Vegan Athletes: Q&A with husband and wife of vegan bodybuilders -

Vegan Athletes: Q&A with husband and wife of vegan bodybuilders

While browsing YouTube for dinner ideas, you may have come across an easy lentil recipe from a vegan bodybuilder. Or just peek at an article about Venus Williams and famous vegan athletes. While attending a Veg Fest event, you may have been drawn to a toned and chiseled speaker who just so happens to be a plant-eating bodybuilder.

Many professional athletes, bodybuilders, and other fitness enthusiasts happily advocate their preferences for foods that are devoid of animal products. For insight into the trend, husband and wife fitness professionals Danny Taylor and Giacomo Marchese offer their perspective—and some delicious favorite recipes.

Dani and Giacomo enjoy their roles as vegan ambassadors. They offer vegan fitness through their business, plant-based proteins, and found PlantBuilt, a roving team of vegan athletes.

Earth911: Why are you a vegetarian?

Danny Taylor: I became a vegetarian at the age of eight but continued to eat a lot of dairy and eggs for a long time. I was writing a paper on vegetarianism for my high school English class, and I stumbled across a website that explains the relationship between the dairy/egg industries and the meat industry. I never knew how cruel they could be before. I went vegan overnight. Best decision of my life.

Giacomo Marchese: I am vegan for animals, for the environment, and for my own body. In no particular order. This is the way of life for me. About 19 years ago, I decided to go all-vegan. As a role model, it was my desire to show others the power of a plant-fed body. After (becoming) a stronger athlete and seeing my health indicators improve almost overnight, I decided to stick with it. Learning that an animal must suffer for the food that was in my plate gave me more conviction that this was the right way to live. Going vegan is also the most environmentally responsible choice you can make on your own. Animal farming is the main cause of climate change. By not contributing to the problem by eating animals or animal byproducts, you are part of the solution.

Earth911: What is your philosophy about being a vegan athlete?

Danny: I think the myth that protein only comes from animal products is still alive and well. We now know scientifically that this isn’t true – but that information is still slowly trickling in… By competing as a vegan athlete, I have the opportunity to lead by example and hope to show people that it can be done and inspire others to try the same.

Giacomo: Athletes often have strong reasons to be the best they can be. For some, this is their credo. Others are personally affected by a family member, a loved one, etc. For me, it shows the world what’s possible when you embrace a cruelty-free lifestyle. Plants are where you get your food. Recovery time improves when eating a vegan diet. Which means your ability to function improves, too, because you’re able to get to your next workout faster — and stronger.

Earth911: What are your sources of protein?

Danny: I like a lot of plant-based protein sources. But my favorite is seitan, which is sometimes called wheat meat. I also eat a lot of tofu, tempeh, and PlantFusion protein powder if I’m making a smoothie.

Giacomo: I like to make my own vegan meat. Everything from ribs to chicken, burgers and cold cuts. The recipes we work with usually call for soy, wheat and pea proteins. As the saying goes, “Anything you can make, I can make vegan.” It is not difficult. You can find plenty of high protein vegan recipes on our YouTube channel.

Husband and wife of vegan bodybuilders, Giacomo Marchese and Danny Taylor
Giacomo Marchese and Danny Taylor

Vegetarian recipes

Enjoy these two vegan recipes from Dani and Giacomo.

From Danny: Chocolate Chia Pudding

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  • 1 cup soy milk
  1. Mix cocoa powder and brown sugar together in a bowl. stir well.
  2. Fold the chia seeds into the mixture.
  3. Pour the soy milk into the bowl and stir.
  4. Leave the mixture for a few minutes before stirring again. Repeat, stirring several times over the course of 20 minutes.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for two hours to overnight.

From Giacomo: BBQ Seitan Ribs

Seitan ribs, vegetable roast
Giacomo’s Seitan Barbecue Ribs. image source

You can also watch Giacomo’s YouTube video on making this recipe.

  • 1 cup of vital wheat gluten
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce (vegan highlights!)

Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C and spray an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with cooking spray.

  1. Mix the gluten, paprika, nutritional yeast, onion powder, and garlic powder in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the water, nut butter, liquid smoke, and soy sauce.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir the mixture well in the bowl for a few minutes. It will be a very elastic mixture.
  4. Place the dough in the baking dish and flatten it so that it fills the pan evenly. Take a sharp knife and chop it finely into 8 slices; Then flip the pan over and cut those strips in half to form 16 pieces.
  5. Put it in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. While it’s cooking, prepare your grill pan or grill.
  6. Remove from the oven and carefully re-cut each slice, going over each piece to make sure the ribs will separate easily later.
  7. Brush the top with half of the BBQ sauce. Take it to the grill pan or grill and turn the baking dish over completely onto the pan so that the ribs are now grill-side down (or use a large spatula to lift the seitan out, and place it sauce-side down on the grill).
  8. Brush the top of the seitan with the other half of the sauce.
  9. Watch it closely to make sure it doesn’t burn (although some people like it a little black).
  10. When brown enough on one side, flip and cook the other side, adding more sauce if you like.

When finished, remove to a platter and cut or separate individual ribs for serving.

Looking for more vegan recipes? Be sure to check out Danny and Giacomo’s vegan protein recipes on their YouTube channel.

Feature image provided by Danny Taylor and Giacomo Marchese