Shea West, vegan BMX rider
BMX with a break
Shea West is a BMX rider from Kansas USA. He started riding competitively in childhood and won several state championship titles and was placed fourth in the 1994 World championships. He was also part of the team which won a national team title in 1993.
In 1996 Shea took a break from competing, which became longer than expected – 17 years in total.
Since coming back into competition he has won the Kansas title for experts in the 28-35 category and was placed second in the Central US States Gold Cup for the same age category. In 2016 he was added to the Kansas BMX Hall of Fame.
Vegan in a meat-farming state
Returning to competition after a long break was partly to promote veganism.
“I wanted to get back into it to promote a healthy sustainable vegan lifestyle in extreme sports so at the beginning of 2014 I started back up but didn't get to push to hard because my main focus has been on launching Kind Kravings our food truck this past year.”
Shea started turning vegan in 2008, primarily for his health. To start with he did eat eggs and fish on occasions, but since 2010 he has been entirely vegan.
“My journey began with the documentary called The Beautiful Truth Simple Cure for Cancer. At the time my girlfriends mother was dying of cancer so we started to look into alternative cancer treatments and came across that documentary. From there one thing lead to another and we were awakened to the truth about the negative impact our food supply is having on our health, environment, and the animals, as well as what roles the government and corporations play in it all. All the information was so overwhelmingly powerful that it became an immediate call to action for me to change my lifestyle not only for my health but because I believe it is my human duty to protect this planet and all things living on it to the best of my ability.”
"For me that meant a chemical free non-toxic compassionate lifestyle where my choices do no harm and so I began the process of slowly removing the things that did align with that. Once I went through complete detox I felt better than I did in my youth!”
Now enthusiastically exploring veganism, Shea deals with travelling by bringing his own food and looking up vegan restaurants.
What does he eat?
When at home his diet is very varied.
“When I get the ‘what do you eat’ question it almost seems easier to list what I do not eat. I eat every fruit, nut, seed, legume, vegetable, and grain you can think of.”
“For breakfast I usually have either oatmeal or quinoa with sautéed veggies on top and a fresh smoothie or juice. Once in awhile I will do some whole grain bread. I don't really eat a lunch but I will eat a snack that may be hummus with veggies or pita, avocado with spinach tofu ricotta, or apples & celery w/ peanut butter.
“Dinners are a very wide variety but we try to do at least a 50/50 diet of raw to cooked food so we always have a huge salad and a side of something cooked. My girlfriend and I are opening a vegan food truck in Wichita so we try many different recipes out to try and build our menu. Some of our favorites are an asian lettuce wrap, Mexican lettuce wrap, grilled mushroom sandwich, manicotti, sweet and sour bbq meatlessballs, lentil loaf, chipotle black bean wraps, tacos, soups, chili, coconut kale,and gyro's. Spinach, kale, red leaf lettuce, arugala, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, cabbage, potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes, oranges, apples, bananas, pears, grapes, pineapple, cucumbers, green beans, lentils, black beans, pinto beans, red beans, navy beans, garbanzo beans, quinoa, barley, cous-cous, rice, corn, peas, cantaloupe, etc. are the basic foods I eat daily either fresh or prepared in a recipe.
“Other extremely important aspects in my diet is avoiding canned dead food, g.m.o's, chemicals, and preservatives.”
A rare vegan
Shea lives in the heart of the cattle ranching part of America, and finds that a lot of people don’t understand what veganism is. He has encountered hostility.
“I think you have to be passionate or crazy to put yourself out there in this way where I am from but that just means this part of the country needs more people like me to step up in order to effect change so that is exactly what I intend to do. Raise awareness from any platform I can find. At this rate I am probably the only BMX racer I know of in the USA that is vegan but I would like to meet others for sure or perhaps even inspire others to make the change!”
While Shea is focussing on improving his ranking in his sport, he also wants to achieve more.
“I would love to end 2015 being top 20 if not better in the nation in my age group and hit up more nationals when money is available to do so. I would also love to collaborate with some vegan product sponsors. Currently in extreme sports the typical sponsors are red bull, monster, power bars, rockstar energy drinks etc. which in my opinion have no place in health and athletisism. I would like to see a shift in the sports industry in that regard. Athletes need products that actually give the body what it needs for such strenuous activity. “
“My plans are simple... to become the change I want to see in this world! I want a world where all beings are free from harm and suffering. A world where all beings have happiness and abundance. To ensure this I will make every possible effort on my behalf to be certain my choices are a reflection of the world I envision. In order to do so I will continue to educate myself and raise awareness on the issues I see facing our planet be it through sports, food truck, social media, hosting documentary nights, and the most powerful of methods simply living my truth and being an example!”