Name: Ashlee Harrison
Division you will compete in: Figure
Weight/Competition Weight: 117, competition goal weight 108
City: Seattle, WA
Years as vegan: Since 06/21/2013
Why you became vegan: I first became vegetarian about 7 years ago after doing some research into dog food, of all things. I learned about the horrific animal testing on beagles being conducted by the Iams brand (I have a beagle) and one uncover video lead to another and I became vegetarian. This lasted about three years, but we lived in a small town and didn’t have a lot of support, so unfortunately it didn’t last. In June 2013 I knew a change needed to be made. I have a family history of renal disease, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. I became interested in competing, but knew with my own lab results showing compromised renal function that I couldn’t eat the traditional body builder diet. That coupled with knowledge that I already knew about factory farming I made the decision to change my lifestyle and Go Vegan!
History Competing: None
What drives you to compete: When I first moved to Washington from Southern Oregon I had decided I wanted to attempt to play roller derby. Unfortunately, I had a terrible experience spending a year and half trying to prove myself to a group of women that never found value in me as an athlete. This was a first for me! I grew up being ultra completive playing sports and usually succeeding at anything I put my mind to. Fortunately for me the town I was from was the same town as Mindy Collette, and we were friends. I had decided that lifting would take my mind off roller derby and keep me in shape, so I reached out to Mindy for advice. I had been following Mindy’s bodybuilding career for some time and always admired and respected her. I made up my mind to compete because I knew that this would be something only I could make happen. Rather than relying on others to “pick” me, I would be the only one responsible for my direct success. However, I knew I couldn’t get to my desired physique without the help, coaching, and support of experienced physique competitors. Mindy put me in touch with Sara Russert, who then told me about Dani Taylor, my coach, and I jumped head first into wanting to compete as a vegan athlete.
What do you see as the biggest advantages of being a vegan athlete: People often say to “eat clean, train dirty”. I feel the only true clean eating is accomplished with a vegan diet. I actually feel clean after eating. I have more energy, stamina, and can recover faster. I also feel more focused as a vegan athlete because this isn’t just about me, it’s my way of trying to save the world!
How would you describe your diet while preparing for competition: I follow a meal plan custom tailored for me by my coach Dani Taylor of veganproteins.com. Every eight weeks or so we reevaluate my progress and she adjusts my plan based on my gains or lack thereof. I eat six meals per day every two-three hours. I eat a lot of whole foods and veggies, nut butters, and tofu. I only have one protein shake per day at this point.
Favorite food in your prep diet: I get one banana and one tablespoon of peanut butter prior to my workout at 4:30 am. It’s my absolute favorite and helps me look forward to waking up because it’s so darn good!
How would you describe your training for a competition: Intense! Dani designs all my workouts, which again has been evaluated about every eight weeks and adjusted for areas of growth. Right now I am hammering hard my glutes and shoulders, so I am doing two heavy leg days and two heavy shoulder days. I started out doing a fair amount of cardio (running 5K 4-5 times per week), however recently we have completely cut out cardio from my training in hopes of really adding on the muscle mass!
Favorite exercises: Reserve hack squat, one arm dumbbell row, sumo squats, and rear delt face pulls.
How many hours a week do you spend training?: 12-15 hours per week, strictly weightlifting.
Today I am most proud of: Personally I am proud of how my lifestyle change has influenced my family and friends to be more active and/or veg-curious. I know several people who have adopted meat-less meals, and my best friend has even become vegan! Physically I am most proud of how much stronger I have become! I keep track of weights in a journal and each week I progress in nearly every exercise. I am also super excited that I have recently been able to do two sets of 15 unassisted tricep dips, as well as a pyramid set (12/10/8/6/4) of unassisted pull ups!
Personal website or blog: