t making any progress. “I couldn’t see my abs anymore because I had stopped running and weight training. I was still climbing and doing climbing-specific training, but I was neglecting parts of my body,” she laments. “I knew that my abs were still there, and wanted to be able to see them again!”  She was climbing an average of 4 days a week, 2-3 hours per session, but was not supplementing that training with any other kinds of exercise besides finger-strength training.


The PumpUp community absolutely admires the strength, tenacity, and dedication that Jennifer puts into her training.  “I had never done a single squat until PumpUp came into my life. I thank this app for the awesome bum motivation. I love feeling strength in my body from head to toe,” she shares. Due to her busy school schedule, Jennifer currently climbs 2 days per week for 2-3 hours at a time and recently built a climbing wall in her house so that she can focus on training at home as well. “I also use a grip trainer in my car every day when I drive to and from school. I am shocked at how quickly my climbing has progressed since I started my new routine,” she explains. This is for good reason, of course. Last month, Jennifer was placed into the highest competing category of climbers!  

Jennifer finds creative ways to stay active outside of her climbing routine. Being a former sailboat racer, Jennifer enthusiastically took up windsurfing in stride. “I go to the Berkley Marina to windsurf with my best friend. Windsurfing is a killer full-body workout and is really good for grip strength. Windsurfing captured my heart.” She’s also started to practice parkour and calisthenics. “I am an absolute beginner at parkour and am mostly terrified, but I have found that adding tricks here and there make running MUCH more interesting,” she advises. One of her goals is to compete in a show called American Ninja Warrior next year. It makes good sense: rock climbers and traceurs often do best!


Another fun fact? Her boyfriend James has been on American Ninja Warrior for 5 seasons, known colloquially as the Wild Man Ninja. They both stay active together when she visits him in Santa Cruz. “He lives one block from the beach, so we start our mornings with a sunrise stroll by the water while we sip on tea and watch the wildlife.  We go on runs to the lighthouse, climb on anything we can find, and practice acroyoga with each other during the day,” she says. He’s also helping her perfect her handstand too, and she hopes he’ll be able to mentor her in other sports as well. “I’m really hoping that one day he will teach me how to surf! I am so lucky to love someone who is as excited about living and playing as I am.”

Seven years ago, Jennifer experimented with veganism because she heard that it helped boost energy levels and she wanted to try it. To this day, she’s still a vegan! It has done wonders for her training performance and it melds very well with her lifestyle. “I never went back and don’t think I ever would.  It’s amazing to be able to eat so much food, yet have a ton of energy all the time.  I also am an animal lover and don’t want to support that industry,” she affirms.  Jennifer prefers to remain active, rather than regulating the amount of food that she eats. “I’ve dabbled in the 80/10/10 and Raw Till 4 diet, which are raw or mostly raw vegan diets that are 80% carbs, 10% protein, and 10% fat.  I think those diets are great, but they can be really difficult to maintain,” she elaborates.


Her mornings start smoothly in every sense of the word. “I drink a smoothie every morning and have been known to post pictures on PumpUp of my smoothies in cat-themed glasses, sometimes with a kitten in the picture!” she shares excitedly. Besides having at least one 28-64 oz smoothie everyday, Jennifer also makes sure to eat a ton of vegetables with every meal. “It doesn’t feel like a real meal unless there are vegetables!,” she interjected. The rest of her diet is comprised of plenty rice, beans, gluten-free pasta and gluten-free sandwiches. Jennifer quickly shared this one adorable quirk of hers. “I also bake a lot of potatoes and yams and can eat 5-8 of them in one sitting, with no added ingredients or condiments,” she said.  “Something about eating one kind of food for an entire meal is strangely satisfying.  It really allows me to enjoy the full palate of flavors, and I usually feel super energized afterwards.  It is also really good for digestion!”


Jennifer’s recipe-making is just like her personality: fun and free-spirited. “My recipes are always created on the fly.  Mostly, I fill my blender halfway with kale and spinach, then I put either water or juice and fruit, and top it off with chia seeds,” she detailed when talking about her smoothies.  She firmly discourages starvation, as it promotes otherwise unhealthy habits. “My main rule is that, as long as I’m eating healthy, I let myself eat as much as I want and never starve.  Starvation can only be kept up for so long… a binge always results!  I would rather eat in abundance.  I attribute my ability to eat as much as I want to my healthy, vegan diet,” she tells us.

Exercise and healthy eating vastly helps with Jennifer’s endocrine disorder called PCOS. The disorder interferes with her hormones and insulin levels. “I am pre-diabetic and sometimes have very low energy and am moody.  By exercising regularly and getting my nutrition game on point, I have been able to manage many of my symptoms,” she says with confidence. “80% of women with PCOS are obese, so I am very proud of keeping the weight off.  I attribute it to keeping active, sleeping well, staying happy by caring for my needs, eating a healthy vegan diet, and drinking tons of water.  Whenever I stop doing any one of those things, I can see and feel my health decline rapidly.”


Her best advice for fellow PumpUp members looking to lead a more active life is to find a sport or activity to fall in love with, then find friends within that community. “They don’t have to be the coolest or the most popular.  Just make sure that whoever they are, they make you want to hang around them.  If they don’t make you want to try hard, it’s time to find new friends,” she counsels.

Biggest motivation

Freelee the Banana Girl has had a huge impact on how I eat.  She is a big high-carb vegan YouTuber.  I have been watching her videos for years, and her tips have really helped me maintain my weight as I get older.   I also am motivated by my mom.  She is 5’7 but her biceps look bigger and better than mine!  She does 500+ crunches every morning before she walks to work as well as some weight training and cycling.  I am also super motivated by all of my American Ninja Warrior friends!  They are so friendly and helpful.  There’s no pretense in that community, and they always push me harder with a smile.  I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many awesome individuals.”

Motivational Mantra
"It doesn’t matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch."

Favourite workout exercise/routine on PumpUp

"I could not pick a favorite!  I love the abs section and the lower body workouts, but I seriously love almost all of the workouts that PumpUp has come up with for me.  That being said, I hate burpees and will avoid them like the plague!"


More about Jennifer

"My daily routine is quite the grind.  I go to school 45 minutes away from home 4 days per week, and I work 3 different jobs 5 days per week!  I am currently studying Psychology and Social Action, which I absolutely love! There is so much homework, though, because I’m going full-time, and I often go to bed waaay later than I should.  For my first job, I am employed at an actuarial office and do lots of boring math. My second job is more fun, as I teach swimming to kids aged 2-months (water babies!!) all the way up to a pre-competitive  class of 8-10 years olds.  Lastly, I do lots of modeling and just recently did my first band merchandise photoshoot.  My modeling work has been featured in 2 books and 4 galleries in San Francisco."

Fun Fact

"I have never had a glass of milk and I have never had a cup of coffee!  I plan to keep it that way."

Follow Jennifer on PumpUp @pawsha and on Instagram and on YouTube @jaz.143 to cheer her along her journey!