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Catherine Johnson - Cycling

Cat Johnson CyclocrossHometown: Washington, DC
Current Residence: Boulder, CO
Sport(s): Cyclocross
Pro/Elite since: Elite Cross racer since 2004

Date of Birth: 2/20/1977
Website: cat-johnson.blogspot.com
Favorite fruit: Mango
Favorite veggie: Green Beans
Hobbies/Other sports: Digital Photographic Art, Mtn Biking, Road Racing

1. When and why did you choose to stop eating animal products?

After experimenting with being a Vegan off and on for a while, I finally cut dairy out of my diet for good in January of 1998, when I moved to Boulder to go to school at CU in Environmental Studies. I had been a vegetarian for a couple of years. I became a vegan for a number of reasons. I did not want to cause suffering to animals. I knew that animals often lived under horrible conditions on factory farms, and that they do not have voices to scream and yell to their abusers, leaving them totally without the power to save themselves. I understood that by merely making the choice to not eat meat and dairy, I could contribute to helping animals suffer less. I knew that rainforest land was used by large corporations for animals to graze, and did not want to contribute to environmental degradation. I also found I felt healthier, more energetic, and alive when I didn’t eat meat or dairy products.

2. What has been your experience as a vegan athlete? Have you noticed any performance or health benefits or problems?

The first problem I faced when I became a Vegan, was that I quickly lost a lot of weight. I wasn't getting enough protein, fat, or B12 in my diet. Once I solved that problem, I found myself more energetic than ever. I really started pumping tons of extra protein and fat into my diet in January of 2006, when I picked up my racing and training to include more USGP cross races. I wanted to take my biking to a higher level. Now, I get 1g of protein per lb of body weight per day. I get this from rice protein, which I add to my smoothie every day. I eat an avocado almost every day, as well. I feel really strong, energetic, alive and motivated. I know that having a lot of protein in my diet is extremely important for muscle building, maintaining, and recovery. I get plenty of fat in my diet by eating avocados, so that I have something to burn off. I really put in hard workouts on my bikes and on the trails, so I am really nutrient conscious. I take a B complex vitamin, and a Vegan multi vitamin every day.

3. Have teammates and other athletes been supportive or critical?

My teammates have been really positive. I think they figure it is not for them, but since it works for me, it's great! Once I had a teammate that suggested I add soy ice cream to my smoothies to drown out the taste of protein powder. This was excellent advice, as rice protein powder has a revolting aftertaste. A few people have pressed me to change my diet, sighting that this person or that person started eating meat and improved there racing performance, drastically. I haven't listened. I think that people who say such things are just insecure and uninformed. Really, I think, it is the combination of a healthy lifestyle, training, and racing that will improve a person's performance above all. Being aware of the suffering of factory farm animals, environmental issues, and ones health is a smart way to live. I think this consciousness is important in racing. Having a clear conscious, and a positive mindset, helps you find power, strength. and peace within yourself.

4. A brief history of your athletic career.

1999-2000 Ran a few Marathons
2000 – In July I began to work Full-time as a Denver Bike Messenger
2001 – Full time Denver Bike Messenger in the fall, in February I moved to DC and worked as a DC Bike Messenger until August. I raced cyclocross for NCVC in DC in the fall
2002 – Road Raced for NCVC in DC in the spring, and in the summer in Boulder, CO, I raced cyclocross for the Pro Peloton in Boulder, CO in the fall
2003 - 2005 – Raced road and cyclocross for the Pro Peloton
2006 – Raced road, mountain, and cyclocross for the Pro Peloton

5. Most memorable results or achievements.

24th USGP Rad Cup in Lakewood, WA 2006
21st USGP Boulder Cup 2006
8th Capital Cross Classic 2006
6th Boulder Short Track Series 2006
1st Boulder Cycloross Series in 2005

6. Why did you join OA's PRO-Activist team?

I think that being a bike-racing vegan allows you to be healthy, compassionate to animals and the environment, while being tough, aggressive, and competitive on your bike. I think it is important to make a positive difference, fight for social justice, and choose to let your choices speak for not only yourself, but for those whose voices we can not hear. Staying true to my beliefs, and myself by racing and being a vegan, I have improved immensely as a cyclist. I hope that others will find the courage, willpower and determination to make a conscious decision for themselves and the world around them by choosing to be vegan as well.