Interview with Veg Cycling Superstar Cat Johnson

Cyclo-cross star Cat Johnson talks with VN about staying healthy in her fast-track life.

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OrganicAthlete, an organization set up in 2003 to “create a better world through sport,” brings together professional athletes to promote the health and environmental benefits of a vegan diet. Among its activists is Cat Johnson, a cyclo-crosser who is wheeling her way up the biking ranks. Johnson originally joined the vegan world for animal-rights reasons. ”I just didn’t want to cause any unjust suffering,” she says. After she became vegan, Johnson started marathon running and then short-track bicycling. This segued to cyclo-cross, a hybrid of cycling and running.

Now one of the fastest, literally, up-and-coming stars of cyclo-cross, the only suffering she inflicts is on herself during her challenging workouts. Constantly growing stronger and faster, Johnson took some time off the bike to catch up with VegNews and share how she fuels her powerhouse self.

Sport: Cyclo-cross
Diet: Vegan since 1998
Recent record: I won my first Omnium [a track cycling race in which cyclists compete in five different disciplines] in the spring. It was the first one I had ever done! Then we had a Women’s Series, which I also won. We started racing in Colorado Springs about a month ago, at the 7-11 Olympic Training Center Velodrome. It has been awesome! I am doing a solid job in those races, but they are at a high level with a lot of very experienced track racers, so they are tougher and it’s a steep learning curve, for sure! I went from being a Cat 5 on the Track to being a Cat 2 (Cat 1 being the level just below Pro. I’m not quite there, yet!) in just 6 months from when I started learning to ride at the Velodrome in January. I definitely think my vegan diet is keeping me strong, feeling good, and recovering between races very well. It keeps me really lean, and I need to be as lean as possible to race at high speeds.
Staple meal: A good sandwich with avocado and a smoothie.
Weekly workouts: Some people think I am a little over-extended this summer. I race on the road often on Saturday and Sunday, race my mountain bike on Wednesday in the hardest Women’s category, and then race track all night on Thursdays with the hard-core track girls. But I am having the time of my life, and feeling great! I definitely am attributing this to my vegan diet and my conscious choices to get in a lot of calories, and stay healthy by also getting things like omega-3s in flaxseed oil, omega-6s in pistachios, and omega-9s in avocados. My smoothies now typically consist of fruit, soy ice cream, flaxseed oil, Vega, and Hemp Protein Powder from Living Harvest.
Favorite supplement: Brendan Brazier’s Vega Complete Whole Food Health Optimizer because it has a lot of great nutrients in it that I know make me stronger and faster! Hemp powder has all the complete proteins I could ever want and need, so that is a change in my diet that I think has been really positive and has made me a better, and quickly improving athlete.
What’s next: Masters Track Nationals and Time Trials