Katie Coryell - Surfing
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
Current Residence: Nags Head, North Carolina
Pro/Elite since: 2004
Date of Birth: June 22, 1976
Favorite fruit: WATERMELON, Avocados
Favorite veggie: peppers, spinach
Hobbies/Other sports: running, yoga, swimming, cooking (vegan of course!!), travel, reading, spending time with my dogs!!
1. When and why did you choose to stop eating animal products?
Unlike most people I know I did not grow up drinking milk or consuming other dairy products (including eggs) because my older brother had severe food allergies. He eventually grew out of his restricted diet, and I became a cheese and ice cream junky!!! I began eliminating animal products from my diet in 1990, the year I was required to read Upton Sinclaire's The Jungle for my freshman history class. At first I cut out red meat and poultry but continued to eat seafood until I started college. As a biology major I was very interested in the environment and gradually learned how a plant based diet is more sustainable for the planet. Cheese and ice cream were the last animal products to be cut from my diet in 2001. Over the years I have been adapting my diet I have been accumulating more and more reasons why I choose to be Vegan. I do not believe that eating dead things or milk products is a positive source of energy or a good way to fuel your body for optimum performance. I am happier knowing that I am not contributing to the painful and disgusting industry that exploits animals as a food source. By eating lower on the food chain I am helping contribute to environmental sustainability while eliminating many harmful chemicals from my diet.
2. What has been your experience as a vegan athlete? Have you noticed any performance or health benefits or problems?
Since adapting a vegan diet I have noticed several positive changes in my surfing. I am leaner than I was before and being lighter without sacrificing strength or muscle mass allows me to surf faster. Speed is what allows you to make solid maneuvers at critical parts of the wave, and I feel that my overall performance has dramatically improved since adopting a vegan diet. I have experienced a few injuries (a torn MCL in 2003 and a stress fracture about a month ago) and have to say that my recovery time was dramatically shorter than it was for injuries before I became vegan. Last but not least, the mental discipline it takes to follow a vegan diet has taught me to be more focused, especially in competition.
3. Have teammates and other athletes been supportive or critical?
There are actually many surfers I know who are vegetarians of some variety or another but there are very few vegans. No one has ever really given me a hard time about my dietary choices, most often they are curious and ask questions. Friends I travel with take the time to look at menus to see if there are options for me which I think is pretty cool. It is not always easy to travel and follow a vegan diet, so I think more than anything they admire my restraint when we go places with little or no animal free food choices.
4. A brief history of your athletic career.
I have been a competitive athlete most of my life but did not begin surfing until 1996 when I transferred to the College if Charleston in South Carolina. I was fortunate to make friends with a local woman who had been surfing for over 20 years. She encouraged me to enter a local amateur contest shortly after I learned to surf, and I won!!! From that point on I was very involved in the local surf community, competed in the local district of the Eastern Surfing Association, and began to travel for competitions when I qualified for regional and national amateur competitions. After graduating college in 2001, I tried out for the US Surf Team and earned one of the 4 slots available for women on the team. In 2002 I relocated to California in hopes of competing in some professional events but realized after about 7 months that it would be easier (financially) for me to travel for contests if I based myself back on the east coast. I finally began competing in pro events this past April and am happy working the summer months at my surf school, Carolina Surf Adventures, and using the winter months for training and travel. In 2004 I competed in only the events held by the Association of Surfing Professionals in North America and am looking forward to surfing in international events for the 2005 season.
5. Most memorable results or achievements (top 5).
1. 3rd place in shortboard at the 2001 USSF National Amateur Championships
2. 4th place in Longboard at the 2001 USSF National Amateur Championships
3. 11th place at the 2002 Pan American Surfing Championships in Venezuela
4. 1st place O'Neill Braggers Cup May 2004 (first money prize earned)
5. Equal 7th place at the 2004 Outer Banks Pro (first ASP prize money, best result from 2004 tour)
6. Why did you join OA's PRO-Activist team?
I think it is very important to make people aware that you can be active, healthy, and fit without animal products in your diet. I think most people are too detached from their food sources, meaning that they settle for convenience and never bother to concern themselves with where their food is coming from or what they are really eating. By joining OA's Pro-Activist team I hope to increase awareness, inspire others, and dispel many of the myths surrounding the average American diet.