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Tonya Kay - Dancing

Tonya KayCurrent Residence: gypsy

Sport: pro dance

Pro/Elite since: age 15

Favorite fruit: fuerte avocado

Favorite veggie: purple kale

Hobbies/Other sports: fire spinning, flag dancing, road tripping, hiking, writing, sculpting, Chaos Magick and dreams

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

I grew up in a small farming community in south-central Michigan. My loving grandparents owned 130 acres and a slaughterhouse and I remember clearly the moment my 8 year-old brain comprehended what was going on between the holding pens and the freezers. Vegetarianism became my default lifestyle immediately in 1984, as a way to rid the guilty-conscious-sick feeling from my dinner table. I continued to develop as any fatally artistic, morbidly romantic, people-loving introvert might---discovering gardening, lucid dreaming and a career in the performing arts. I dove into veganism in much the same unconscious way. This time as a test of late teen will power and desire for experimentation (experience being the only valid way I have found to gain wisdom). I am now 27 years old and am finally learning that my own health is as fundamental to the planet as other species. After 20 years of being vegetarian and 10 years vegan, I thought I thought I was healthy. Until I went raw. That was 2 years ago and the difference is profound!

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

First and foremost I notice a feeling of personal integrity. The raw food lifestyle is truly an expression of mySelf and my body is a mirror for that. We are what we eat, as they say, and I'd rather be a sexy young coconut than empty puffy pasta - even if it is whole wheat! As an athlete I notice that my body responds almost immediately to the requests I make of it. Recovery time, strength building, cardio capacity and flexibility are no longer mysteries, but givens. Coordination too, a delight for this dancer, has skyrocketed now that I eat raw. As a human in general, my complexion, which was once a source of turmoil, is now absolutely radiant, menstruation as a method of detox has ceased (this is common for raw women, who still ovulate and conceive as 'normal' or better in my opinion) and most importantly, the raw vegan lifestyle has made it possible for me to live a happily unmedicated Bipolar life!

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

My passionate relationship with life has been met with overwhelming support from others!

4. A brief history of your athletic career.

Tap dancing since 4 years old, I took to the community theatre stage when I was 6. Growing up I continued to train (celebrate) as a dancer an average of 15 hours/wk and at 14 I began teaching dance to other students. When I was 15 I landed my first role in professional theatre and had no idea what to do with all the money, so I bought myself a CD player and 5 CD's (oh, young pleasures!). Three rest is history - dancing in NYC companies, Chicago musical theatre and national tours, I honestly can say I am living my dream and appreciating every second of it.

5. Most memorable results or achievements.

destroying broom sticks and trash cans in the name of rhythm as a principal performer in STOMP for 2 years
learning to fly as an aerial stuntwoman in the Off-Broadway production, De La Guarda
rapping and dancing hip-hop behind the gambler himself on Kenny Rogers' Christmas Tour
playing to a stadium of 12,000 screaming Irish children on the Rugrats international tour
flag dancing in the white sands of the notorious Fire Island as a member of NYC's Axis Danz Company (and what we did in the limo on the drive there - certainly a memorable professional achievement)

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

Wild, free, artistic people take care of their bodies and the environment. In fact, being conscious and caring is the new definition of cool, so c'mon people, let's start the next popular fad! Let's see icons eating avocados, role models shopping resale and parents making exercise a joyous priority. I am an OrganicAthlete PROactivist because I want young people to know what cool really is. I want athletes to know that the raw vegan lifestyle is not a 'possible' diet for training, but the optimal diet for training. And I want all humans to know that discovery of the Self is the path that leads us here. Ask yourself who you really are and if you are being that person right now. Losing weight, loving yourself, feeling young and saving the earth are all beneficial side effects of self-intimacy. Find out who you are and express that perfection!